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Queer content creators have accused YouTube of hiding their videos with a new “restricted mode”. The video sharing site introduced the feature to automatically filter out “offensive content”.
According to Google, the company uses “community flagging, age-restriction, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content”.
Rowan Ellis is one of many LGBT creators who have criticised YouTube for the feature, arguing that it means their content is being blocked. Ellis made a video hitting out at YouTube, and when restricted mode is turned on the video is hidden. She said that move by YouTube implies a “bias” because it “equates LGBT with ‘not family friendly’.”
NeonFiona, another LGBT creator posted screen shots of her channel without the mode, and with the mode. Videos with the words gay, lesbian and bisexual were all hidden from her channel with the mode switched on. Trans YouTuber SeaineLove also found her videos were hidden with the feature. She considers the videos that were hidden to be “pretty G rated”.
The YouTubers who are finding that their content is being censored have expressed that they’re not worried about the effect on the ratings, but the effect on young people seeking out their own LGBT education. Seaine said she wanted young LGBT identifying people to “be able to watch my videos and go ‘Hey, I feel the same way! That’s how I am too!”
NeonFiona added: “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. Restricting these videos makes it harder for these kids to find information they need and the community that they’ve been missing.”
A spokesperson for Google said: “Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a very small subset of users who want to have a more limited YouTube experience. Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.”
YouTube has always claimed to be queer friendly. But it’s making it seem that all videos that talk about someone’s sexual, romantic or gender identity – aren’t appropriate, even when they don’t show it in a sexual way.