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YouTube says sorry for ‘homophobic’ adverts reportedly targeting LGBT videos

Ella Braidwood July 3, 2018

(jm3 / Flickr)

YouTube has apologised for adding anti-gay adverts on videos by LGBT YouTubers.

Following recent controversy about YouTube’s relationship with LGBT content on the site, several LGBT video creators had hit out at a stream of anti-gay adverts on the platform, slamming the company for accepting money from anti-LGBT organisations.

In a series of posts on June 30 – the end of Pride month – YouTube’s official Twitter account responded to the complaints, apologising for the homophobic adverts, and promising to improve its policies to protect the LGBT community.

(YouTube/Twitter)

“It’s the last day of Pride Month and we wanted to reach out to the LGBTQ community. We’re proud of the incredible LGBTQ voices on our platform and the important role you play in the lives of young people,” YouTube said on Twitter.

“But we’ve also had issues where we let the LGBTQ community down–inappropriate ads and concerns about how we’re enforcing our monetisation policy. We’re sorry and we want to do better.”

(YouTube/Twitter)

“We’ve taken action on the ads that violate our policies, and we are tightening our enforcement. And when we hear concerns about how we’re implementing our monetisation policy, we take them seriously and make improvements if needed.

“It’s critical to us that the LGBTQ community feels safe, welcome, equal, and supported on YouTube. Your work is incredibly powerful and we are committed to working with you to get this right.”

Blogger Gaby Dunn had previously asked her fans whether they had seen any anti-LGBT adverts before her videos, after being alerted by some viewers.

(@gabydunn / Twitter)

The bisexual writer wrote: “If you’re a fan of [Just Between Us], have you been seeing anti-gay ads before our videos? Some viewers just alerted me to this and other YouTubers are having this problem too.”

Multiple people responded to say they had seen a range of overtly anti-LGBT adverts on the channels of a number of LGBT creators, including Dodie Clark.

The adverts reportedly range from ultra-conservative rants comparing being gay to abuse and paedophilia to political messages in support of anti-LGBT legislation.

One of the most criticised adverts comes from conservative radio host Michael Brown, whose two-minute long advert condemns being gay using quotes from the bible.

And, after being told that the anti-LGBT adverts, including Brown’s, were being featured on his channel, transgender YouTube star Chase Ross hit out at the platform for allowing the adverts.

(@ChaseRoss / Twitter)

He wrote: “Why is YouTube taking money from these organisations?

He added: “I mean, technically that means anti-LGBT organisations are literally giving money to LGBT folk. Lol.”

Other viewers stated that adverts from the anti-gay law firm Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) had been spotted on videos made by LGBT people.

The notorious Christian group has opposed same-sex weddings, gay adoptions, civil unions, and even the repeal of Sodomy laws – strongly opposing the 2003 Supreme Court decision to strike down state laws banning gay sex.

In 2017, civil rights and extremism watchdog the Southern Poverty Law Center officially marked the ADF as an anti-LGBT hate group.

(Creative Commons)

The ADF videos reportedly feature the case of a florist who refused to serve a gay couple, who has since waged a lengthy legal battle over a discrimination case.

Queer YouTuber Rowan Ellis said that the adverts may be due to YouTube’s automated algorithm, which she described as “fundamentally flawed.”

Ellis told PinkNews: “I think one of the issues with this, and other LGBTQ+ based issues we’ve seen on YouTube in the past, is the fact we don’t know. We can infer, and suspect, but ultimately we don’t know from the “outside” how these decisions are made, and who made them.

(Creative Commons)

“I suspect that the approval of ads and the distribution of them to videos is done largely without direct human input via methods that might include machine learning and set programmes.”

Ellis also criticised the adverts for the impact they could have on the audiences, particularly young and more vulnerable people.

She said: “These are particularly damaging when run on videos from LGBTQ+ creators because the type of audience we draw is often young, vulnerable, or questioning people. To come to a video you think will be affirming, and have to sit through someone telling you are wrong and sinful to do it, is unbelievably damaging.”

( Provided / Rebecca Shoptaw )

In a statement to PinkNews, a YouTube spokesperson had previously stated: “We do not have a list of LGBTQ+ related words that trigger demonetisation, and we are constantly evaluating our systems to ensure they are enforcing our policies without bias.

“We use machine learning to evaluate content against our advertiser guidelines. Sometimes our systems get it wrong, which is why we’ve encouraged creators to appeal. Successful appeals ensure that our systems keep getting better.”

More: adverts, Alliance Defending Freedom, anti lgbt, entertainment, Internet, online, video, YouTube

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