YouTubers have spoken out after discovering that the platform’s family filters are automatically blocking child-safe gay-friendly content.
The feature is designed to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content on the video-sharing website, but appears to be blocking any content that includes words such as ‘gay’, ‘queer’ and ‘trans’.
In a video addressing the issue, YouTuber Rowan Ellis reveals that 40 of her own videos do not show up when the filter is turned on, and that British YouTuber Calum McSwiggan “has had every single video on his channel bar one taken off.”
Ellis adds: “We don’t really know how long it’s been there, but it’s something that people are just starting to realise the extent of, particularly with regard to LGBT content.”
And she goes on to criticise the censorship of content designed to educate young people who may be coming to terms with their sexuality.
“One of the main issues around this is that queer youth cannot get support. YouTube is one of the only places that queer and trans youth, gay youth, bisexual youth, pansexual youth, asexual youth – any of these kids – have a way into community, have a way into knowledge, have a way into feeling like they aren’t alone.”
Urging YouTube to look into the issue, she says: “If you’re genuinely someone who wants to protect children, this is not the way to go about it.”
As more attention is drawn to the issue, other YouTubers took to Twitter to vent their frustration at censorship of their own videos.
Can’t believe YouTube would restrict content that is more PC than what you’d see on daytime TV, and is educational/explorative in nature 😕 https://t.co/ArVYPvSbd3
— Melanie Murphy (@melaniietweets) March 16, 2017
Just looked at my videos with the “restricted mode” on. Seeing a bit of a theme here…
— fiona ✨ (@neonfiona) March 16, 2017
Hey, @Youtube! These videos of mine are age restricted.
It seems that any time I talk about things related to my identity, it gets flagged. pic.twitter.com/hSrAnCkvYg
— Jeff Miller (@JeffAMiller17) March 16, 2017
A spokesperson for YouTube told Attitude: “Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a very small subset of users who want to have a more limited YouTube experience.
“Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.”