YouTube is taking fire from many of its biggest creators over concerns that its filtering system is unnecessarily shielding certain LGBTQ-related videos from users. The issue stems from YouTube’s “Restricted Mode” feature, which it says is an “optional feature used by a very small subset of users who want to have a more limited YouTube experience.” As many YouTubers began pointing out beginning late last week, that feature, when activated, is censoring videos merely referencing same-sex issues, including coming-out videos.
The video giant’s “Restricted Mode” uses “community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content” and is a popular tool among parents, schools and libraries to avoid blatantly NSFW content from surfacing. Responding to criticism (and the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty) on Sunday, YouTube insisted that “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.”
YouTube’s explanation was met with frustration from many top creators (see below), along with Canadian pop-rock duo Tegan and Sara, which noticed on Sunday that its video for the song U-Turn had been restricted. “Nothing gay in it accept us. Our dancing IS pretty bad. Must be why? @youtube is it our dancing?” they asked on Twitter.
Here’s YouTube’s statement, plus a selection of complaints:
A message to our community … pic.twitter.com/oHNiiI7CVs
— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) March 20, 2017
— Tegan and Sara (@teganandsara) March 20, 2017
— Jenna Marbles (@Jenna_Marbles) March 20, 2017
@YTCreators Step 1: Agree that there is a problem. Step 2: Suspend the program. Step 3: Thank creators for discovering this problem.
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) March 20, 2017
@YTCreators This did nothing but confirm the insane idea that some people find very NORMAL videos to be “sensitive issues”
WHY cater to them
— natalie tran (@natalietran) March 20, 2017
.@YTCreators you blocked my coming out video that addresses labels we face daily, a video MADE for LGBTQ youth – nothing is sensitive.
— Jordan Doww (@JordanDoww) March 20, 2017
.@YTCreators you’re blocking everything with any hint of lgbtq+! Vids of me swearing aren’t restricted but transwomen makeup tutorials are
— dodie (@doddleoddle) March 20, 2017
.@YTCreators my coming out video is restricted.. can’t at all wrap my mind around how that’s possible
— Shannon Beveridge (@nowthisisliving) March 20, 2017
@YTCreators coming out videos should not be classified as “sensitive content” unless videos abt heteronormative dating also classify
— venmo famous meat (@AlexisGZall) March 20, 2017
@YTCreators pls, pls, fix the feed, more than 3 weeks and im still waiting the notification for some of my videos… :S
— AlphaSniper97 (@Alphasniper97) March 20, 2017
@YTCreators you guys have no clue what you’re doing.
— ChimneySwift (@ChimneySwift11) March 20, 2017