YouTube admits making mistakes and says sorry for ‘confusing and upsetting’ LGBT users

Josh Jackman March 21, 2017
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YouTube has admitted making “mistakes,” and promised “we’re going to fix” a phenomenon which saw many LGBT videos hidden from some viewers.

The site’s Restricted Mode feature, introduced by Google to “filter out potentially inappropriate content,” had automatically hidden many seemingly benign LGBT videos.

After the site said “Sorry for all the confusion” in a tweet yesterday evening, Johanna Wright, YouTube’s VP of Product Management, went further in her apology for the malfunctioning feature.

“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,” she wrote.

“The bottom line is that this feature isn’t working the way it should. We’re sorry and we’re going to fix it.”

The option is off by default, but users can turn it on and lock the setting, often taking that decision so children aren’t exposed to offensive or explicit videos.

Wright said rather than educational LGBT videos such as Fiona Morgan’s Do LGBT+ Australians Want Gay Marriage?, the mode was meant to restrict posts including profanity, violence, addictions and eating disorders.

“Our system sometimes makes mistakes in understanding context and nuances when it assesses which videos to make available in Restricted Mode,” she continued.

Wright apologised for blocking videos from LGBT YouTubers Ash Hardell, Calum McSwiggan and Tegan and Sara, admitting: “we got it wrong”.

“While the system will never be 100 percent perfect, as we said up top, we must and will do a better job.

“Thanks to your feedback, 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.

“There’s nothing more important to us than being a platform where anyone can belong, have a voice and speak out when they believe something needs to be changed.”

The statement came after days of confusion and anger from viewers and creators – during which YouTube said it was “proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices” but opaquely added it hides “videos that discuss more sensitive issues”.

Creators and viewers expressed their outrage over the weekend, with ##YouTubeIsOverParty trending first worldwide.

Many framed their arguments around the fact that a lot of children will be unable to learn about LGBT issues through YouTube.

LGBT creator Rowan Ellis sparked the controversy after posting a video in which she said the move by YouTube implied a “bias” because it “equates LGBT with ‘not family friendly’.”

And the anger flowed from many prominent YouTubers.

Fiona Morris, whose username is neonfiona, has uploaded 136 videos over the past seven years. 67, one fewer than half of them, were not shown under Restricted Mode.

Some examples of restricted videos were The Girlfriend TEST ft Riley Jay Dennis, What People Say When You Come Out As Bisexual and Do LGBT+ Australians Want Gay Marriage?

The last of those videos has now been taken off Restricted Mode.

Trans YouTuber SeaineLove also found her videos were hidden with the feature. She considers the videos that were hidden to be “pretty G-rated”.

Related topics: alleged homophobia, Education, lgbt education, restricted mode, US, YouTube, YouTube content

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