When I think of YouTube, I think of a few personalities first. One of them is Laci Green, the queer sex-positive educator whose videos are truly #goals. I can truly say that without a whole generation of LGBTQ+ YouTubers, there would be so much I wouldn’t know about sexuality. And, that doesn’t even factor in how deeply important these folks are for young people who have to explore their gender and sexual identities clandestinely.
So when the news about YouTube’s Restricted Mode dropped, people were right to start a fuss.
In short, the automated filtering service ended up blocking a lot of videos with queer content. This is because, the company claims, Restricted Mode responds to user feedback. If a post receives enough flags, that could be enough to ban it from the public eye.
But then there’s the flip side of Restricted Mode, where it shows what content isn’t considered unsightly enough to ban.
And it’s here where advertisers like Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and PepsiCo are also boycotting YouTube. Videos with queer content seem to be meeting the Restricted Mode qualifications too readily. But, not enough hateful videos apparently merit Restricted Mode. After seeing their ads appear in front of racist (and probably other -ist) videos, big companies are dropping their ads entirely. The message isn’t necessarily one of queer solidarity, though that would be dope. The bottom line is that the Restricted Mode filtering system simply can’t judge offensiveness through context.
We truly hope that YouTube can figure out what’s going on with their filtering system. For now, we’ll keep an eye on what our favorite YouTubers are saying about the platform’s changes.