YouTube users recently noticed that videos with #LGBTQ content were blocked when viewing in “restricted mode.”
“This angers me to no end. I mean no end. It’s so offensive. Where is this coming from? Who’s complaining?” Said former #Kent State student Atticus Hamlar about YouTube placing restrictions on LGBTQ videos. An LGBTQ YouTuber himself, Hamlar was astounded by this restriction. “YouTube’s been around for years and we have better settings [now]. I’ll never understand why this is happening.”
The origins of YouTube’s rainbow ban are still unknown. The company’s reasoning, however, was to protect people from adult content. YouTube’s restricted mode is optional, and while some LGBTQ content is more adult-oriented, this ban applied to many non-adult videos relating to LGBTQ material. YouTube claimed that automated systems flag the videos, not people, and have apologized for this mishap. Regardless, there are still consequences.
This ban may seem harmless since it only applies to an optional restricted setting. However, the ban implies that all LGBTQ content is inherently sexual, or otherwise adult-oriented, which furthers the harmful idea that the LGBTQ community is, by default, sexually deviant and 18+ only. Blocking LGBTQ content leaves the community’s youth who use restricted settings without the positive representation YouTube provides.
YouTube is home to LGBTQ individuals of varying races, genders and even abilities. YouTubers’ videos are often a source of income, so if their audience uses the restricted setting, it could cause a dent in their revenue. YouTube also allows a breath of fresh air, straying from the bleached white mainstream media. An online, free media source such as YouTube makes LGBTQ representation widely accessible, as accurate closed captions slowly make their way to popular videos. Restricting LGBTQ content constricts the possibility of proper representation and threatens the income of diverse YouTubers.
In modern society, media consumption is a main part of daily life. Minors have access to online media sources and their security should always be prioritized. However, marginalized youth, such as those who are LGBTQ, need positive, thorough representation in media. The restrictions on YouTube’s LGBTQ content furthers harmful stigmas, stifles YouTubers’ revenue and dampers on proper representation of the community.