Several popular LGBTQ+ YouTube vloggers have claimed that YouTube is using the site’s “restricted mode” to hide some of their videos.
The restricted mode for YouTube, according to Google, enables users to filter out “potentially objectionable content,” leading some LGBTQ+ vloggers to accuse YouTube of implicitly categorizing their material as not “family-friendly.”
That’s the complaint British vlogger Rowan Ellis made to Gizmodo, saying, there is a bias somewhere within that process equating LGBT+ with not family friendly.
Ellis posted her own video addressing the issue after she found dozens of her videos fell victim to the process.
In a statement to Gizmodo, YouTube said, Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.
Mashable has also reached out for comment from YouTube.
On Sunday night, the Twitter account for the YouTube Creators page tweeted the following statement that offered a little more detail on the filtering but didn’t explain how some of the more innocuous videos that got caught in the filter wound up there.
But YouTube doesn’t appear to have answered the question as to why these specific videos were flagged. In one such instance, flagged by user NeonFiona, videos about sex and relationships weren’t flagged but videos that directly referred to LGBTQ+ issues were.
And vlogger superstar Tyler Oakley, who has 8 million subscribers, also noted one of his videos was flagged.
I confirmed that the video he mentions (posted below) does, indeed, get flagged by turning on restricted mode.
The only thing that someone could maybe find objectionable in the video (which is actually a lot of fun and informative) is a naughty word or two. But, as the screenshot below shows, it’s not like YouTube is in the habit of filtering out videos with swear words in the title, even in restricted mode.
Additionally, musical duo Tegan & Sara found that several of their music videos disappeared, too, when their page is viewed in restricted mode.
One of the videos that disappear is the video for “That Girl,” which features nothing images, lyrics, themes that are objectionable for a family audience.
Vloggers are vocalizing their objections and calling on YouTube to offer an explanation that actually lays out specifics as to why the filtering is happening.
until we hear back from @youtube, please actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators you’re subscribed to & continue to support their content.
Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) March 19, 2017
In a (yes, restricted) video titled “This Video Is Too Gay For Kids,” Calum McSwiggan says he understands why some of his videos that include swearing and more adult content is snagged by the filter but notes other videos that have no questionable content were still filtered.
He specifically notes a video in which he talks about coming out to his grandmother and says, “How on Earth is that not suitable for children? If anything, it would be extremely beneficial and helpful for children to see that, especially children who are struggling to deal with their identity, especially to LGBT+ kids.”
It’s a well-made and important point, and one that YouTube has yet to adequately answer.
UPDATE (8:50 p.m. ET): Updated to include Tegan and Sara’s comment on their music videos as well as YouTue Creator statement.