LOS ANGELES — YouTube said it's working to correct a process that placed LGBTQ content from some YouTube creators in "restricted mode," an opt-in feature that screens what some parents might deem as objectionable content.
The response came after widely followed creators including Tyler Oakley and Gigi Gorgeous complained about the disappearance of their videos with LGBTQ themes — such as profiles of inspiring leaders — under the restricted filter this weekend.
In a nutshell, this is a case of a YouTube filter placing any gay-themed content—from coming out stories to dating tips—into the category of "sexual" restricted content, a designation creators called wrong and harmful to their followers.
Oakley, who has 5.6 million followers on Twitter and over 8 million subscribers to his YouTube channels, said he was "perplexed" about YouTube's move, adding that his recent video "8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me" had been blocked.
YouTube performer Gorgeous, who starred in a YouTube Red documentary from noted filmmaker Barbara Kopple about her transformation from Gregory to Gigi, posted an entire video blasting the restrictions. She put on the Restricted tab as a test, and found most of her videos were not there. "Nothing personal, no story times, none of my videos talking about my gender or my sexual orientation or anything like that." The move "kind of makes us, the LGBTQ community, look bad."
YouTube, which regularly touts videos from the LGBTQ community in promotions, released a statement late Sunday night, then followed up twice Monday, with a new statement, and finally a blog post. "The bottom line is that this feature isn't working the way it should," Johanna Wright, YouTube's vice-president of Product Management said in the post. "We're sorry and going to fix it."
"YouTube Restricted" is for a way for parents to block potentially offensive content. Apparently that includes the existence of gay people?— Hank Green (@hankgreen) March 19, 2017
The Restricted Mode feature, YouTube said, is optional, and used by just a "very small subset of users," 1.5 percent of daily views, the Google-owned unit said. "We designed this feature to broadly restrict content across more mature topics, whether these are videos that contain profanity, those that depict images or descriptions of violence, or discussion of certain diseases like addictions and eatings disorders," Wright said in her post. "Our system sometimes make mistakes in understanding context and nuances when it access which videos to make available in restricted Mode."
Glad u guys are looking into your mistake. But perhaps u should also share how u will determine what is "sensitive" and will b restricted? https://t.co/ZARor0Lf1E— Tegan and Sara (@teganandsara) March 20, 2017
To watch without restrictions, go to the account section of YouTube, where you will be given the option of watching in Restricted mode. Click off if you prefer to watch YouTube without filters.
Wright said it will take time for YouTube to fully audit the technology and roll out new changes to Restricted Mode.
A message to our community ... pic.twitter.com/oHNiiI7CVs— YouTube Creators (@YTCreators) March 20, 2017
Decided to check something, and put my youtube on Restricted Mode. Seems like 80% of my channel is restricted. How did this happen? xD pic.twitter.com/mB7kIdiNbh— Sven Snider (@svensnider) March 20, 2017