YouTube responds to outrage over the categorisation of LGBTQ+ videos as restricted content

Users have noticed the platform filtering same-sex relationships and transition videos

Today (20 March), YouTube have issued a statement via their Twitter page, addressing the backlash against the ubiquitous platform after users noticed that their videos addressing LGBTQ+ themes and issues had been hidden.

The platform has said, “The intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience.”

The statement goes on to say, “LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be.”

A spokesperson for YouTube made a statement to The Guardian explaining that videos which “cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear”.

Last week, users began to realise that videos from LGBTQ+ bloggers, such as those documenting their transitions or featuring same-sex relationships, were hidden under the Restricted Mode. While the mode isn’t on by default, it is different to parental control settings.

Once vloggers and YouTube personalities had spoken out and shared their complaints, the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty started appearing on Twitter.

Blogger Rowan Ellis posted a video on 16 March pointing out “the extent of [the Restricted Mode], particularly in regards to LGBT-related content”.

She explains, “This is a mode which YouTube itself explains is for families and is for children, and it is filtering out a hell of a lot of LGBT content. I’ve had around 40 videos taken off in Restricted Mode.”

Listing more examples, Ellis highlights: “Calum [McSwiggan] has had every single video on his channel bar one taken off. NeonFiona has had all of her things to do with having a girlfriend taken off but not her thing to do with having a boyfriend.”

Blogger Amelia Ace’s video celebrating Asexual Awareness Week has also been restricted.

View more blogger reactions below.


Update: In a blog post yesterday (20 March), a spokesperson for YouTube has stated that they’ll be revising the opt-in function.

The post reads: “Our system sometimes make mistakes in understanding context and nuances when it assesses which videos to make available in Restricted Mode. For instance, the following videos are examples of where we got it wrong: Ash Hardell’s ‘Her Vows,’ Calum McSwiggan’s ‘Coming Out To Grandma,’ Jono and Ben’s ‘Woman interrupted during BBC interview,’ and Tegan and Sara’s ‘BWU [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO].'”

And it further clarifies: “We’ve manually reviewed the example videos mentioned above and made sure they’re now available in Restricted Mode – we’ll also be using this input to better train our systems. It will take time to fully audit our technology and roll out new changes, so please bear with us.”

The platform has also apologised on Twitter. See the tweet below.