This past weekend, YouTube was accused of purposely blocking videos concerning LGBTQ+ topics when in “Restricted Mode,” an accusation that has caused the company a great deal of unwanted attention. Why is this causing so much anger in the community? Well, typically “Restricted Mode” is used by parents, schools, and libraries to help monitor what children are able to view on the Internet; videos with porn, extreme violence, foul language or other inappropriate content are blocked from being viewed when the mode is active. So if videos containing LGBTQ+ content are blocked in restricted mode, YouTube is basically saying that this type of content is inappropriate for viewers of a certain age — if it was done purposely.
YouTuber Rowan Ellis was among the first to point out that videos covering things like relationships or crushes (not very inappropriate) were being filtered out of Restricted Mode, and apparently without their creators’ knowledge. She addresses the issue in a video titled ‘YouTube Is Anti-LGBT?’
YouTube quickly responded to the accusations in a Twitter post:
The company then issued another post that read:
As nice as an apology is, many are still upset with the recent discovery questioning whether issues concerning the LGBTQ+ community are so provocative that they need to be hidden away from children? Naturally, there will always be content, whether it’s LGBTQ or not that needs to be restricted because of inappropriate content like nudity, violence, foul language, and etc., but in this case, as YouTube basically admitted, some restrictions have gone too far.
But it is fair to mention that this miss labeling of videos can be likely attributed to two things, a far-reaching flaw of the algorithm used to identify potentially objectionable content, or enough YouTube members have flagged the content to make it age-restricted; something that has happened to many pop music videos that no longer appear in Restricted Mode, from artists including Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus and 5 Seconds of Summer.