Is Youtube homophobic?

Date:20 March 2017 Author: Lumka Nofemele Tags:,

YouTube has found itself in hot water.

The popular video sharing site has been called homophobic (amongst other things) since the recent discovery that the site’s restricted mode filters LGBT+ content.

According to YouTube, Restricted Mode hides videos that “may contain inappropriate content flagged by users.” Youtube concedes that “no filter is 100% accurate, but restricted mode should help you avoid most inappropriate content.”

The filter applies to content of a sexual nature, violence, strong language, hate speech and 90% of R.Kelly’s music videos, but also loads of videos depicting or discussing gay relationships.

The backlash online has led to #YouTubeIsOverParty trending worldwide on twitter and queer YouTubers taking to social media to air their concern and disgust.

Popular gay Youtuber and activist Tyler Oakley has had some of his content hidden under restricted mode. Musical duo Tegan and Sara have also spoken out against their videos being restricted. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ groundbreaking Same Love video which depicts a gay couple falling in love and getting married (with no sexual content whatsoever) is also hidden. Interestingly enough, the audio of the song is still available.

YouTube have tried to explain themselves with the following statement:

“We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform – they’re a key part of what YouTube is all about. The intention of Restricted Mode is 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.”

Rowan Ellis, who makes videos about pop culture from a feminist and queer perspective, says that she has had 40 videos ‘taken off’ and cites YouTube as a place for queer young people to come to terms with and better understand their sexuality. Interestingly enough, after gaining some traction, Ellis’ video explaining why Youtube’s filter is dangerous to young people and the LGBT+ community at large, has also now been restricted.

YouTube has in the past been very supportive of the LGBT+ community and its restricted mode is riddled with inconsistences across the board, but suggesting that homosexuality is ‘mature content’ or a ‘sensitive issue’ is damaging to the LGBT community.

YouTube has been urged to reconsider the parameters of ‘restricted mode’ asap.