When Restricted Mode is Too Restricted
When we were all busy writing essays and reports two weeks ago, Twitter and other forms of social media were all ablaze with YouTube’s latest blunder: censoring out LGBT content on its “Restricted Mode.” The option can be enabled by those who choose, like parents of younger children, to “screen out potentially objectionable and inappropriate content.” In particular, a lot of LGBT content was dismissed as too controversial and indecent for the site. Prominent LGBT YouTubers and their allies blasted the Google-owned site on Twitter with the hashtag #YoutubeIsOverParty, which trended for hours:
• Fiona (@neonfiona): “Just looked at my videos with the “restricted mode” on. LGBT+ content not safe for kids?”
• Amelia Ace (@AmeliaAce_): “I’m literally fuming about how many of my videos r missing”
• Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley): “One of recent videos ‘8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me’ is blocked . . . please actively check on all LGBTQ+ creators”
British YouTube star Rowan Ellis attracted international attention to YouTube’s issue when she tweeted out that the Restricted Mode censored out “a hell of a lot of LGBT content,” which included roughly 40 of her own videos.
To put things in perspective, the filtering included transgender makeup videos, coming out videos of popular YouTubers like Trevor Moran and Shane Dawson, a documentary on transgenderism and even the marriage proposal between two men.
On March 19, YouTube issued a statement that reads:
“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. We appreciate your feedback and passion for making YouTube such an inclusive, diverse, and vibrant community.”
Although YouTube has a good reputation of supporting LGBT individuals and Restricted Mode may not seem like a big deal to some, the “glitch” or purposeful censorship is of utmost symbolic importance. It is an attack on people’s lives and identities—matters that should be celebrated.
Many LGBT kids hear homophobic slurs at schools, may be victims of bullying and yet receive absolutely no information about LGBT sexualities and identities in their classes. More often than not, teachers will do absolutely nothing about homophobic bullying. In the nation in which I was born, ethnic minorities were targets of bullying at school. I find it absolutely hypocritical that in Canada everyone is so accepting of race, yet very little is done to combat homophobic harassment.
YouTube serves as a platform and a lifeline for many young children struggling with their identities. It provides a place where kids can find others who shared their experiences, where they would know that they are not alone.
Censoring out LGBT content is synonymous to a slap in the face for those kids. It basically says that “your life is not important, and your existence is offensive” to others around you.
The impact on children outside of the West is greater, as they do not live in societies which at least try to embrace their identities. As a reminder, it is illegal to be LGBT in about 70 nations, with 10 nations imposing the death penalty. YouTube is fundamental to individual LGBT conceptions of self-worth.
I sincerely hope that YouTube figures out its issues quickly and such censorship never happens again. It is already hard enough to be a kid in school, LGBT children do not need it to be any harder with a major internet corporation denouncing their existence.comments powered by Disqus