YouTube will reconsider its harassment policies and may update them, the company said in a new blog post. The statement was apparently prompted by public pressure on the company after a conflict between two YouTubers: Carlos Maza, who hosts for Vox, and Stephen Crowder, a conservative media personality. In response to backlash, YouTube has convened a blue-ribbon commission and appears to be hoping everyone will stop screaming.
(Vox shares a parent company with The Verge, Vox Media.)
YouTube has promised to consult journalists, experts, creators, and those who have experienced harassment as the company tries to figure out how to update its policies. “We are determined to evolve our policies, and continue to hold our creators and ourselves to a higher standard,” the blog post said. YouTube did not specify a timeline for this process.
Last week, Maza tweeted a very viral thread about how Crowder had targeted him for harassment, calling him — among other epithets — a “lispy sprite,” a “little queer,” and a “gay Latino from Vox.” Maza’s target was YouTube; he wanted to know why the company hadn’t responded to the derogatory remarks Crowder made about Maza’s sexuality and ethnicity, as can be seen in a supercut posted by Maza:
Since I started working at Vox, Steven Crowder has been making video after video "debunking" Strikethrough. Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity. Here's a sample: pic.twitter.com/UReCcQ2Elj— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 31, 2019
Last night, YouTube said Crowder’s homophobic harassment didn’t violate any of its policies, and that Crowder’s videos would stay up. Earlier today, YouTube said that it would remove ads from Crowder’s videos, a process known as “demonetization” among YouTubers.
But Crowder’s demonetization isn’t permanent; according to YouTube, Crowder can once again make money from ads if he “addresses all of the issues with his channel,” at least one of which is a link to a store where Crowder hawks shirts that say “Socialism is for F*gs.” Maza said YouTube’s action was insufficient. Crowder’s supporters are accusing Maza of trying to harm a creator’s means of making a living.
YouTube’s policies have satisfied no one in this very public debacle, which is likely why the company is now reconsidering them. “Policies need to keep up with current problems. One particular challenge we face more and more these days is creator-on-creator harassment,” YouTube wrote in its post. Here, the company attempts to explain its rationale for demonetizing videos that YouTube said didn’t violate its policies:
Even if a creator’s content doesn’t violate our community guidelines, we will take a look at the broader context and impact, and if their behavior is egregious and harms the broader community, we may take action. In the case of Crowder’s channel, a thorough review over the weekend found that individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines. However, in the subsequent days, we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetization.
But one thing that new policies won’t solve is YouTube’s enforcement problem. After Crowder’s videos were demonetized, several creators told The Verge they weren’t surprised YouTube didn’t enforce its own existing harassment policies.
If the company were to enforce its policies, slews of channels could be affected, including very popular “drama’ channels. “There would be no commentary community if this humiliation policy was enforced,” Een, one of YouTube’s most popular commentators who goes by Nerd City, told The Verge.