YouTube was called out this week for flagging LGBT content as mature, thereby ensuring most of it is blocked when anyone turns on the site's "family-friendly" filter.
"Restricted Mode" allows people to limit the sort of videos that can be watched, eliminating content that could be deemed inappropriate for minors. The feature, luckily, is turned off by default. However, when it is turned on, even the most innocent videos by and for the queer community risk being removed from searches.
Gay YouTube personality Calum McSwiggan released a video complaining about the feature after he turned it on and found that only one of his videos remained accessible.
McSwiggan called the filter "offensive: and "backwards." He added that sex ed videos for the LGBT community were blocked by the filter; heterosexual sex ed videos were not.
Queer YouTuber Rowan Ellis tried it as well and found that 40 of her videos disappeared.
"We don’t really know how long it’s been there," Ellis said. "But it’s something that people are just starting to realize the extent of, particularly with regard to LGBT content."
And Tyler Oakley, one of the biggest gay YouTube stars, complained that a recent post was blocked even though it was about queer leaders of color. He tweeted: "One of my recent videos '8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me' is blocked because of this,"
YouTube issued something of a mea culpa to quell the growing backlash. The company released a statement, which said, in part:
"We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform -- they're a key part of what YouTube is all about. The intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience.
"LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be. We regret any confusion this has caused and are looking into your concerns.
YouTube continues to stream videos by Islamic jihadists, Christian anti-gay bigots, and scenes of bullying and violence; that it takes an outdated stance against queerness is not only regrettable, it is pathetic.