The popular video-streaming service YouTube is under fire from LGBTQ groups and creators over changes the company made to its family-friendly “Restricted Mode” functionality. YouTube explained the change in a tweet on Sunday:
A message to our community … pic.twitter.com/oHNiiI7CVs
— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) March 20, 2017
Sounds reasonable, right?
But then in a blog post Monday night, YouTube announced it will make changes to Restricted Mode after LGBTQ activists lobbied the company, complaining that it was unfairly impacting LGBTQ videos on the site:
Over the last several months, and most definitely over the last few days from LGBTQ and other communities, we’ve gotten lots of questions around what Restricted Mode is and how it works. We understand that this has been confusing and upsetting, and many of you have raised concerns about Restricted Mode and your content being unfairly impacted. The bottom line is that this feature isn’t working the way it should. We’re sorry and we’re going to fix it.
Johanna Wright, VP of Product Management for the company, went on to list a number of videos where she said the company “got it wrong”:
Our system sometimes make mistakes in understanding context and nuances when it assesses which videos to make available in Restricted Mode. For instance, the following videos are examples of where we got it wrong: Ash Hardell’s “Her Vows,” Calum McSwiggan’s “Coming Out To Grandma,” Jono and Ben’s “Woman interrupted during BBC interview,” and Tegan and Sara’s “BWU [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO].”
Some of the outrage at YouTube that led to the change:
This is bullshit because one of my MAKE-UP TUTORIALS is restricted. Be fucking honest. Own your shit. https://t.co/RPx1Piuc0p
— Stef Sanjati (@stefsanjati) March 20, 2017
But the fundamental issue you aren't addressing is flagging a video simply for LGBTQ language in the title. That is seriously problematic. https://t.co/HJ7bKqBCNm
— Dana Piccoli (@DanaPiccoli) March 20, 2017
We're OK generating ad revenue from hate speech, white nationalism and racism but *some* of these trans makeup tutorials are TOO MUCH. https://t.co/bdT9j27Dyj
— Gabe Gonzalez (@gaybonez) March 20, 2017
— Tegan and Sara (@teganandsara) March 20, 2017
Well this is terrible. WTF. https://t.co/kSMAnlmn2H
— Julie DiCaro (@JulieDiCaro) March 20, 2017
One of the YouTubers mentioned in a New York Times article on the Restricted Mode changes was Gigi Lazzarato, also known as Gigi Gorgeous (we did a post on Lazzarato back in August when Dubai blocked her from entering the country because she is transgender).
Lazzarato told the Times that some of her videos are “educational” and shouldn’t be restricted from children:
Ms. Lazzarato, who stars in a YouTube-produced documentary about her transition and who posted the video before YouTube issued its Twitter statement, noted that many of the videos in which she discusses her transition were blocked under restricted mode. Such content can be educational for children struggling with their own gender identity, she said.
Oh really? Like this one where she talks about a “sugar daddy” in Vegas?
And here’s how she talks about her documentary available on YouTube Red:
And holy shit I just noticed that my documentary trailer has 14m views!😱😱😱 I love you guys so fucking much it's crazy💖❤💖❤
— Gigi (@TheGigiGorgeous) March 20, 2017
Again, not really language suitable for children.
Oh, and parents — GO CHECK YOUR KIDS’ YOUTUBE SETTINGS RIGHT NOW.