YouTube has released a statement in response to accusations that it is discriminating against its LGBTQ users by hiding certain videos in its Restricted Mode. The company issued the statement on Sunday night, after several popular LGBTQ vloggers and video creators, discovered that videos on topics such as dating, attraction, and inspiration had been hidden by default in the mode. Many led criticism against the company using the #YouTubeIsOverParty hashtag on Twitter.
In the statement, which was put out via the YouTube Creators Twitter account, YouTube said that “LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be.” A YouTube spokesperson clarified what these sensitive issues my be in a statement to The Guardian, saying that while using Restricted Mode, videos “that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear.”
A message to our community ... pic.twitter.com/oHNiiI7CVs— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) March 20, 2017
The criticism came after several popular users noted that some of their videos on same-sex relationships, crushes, and coming out were hidden when using Restricted Mode. British YouTuber Rowan Ellis was one of the first to address the concern in a video posted on Thursday, leading many other personalities to check into their own backlog, discovering that videos on a range of topics were removed.
YouTube said that the mode was designed to filter out “mature” content, but the approach seemed to be scattershot in relation to LGBTQ users’ videos. Popular personality Tyler Oakley — who has more than 8 million subscribers — noted that a video titled “8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me” was rendered invisible in the mode, despite no obviously adult content in the video. Otherwise innocuous videos like makeup tutorials created by trans users were also removed.
until we hear back from @youtube, please actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators you're subscribed to & continue to support their content.— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) March 19, 2017
YouTube noted that that Restricted Mode, which is off by default, was an “optional feature used by a very small subset of users,” and that it was intended to “filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience.” Some users also noted that a handful of pop videos — including songs by Taylor Swift — were also removed from view in Restricted Mode, leading some to question whether the algorithm that flags videos for removal needed to be tweaked.
“We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform,” YouTube’s statement read. “They’re a key part of what YouTube is all about.” For now, the company said that it regretted the confusion, and that it was looking into users’ concerns.