LGBTQ creators are suing YouTube and, its parent company, Google over alleged claims that the platform has shown discriminatory behaviors by unfairly applying its policies and algorithms against content that feature LGBTQ-centered content, which is unmonetized and not seen by a wide audience.
A handful of YouTube creators joined to file a class-action lawsuit against the two companies, claiming that they have been affected by the platform’s practices. Notably, a class-action could include more plaintiffs under the same claims.
The lawsuit alleges that YouTube’s policies are not applied evenly across content, allowing LGBTQ content to be marked as “shocking” and “sexually explicit,” with hate speech proliferating on the platform.
YouTube deploys “unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBTQ+ plaintiffs and the greater LGBTQ+ community,” the suit says.
Furthermore, the suit says that YouTube removed advertising from videos featuring “trigger words” such as “gay” or “lesbian,” labels that are LGBT-themed videos and tagged as “sensitive” or “mature.” As a result, these videos are restricted from appearing in Youtube’s search results or recommendations.
Significantly, GNews!, one of the cited instances in the lawsuit, details that Google refused to let the creators of the show to advertise their program.
One of the plaintiffs alleges a Google employee explicitly telling creators that they cannot purchase an ad due to its LGBTQ-related content. Celso Dulay and Chris Knight, who produce GNews!, discussed how they’ve tried multiple times to buy an ad on YouTube to promote its Christmastime Show, but failed.
In response, YouTube detailed that rejection the ad was due to its “shocking content.” When Dulay and Knight tried to dispute YouTube’s decision, a content regulator allegedly told the two creators that their ad was likely rejected because of the “gay thing.”
The class-action is filed and led by Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers, who runs a joint YouTube channel with more than 850,000 subscribers, Amp Somers, who produces sex education videos, Chase Ross, who documents his experiences as a transgender man, and Lindsay Amer, who produces LGBT-themed educational videos.
In particular, Bria and Chrissy said that the effect of YouTube’s policies have meant the married couple is no longer able to make a living creating videos. The pair used to bring in 5 million views and $3,500 to $4,000 a month through their YouTube channel. But for the past two years, the couple’s revenue has dropped to earning a meager $400 to $500 a month.
“They are removing our thumbnails, they are not sending our videos out to our subscribers, they are removing subscribers. We are age-gated. We are age-restricted.” said Kam.
Ross, on the other hand, alleges that his videos are routinely placed in restricted mode by YouTube, even those talking about self-care. In other instances, the complaint says that Ross had his videos removed and account suspended, only for YouTube to reinstate him and say it was an error after he vented his frustration on social media.
In light of the current proceeding, YouTube continued to deny the allegations and told the press that they do not discriminate LGBT-related content creators nor the videos that they produce.
“Our policies have no notion of sexual orientation or gender identity and our systems do not restrict or demonetize videos based on these factors or the inclusion of terms like ‘gay’ or ‘transgender’,” spokesman Alex Joseph said.
“In addition, we have strong policies prohibiting hate speech and we quickly remove content that violates our policies and terminate accounts that do so repeatedly,” Joseph added.
YouTube said it had removed 220 million comments in the first three months of 2019, 99% of which had been detected automatically. Additionally, the platform also said that it had removed more than 3,000 channels for publishing hate speech.
However, YouTube was recently involved in another LGBT-themed online dispute between two YouTubers — Carlos Maza, who hosts for Vox, and Stephen Crowder, a conservative media personality.
YouTube faced criticism for not doing enough to avoid harassment and abusive language, and not being able to protect LGBTQ users in the platform’s community.
Apparently, the platform has been providing a convenient platform for Crowder’s videos that usually features bullying and homophobic speech. Crowder posted various videos involving Carlos Maza — where he made unnecessary comments with underlying and blatant tones on homophobia and racism, Maza claims.
YouTube only made a response and acted on the allegations after receiving multiple tweets and comments from people that Crowder should be penalized for his actions, which YouTube then said that they have demonetized his account but also affirmed that they will overturn it once Crowder has cleaned his account.