YouTube 'restricted mode' draws scrutiny for blocking content
YouTube has been under fire from both advertisers and content creators over issues concerning the platform's content and censorship policies. Cropped Photo: MGN photo / Neil Esoy
YouTube confirmed Monday that users using the platform's "Restricted Mode" will not see "some videos" that "cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality," including content from some LGBTQ creators.
NBC News reported that many prominent LGBTQ vloggers and voices took to Twitter over the weekend with hashtags including #YouTubeIsOverParty and #YouTubeRestricted to highlight concerns that their content was missing or blocked when Restricted Mode was turned on.
Restricted Mode, according to YouTube's parent company, Google, is a way for users to opt to "screen out potentially objectionable content." A description in its privacy and security settings stated, "We use community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content."
According to some of the platform's content creators, however, Restricted Mode appears to target their content unfairly.
A tweet sent from the YouTube Creators account late Sunday responded: "We are so proud to represent the 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 our users who want a more limited experience."
"LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted mode," the statement read, "but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be."
The YouTube spokesman added that a "very small subset of users" had switched on the feature.
Vlogger Rowan Ellis, whose YouTube account has more than 22,000 followers and describes the content she creates as "pop culture from a feminist and queer perspective," posted a video Friday in which she stated that around 40 of her videos cannot be seen on restricted mode.
"We don't really know how long...it's been there but its something that I think people are just starting to realize the extent of it, particularly in regards to LGBT-related content," Ellis said.
Others posted examples on Twitter in which it appeared that videos that titles including the words "gay" and "lesbian" were hidden in restricted mode.
However, other users reported missing content on restricted mode that appeared to indicate the feature issues weren't confined to the LGBTQ+ community. Some, who specialized in virtual reality and gaming videos, reported that segments of their content appeared to be blocked as well.
YouTube and its owner Google have been under fire as they attempt to prevent the loss of prominent advertisers who were concerned that their ads were appearing next to extremist content and hate speech.
The U.K Government, L'Oreal, Audi and HSBC are among the brands that have suspended their promotional content from appearing on Google ads including the YouTube platform in recent days.