YouTube has supposedly altered its classifications of some LGBTQ-themed videos, following protests from users. The site had been criticised for having non-explicit videos featuring LGBTQ themes classed as restricted, which filters out “potentially inappropriate” content.
The “restricted” designation on self-published videos on YouTube and other platforms allow parents, schools and libraries to filter out content that isn’t appropriate for users under 18. Turning on the restriction makes videos inaccessible. YouTube calls it “an optional feature used by a very small subset of users”.
It’s unclear if the types of videos in question are now being categorised as restricted for the first time, or if this is a long-standing policy towards sexuality that is only now getting attention.
Making some gay themed videos invisible.
In an emailed statement, YouTube said: “Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.” Filtering out what is and isn’t appropriate can be difficult in the case of LGBT topics, which are by definition intertwined with health, politics and sexuality.
YouTube followed that statement with another: “We recognise that some videos are incorrectly labelled by our automated system and we realise it’s very important to get this right. We’re working hard to make some improvements.” The company offered no further explanation.
YouTube content creators can age-restrict their videos themselves. But that’s just one of the ways sensitive content is filtered out. YouTube says it also uses “community flagging”, which means users can flag videos for possible restrictions or removal.
But just because something is flagged, it is not automatically removed. Once a video is reported, YouTube reviews it. If no violations are found by the review team, no amount of flagging will change that and the video will remain on site.
What sorts of content are filtered out in restricted mode can vary by region, based on countries’ community standards. In general, though, it includes “sexually explicit language or excessive profanity”, and violent or disturbing content, according to YouTube’s policies.
The website’s rules also state that videos containing nudity or dramatized sexual conduct may be age restricted when the context is appropriately educational, documentary, scientific or artistic. Videos featuring individuals in minimal or revealing clothing may also be age restricted if they’re intended to be sexually provocative but don’t show explicit content.
Videos that show adults engaging in “activities that have a high risk of injury or death” may also be age restricted. But in short gay themed content is restricted generally. I should know.