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YouTubers claim site is punishing videos for being ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’

Patrick Kelleher October 1, 2019
YouTube denies it's punishing video for being 'gay' or 'lesbian'

Nerd City YouTube video about demonetisation (YouTube)

YouTube content creators have conducted their own private study into the streaming platform’s algorithms and found that it demonetises content with “gay” or “lesbian” in its title.

The allegations – which have been denied by YouTube – come from Sealow, CEO of research firm Ocelot AI, YouTuber Andrew who runs the YouTube Analyzed channel, and Een of the Nerd City channel.

They wanted to determine what words are demonetised automatically by YouTube, according to The Verge.

They tested more than 15,000 words to find out if they caused videos to be demonetised. They found that words, including “gay” and “lesbian” caused the videos to be deemed unsuitable for advertisers, and claim that if they change those words to alternative words, such as “happy”, the videos are not demonetised.

Videos allegedly immediately become advertiser friendly when ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ is replaced.

Andrew, who runs his own YouTube channel, conducted research into the words over the course of June and July. All three creators have now made their own YouTube videos about the findings of their research.

“This is not a matter of LGBTQ personalities being demonetised for something that everyone else would also be demonetised for, such as sex or tragedy,” the written report from the creators says.

“This is LGBTQ terminology like ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ being the sole reason a video is demonetised despite the context.”

YouTube denied that words describing the LGBT+ community cause videos to be demonetised in a statement. They said they are “constantly evaluating our systems to help ensure that they are reflecting our policies without unfair bias”.

This is LGBTQ terminology like ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ being the sole reason a video is demonetised despite the context.

They said they use machine learning on content posted to YouTube, and added that sometimes, these systems get it wrong. The spokesperson encouraged content creators to appeal if their content is demonetised for no discernible reason.

LGBT+ content creators sued YouTube in August.

The report comes just weeks after five prominent LGBT+ YouTubers sued YouTube and Google for allegedly discriminating against queer content creators.

The YouTubers claimed in their lawsuit that the website makes it difficult for them to reach a wider audience and to make a living from their work.

Furthermore, they claimed that YouTube algorithms flag LGBT+ videos as “shocking”, “inappropriate”, “offensive” and “sexually explicit”, meaning that they are then demonetised or made ineligible for paid advertising.

More: Gay, lesbian, YouTube

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