YouTube keeps age restricting LGBTQ videos, and here’s why it’s *so* not cool
Content creators are unhappy with video streaming service YouTube as it seems LGBTQ videos are being blocked by the service’s “Restricted Mode.”
In a bid to help reduce the amount of offensive content, YouTube’s “Restricted Mode” filters videos to hide “potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see.” The feature relies on the YouTube community flagging age-restricted content, and also picks up on key words and “other signals” to help hide inappropriate content.
However, some LGBTQ YouTubers are finding that their videos are being hidden by the feature, sparking outrage among the community.
Taking to Twitter, popular YouTuber, author, and activist Tyler Oakley shared his upset over the move, noting that YouTube has yet to respond to the problem, and asking his followers to subscribe to LGBTQ YouTubers.
Oakley’s tweets come after British YouTuber Rowan Ellis, whose videos focus on “pop culture from a feminist and queer perspective,” also shared a video about the issue, where she criticized the platform.
Speaking during the video, Ellis explained how she’d had over 40 videos hidden to users who have “Restricted Mode” enabled, noting that the filter feeds into “this insidious poison which makes [LGBTQ individuals] seem inappropriate. ”
As Gizmodo note, other LGBTQ YouTubers have had their videos hidden under “Restricted Mode,” such as Ash Hardell’s clip in which her and her partner read each other their wedding vows.
Speaking to Teen Vogue about the problem, Tyler Oakley echoed Ellis’s sentiments, saying that the filter would ultimately have a negative affect on LGBTQ individuals.
"YouTube has always been a place for disenfranchised voices to reach audiences who are actively seeking representation in media," he said. "It's often the first place many LGBTQ+ youth around the world see themselves and their stories shared and celebrated. Blocking LGBTQ+ creators and content is harmful, plain and simple."
As Tyler noted on Twitter, one of his latest videos, “8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me,” has been hidden under YouTube’s “Restricted Mode.”
YouTuber NeonFiona also shared her own experience with the “Restricted Mode” filter, telling Gizmodo that she believed it would have an adverse affect on LGBTQ youth.
“Kids who want to know about different orientations and definitions and about the history of LGBT people, etc, they can’t access that when their videos are being restricted,” she said. “Restricting these videos makes it harder for these kids to find information they need and the community that they’ve been missing.
In their report, Gizmodo notes that the filter seems to also be affecting gaming YouTube channels, and highlighted how it’s not picking up all LGBTQ-themed videos. This could, they suggest, be a flaw with the streaming giant’s algorithm.
In a statement shared on Twitter, YouTube responded to the criticizm, noting that “we are so proud to represent many LGBTQ+ voices on our platform.” However, the streaming giant said that “LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be.”
However, for Ellis this isn’t good enough.
“Videos about LGBTQ+ life, love, history, friendships etc are no more inappropriate than videos with straight couples or telling the history of straight figures,” she told Gizmodo. “Yet they are apparently being treated differently.”
While YouTube have said that they are looking into the issue, judging by tweets from content creators it seems that the problem is on going.