YouTube has faced backlash this week from social media, major corporations, and YouTube users themselves after the website found itself in two major controversies: blocking some LGBTQ videos in restricted mode & placing companies’ ads next to “extremist” videos.
These controversies started when YouTube viewers and content creators realized that some or all of their content was being blocked in YouTube’s optional restricted mode. According to YouTube’s user policy, restricted mode “hides videos that may contain inappropriate content flagged by users and other signals. No filter is 100% accurate, but it should help you avoid most inappropriate content.”
After word got around that YouTube was hiding some LGBTQ creator’s content in restricted mode, the hashtag #YouTubePartyIsOver started to trend on Twitter as viewers and YouTubers reacted to the revelation.
Popular gay YouTuber Tyler Oakley reacted on Twitter by saying, “still not fixed. one of my recent videos “8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me” is blocked because of this. i’m perplexed, @YouTube.”
YouTube later released a statement on their creator blog apologizing to their community.
“We understand that this has been confusing and upsetting, and many of you have raised concerns about Restricted Mode and your content being unfairly impacted. The bottom line is that this feature isn’t working the way it should. We’re sorry and we’re going to fix it.”
But, this wasn’t the only controversy YouTube faced this week. Many major companies have started pulling their advertising money from the video service after reports that major corporation’s ads are being placed next to “extremist” content. Companies, such as Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, Starbucks, Walmart, Volkswagen, AT&T, Verizon, have all halted advertising on YouTube.
An AT&T spokesman said to CNNTech that they removed their ads “Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again.”
Some YouTubers, like Infowars’ editor-at-large Paul Joseph Watson, have expressed concern over what direction YouTube will take next after these controversies. He is afraid that YouTube’s restriction mode and mislabeling of people like him as extremists will do damage to content creators. Watson expressed his concerns in a recent video on his YouTube channel:
(On YouTube’s login requirement for age restricted content) That immediately kills the momentum for your video and stops it going viral. And, that’s what they’ll do with this restricted mode. They’ll force people to sign in and age verify to see every single upload from those of us that have been put on the naughty step. It’s coming. Which of course will virtually kill all our channels and completely demotivate us from making more videos.
The social media outrage over restricted mode has died down, but hundreds of companies are continuing to pull money from the ad-revenue generating juggernaut as a new controversy seems to grows.