Being the biggest source of media consumption on the interwebs, YouTube has been designed to provide an intuitive video streaming experience to viewers of all ages on its platform. But over the weekend, few vloggers have come forth with the complaint that YouTube is censoring most, but not all, of their LGBTQ+ content in the Restricted Mode.
YouTube, for those aloof, includes a Restricted Mode which allows users to filter out inappropriate content from their video feed. This feature uses community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to prevent videos with sexual or explicit content to be surfaced on your child’s or your own video feed if you’ve enabled the same. But, how can these safety guidelines term LGBTQ+ content as potentially inappropriate or harmful.
This movement against YouTube started catching heat when several popular LGBTQ+ vloggers and creators raised similar issues of censorship for their videos. In addition to LGBTQ+ content, they discovered that restricted mode was also barring videos on topics such as dating, attraction, and inspiration from user’s feed. Due to the same, Twitter started buzzing with #YouTubeIsOverParty and #YouTubeRestricted over the weekend.
The said censorship of videos based on topic of content was brought to the community’s notice by British YouTuber Rowan Ellis. She has been active on YouTube for over two years, posting videos about her feminist and queer perspectives on pop culture. She posted a video on her channel on Thursday, calling out YouTube as ‘anti-LGBT’. And this video was also not shown in the feed when Restricted Mode was enabled. It was further topped off by YouTuber NeonFionna, who posted side-by-side screenshots showing what keywords were being filtered as LGBTQ+ content. It also hid same-sex marriage proposal videos, as reported by Gizmodo.
Just looked at my videos with the “restricted mode” on. Seeing a bit of a theme here…
— fiona ✨ (@neonfiona) March 16, 2017
This is a significant cry of concern from the community because it makes quite difficult for LGBTQ+ kids to show or find support from others around them. While they’re closeted and already finding it difficult to accommodate themselves to gender expectations of their society, this censorship is further denying them access to relevant content. Such individuals find reprieve in watching YouTubers who have already been faced with similar issues in the past. But, they may not be able to get acquainted with the same if their parents have enabled Restricted Mode. It is their only out and YouTube is filtering such content without presenting any explanations.
A message to our community … pic.twitter.com/oHNiiI7CVs
— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) March 20, 2017
But, YouTube has now also responded to the social media outburst with a message for the community. It praises the efforts of content creators to further the awareness of LGBTQ+ content on the platform. And then it goes on to apologize for the blunder caused due to its Restricted Mode and says that it’ll work on improving the same. The video platform is now aiming to alleviate the confusion and work towards building an inclusive and diverse community.