When on YouTube and scrolling through videos, people tend to notice some of the controversial and inappropriate comments that can be made, but it is hard for YouTube to stop this from occurring. YouTube has started to filter out these videos and comments, but this filtering may have pushed the limit a little too far. Recently, users have accused YouTube of hiding their materials that they posted while the “restricted mode” is on.
On YouTube, parents and adults have the option of activating the restricted mode on their YouTube account to hide content that may not be appropriate for their kids to watch. The restricted mode censors explicit content and comments. According to Google, which owns YouTube, the company “uses community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content.”
Many LGBT YouTubers are noticing that the videos they are posting are being restricted unfairly, even when they follow the policies. Tyler Oakley, an openly gay YouTuber, noticed that his video, “8 Black LGBT+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me,” was marked as restricted. This video talks about black advocates throughout history and does not have any explicit content.
Along with Oakley, Neonfiona, another YouTuber, noticed that any of her videos mentioning her girlfriend or the word lesbian were removed from her channel.
“I want to note that ‘An Honest Chat About Being Single’ discusses sex. My bi videos don’t. It’s just any and all LGBT+ titles being flagged,” she wrote on Twitter.
Neonfiona told Gizmodo that she worries kids who turn to YouTube for LGBT issues will miss out. “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.”
Gamers and ASMR YouTube channels have also reported that their videos are getting restricted, while some other LGBT videos are not getting restricted, thus leading people to believe there may just be a flaw in the updated restrictions.
“Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a very small subset of users who want to have a more limited YouTube experience,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.”
According to Rowan Ellis, a British YouTuber, the restriction makes it seem like because LGBT videos are being hidden, there is something offensive in being LGBT. “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.”
YouTube issued another statement on March 19 on its YouTube Creators Twitter account saying that it is investigating the issue.
“We regret any confusion this has caused and are looking into your concerns,” the statement from YouTube said. “We appreciate your feedback and passion for making YouTube such an inclusive, diverse, and vibrant community.”