Commentary

YouTube Faces Heat Over LGBTQ 'Restriction'

Considering how many videos are on YouTube, it seems very likely you’ll always be able to find something offensive there. Considering how many users there — 180 million in the U.S. — and how much they consume, it’s impossible not to offend at least some of them.

So, to me, it’s surprising that YouTube has copped to hiding LGBTQ videos in its “restricted mode.”

Not because those subjects, or those people are offensive, but because of YouTube’s volume. But because I wonder how YouTube finds a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning video among all the others, and then how does it decide some can play to the masses and some cannot?

And who at YouTube is crazy enough to be the judge and jury?

Good questions. I’d hate that job.

That became an issue over the weekend, possibly started by YouTuber Rowan Ellis, who spilled the beans on the restricted mode in video she posted March 16. In it, she asserts YouTube is restricting “a helluva lot” of LGBT videos, and says more than 40 of her own have been put into the restricted category.

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So far about 23,000 people have seen her video about it, titled “YouTube is Anti-LGBT?” Its impact is wider than that.

Over the weekend, YouTube attempted to explain:

“The intention of restricted mode is to filter out mature content, YouTube explained, “ to “filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience ... “LGBTQ+ videos are available in restricted mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be. We regret any confusion this has caused and are looking into your concerns.”

Tyler Oakley, with 8 million subscribers and one of the better brand names on YouTube, complained that one of his videos was also flagged.

I think many Americans expect mass media to make judgments about what the masses should find acceptable.

That’s a tricky job in a rapidly changing and quite divided world.

All kinds of material out there are offensive to some, even as it is totally non-offensive to others. But it’s fair to say that attitudes in this world do not change as quickly as we’d like to think, even on subjects that would seem rather settled, like global warming, corporal punishment, racial equality, or very, very broadly, tolerance.

YouTube is the hub of user-generated content; the caveat emptor is obvious and implied. Users and advertisers must know that, and YouTube must be used to the heat.

This week, it is being criticized for what it has restricted; a little more than a month ago, it was being criticized for allowing material from PewDiePie that was plainly anti-Semitic.

For advertisers afraid of that potentially volatile atmosphere, the option is to stay away. 
pj@mediapost.com
2 comments about "YouTube Faces Heat Over LGBTQ 'Restriction'".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, March 20, 2017 at 3:16 p.m.

    This is a no-win situation for everyone involved. Imagine if everyone recognized that and tried to work together towards a solution instead of immediately firing off salvos and trolling comments. But that doesn't happen in today's world. I sense that content producers are more interested in the sanctity of their own platforms than in the sensibilities of a potential viewer. 

    For viewers there's also this thing that's now called "parenting" that people should look into when judging content. I'm pretty sure you can spell parenting without y-o-u-t-u-b-e.

  2. Tom Tyler from GCTVTexas, March 20, 2017 at 4:21 p.m.

    The PC Nazis, including LGBT, started the contemporary Censorship movement, but as usual they don't like it when their stuff gets censored.

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