Why LGBT Videos Might Not Be Showing Up on YouTube

March 19th 2017

Willie Burnley Jr.

YouTube is in hot water after several content creators took to social media to claim videos dealing with LGBT issues have disappeared for many users who browse the website in restricted mode.

Restricted mode, according to YouTube-owner Google, is meant to “screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don't want others in your family to see on YouTube” and works by using “community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content.” But what is so inappropriate about LGBT content?

Michael Buckley, whose channel is largely erased in restricted mode, including an advice video in which he tries to help young gay people feel comfortable with their sexuality, released a video accusing YouTube of restricting LGBT videos because they believe the content is inherently not family-friendly. Others, like Rowan Ellis, released content that argued that Youtube’s family-friendly filter is part of a larger issue of the sexualization of queer and transgender people.

As Ellis points out, this can be particularly devastating for queer children who may not have resources provided for them and who could use the Internet to learn that they are not alone in their feelings. This is important because LGB youth from the 7th through 12th grade are twice as likely to have attempted suicide than their heterosexual peers, and 25 percent of transgender youths had attempted suicide, according to studies cited by the Center for Disease Control.

There’s no clear word from YouTube yet why these videos are being so heavily censored, but it is possible that reporting from families that do not like LGBT content is biasing their algorithm. That said, it is clear that many people will be unhappy if LGBT content that is age-appropriate is unduly restricted.