YouTube issued several apologies last week after receiving heavy backlash when its “family-friendly” Restricted Mode blocked videos posted by LGBTQ+ vloggers.
- Johanna Wright, YouTube’s VP of Product Management
The video sharing website’s Restricted Mode, originally introduced for schools in 2010, is an optional control setting that users can activate to avoid viewing potentially mature content which enables a more tightly controlled user experience. The system depends heavily on community flagging, age restrictions, video descriptions, titles, etc. to function. In a statement to CNN YouTube stated, “Videos that contain LGBT topics are available in Restricted Mode, however, some videos that cover subjects like health, politics, and sexuality may no longer appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.”
Many vloggers and users took to Twitter to voice their frustrations using the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty as they felt the feature unfairly blocked many videos posted by LGBTQ+ YouTubers even if it had nothing to do with LGBTQ+ issues. They also found it very hypocritical that videos that contained hate speech, such as “Why Do I Hate Gay People?” (16K views) and “Things I HATE About GAYS” (230K views), were not restricted. Among some of the blocked videos are Tyler Oakley’s (~8M subscribers) “8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me,” make-up tutorials, an LGBTQ+ couple reciting their wedding vows, and several music videos posted by Tegan and Sara (~230K subscribers). In addition to Gigi Gorgeous and Stef Sanjati who are a part of YouTube documentaries and videos that show their transition journey, many vloggers feel that the feature is hiding the pro-LGBTQ+ content that can be educational to children who are struggling with accepting and understanding their sexual orientation or gender identity.
As it stands, the Restricted Mode filter appears to not entirely match the LGBTQ+ community with the phrase “family-friendly,” and although YouTube stated, “while the system will never be 100% perfect, we must and will do a better job,” it has yet to be fixed.