YouTube has really screwed up.
Since it’s conception in 2005, millions of people flock to the website daily for music, tutorials, animal videos and more. Another thing the video tycoon really has going for it is the massive society of subscribers who dedicate little bits of their time to support their favourite vloggers (video bloggers).
However, when YouTube’s servers swept away the visibility of hundreds of videos and flagged them with “restricted content,” it was a big punch in the face to one community in particular.
The LGBTQ+ community has enough problems with representation, and YouTube’s latest system error is not helping.
The point of the restricted mode that the company has in place offers “to help screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see on YouTube,” according to its website’s help page.
While this can be great to help weed out some of the more questionable content that YouTube has lurking in it’s depths, I don’t think it really accounts for Lady Gaga music videos or makeup tutorials.
The point of having a streaming site like YouTube is to allow for easily accessible content, and by taking away the ability to view videos, regardless of if they have little to do with LGBTQ+ issues or a lot, it puts a lot of limitations on the kind of audience they attract. Not to mention the fact that it’s ridiculous.
If you take a look at some of the most popular personalities that the website has produced, many of them are either part of the LGBTQ+ community themselves, or express major support for it in some way. That being said, YouTube is a place that hosts the opportunity for people who are still trying to figure themselves out learn from the experiences of others and allows opportunity and self-acceptance to flourish.
Restricted modes like YouTube’s settings are generally used by computers in libraries, school (elementary through post-secondary levels) and other kinds of public institutions and are put in place by system administrators to control the kind of content that is available for the public — meaning you usually can’t disable them yourself.
As stated on the help page, “Restricted Mode” setting uses “community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content. Restricted Mode is available in all languages, but due to potential cultural sensitivities, the quality may vary.”
Taking this into consideration, the guidelines show that a lot YouTube’s content is judged based on viewer responses and how they may flag or report videos and how the content may conflict with age-based filters. Because of this, it would be likely that LGBTQ+ buzzwords and could be triggering; considered ‘mature’ or ‘sensitive’.
While this can be helpful in some environments, for some content, I don’t think censoring videos that have to do with trans men doing their makeup, trans women vlogging about their life experiences, or support and advice videos for young LGBTQ+ viewers is necessarily a good or viable idea.
Over the course of a day, Twitter blew up with post from celebrities and their fans. Pop-duo Tegan and Sara commented on how their videos shouldn’t be flagged by the restrictions, unless their dancing could be considered offensive, while YouTube star Tyler Oakley expressed concern for his video titled “8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me”.
The posts and responses peaked after YouTube issued an apology to the community, stating that they regret the confusion and are acknowledging the concerns people have in regards to the blockage, concluding with, “We appreciate your feedback and passion for making YouTube such an inclusive, diverse, and vibrant community.”
If YouTube really had the best interest of their community involved, and really wanted to create an inclusive, diverse and vibrant community like they say they do, filtering out content that could — in all honestly — be lifesaving to someone out there, isn’t the right way to go about reaching that goal.