2018 has led Youtube’s hidden censorship policies to be less ambiguous, thanks to systems uncovered by researchers and leaks. Now, the big question among Youtubers and their audience is how their content will be impacted among these controversies.
Prior to these discoveries, many YouTubers had been frustrated with videos getting demonetized, editing videos over and over again so they could pass a system which supported them across more platforms of the site. Because of this, content schedules were shuffled or entirely moved to crowdfunding entities like Patreon. Weirdly enough, the systems in place seem to be more concerned with impressionable content than copyright (which was a hardcore issue in the early 2010’s for the video site).
“Students have had issues with sampling much more so on Soundcloud than Youtube, Soundcloud’s algorithm has even flagged acapella projects,” said Woodside High School Audio Production teacher Mr. Kauffman.
Youtube’s definition of impressionable content is also leading to high distaste. For instance, when far-right personality Lauren Southern was banned from subscription service Patreon, the company’s CEO went on the record and explained why. Not only has Youtube lacked these explanations, but has angered left, right, and centrist sides of the political spectrum because of what they have targeted. Members of such communities have called out these practices.
“I remember when Youtube first started censoring LGBTQ content a while ago (which they count as NSFW), which is horrible because there’s nothing bad about someone being different, especially concerning something they can’t control,” said Kiannah L, an LGBTQ identified Bakersfield High School student.
Not all of Youtube is under fire though, as there are plenty of channels that have found ways to avoid such restrictions. Most of these channels deal with content that is outside of the news and debate space and are instead about lifestyle aspects. Nevertheless, even these channels aren’t completely free from what Youtube has done, and there is always some extra precaution that needs to be taken.
“Youtube has a selection of copyright-protected music, and that’s what I’ll sometimes use to avoid strikes.” said senior Jason Krakeur, who runs a Youtube vlog channel as a hobby.
Unfortunately, these problems are so widespread that backlash to the company has been more than verbal. One of the motives for the recent Youtube shooting was the culprit being annoyed by her apparent demonetizations that had been placed because her content was noted as sensitive.
“The Youtube issue has been widespread, but I didn’t think it would come to a conclusion like that.” said senior Dylan Fuhs.
LGBTQ videos have been added to the “Restricted List” on YouTube for no apparent reason.
Last year an issue arose concerning LGBTQ content on YouTube’s Restricted List. The video site offers an optional mode entitled “Restricted Mode” which is an setting that sets a filter on what videos the viewer has access to, which, according to YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, “was originally designed as an optional feature for public institutions like libraries and schools to prevent the viewing of mature content on YouTube.” On June 19 2017 Wojcicki released a statement expressing the company’s apology in allowing the inclusion of appropriate LGBTQ videos in this mode and not noticing it sooner. Wojcicki also stated they were attempting to correct the issue. While they claimed they did do their best in correcting their mistakes, even YouTube’s said that Restricted Mode “still won’t work perfectly but over time our systems will get better.” Despite the effort to right the situation and the company stating that they know that LGBT videos are beneficial to the youth, hundreds of thousands of the over 12 million that are part of the “restricted section” list are LGBTQ as of June 2017.
“I think it’s bad they they are letting people restrict YouTube videos,” said Danny Whiting. “Of course, the restricted list is important for reasons because they don’t want illegal porn on the internet and on our site, which makes sense, or it’s parents thinking “oh I don’t want my kid to watch pirated war videos’ or whatever, so they’ll put on restricted mode for their kids which makes sense. But there are a lot of LGBT teens that are in not safe situations and if they are using the internet to try to figure themselves out and understand themselves and they are trying to watch some vlogger talk about their coming out experience and it’s restricted that’s terrible. All throughout history LGBT people have been painted as perverted and gross and this just enforces this idea, especially in homophobes, that with LGBT people it’s all sexual, and it’s all disgusting, and it’s it shouldn’t be allowed, and children can’t be seeing that, and it’s nasty. That’s just terrible. This happens a lot of the time.”
For many activists this event is just one of numerous hateful actions and the effect of such actions are bigger than one would think.
“There’s a huge effect on the community, an effect from the outside world [if you will],” said Whiting where straight people that are getting this idea that ‘our children can’t see this. This is gonna make them gay.’ It’s effecting in that way. Of course people who are fully out they know, “hey my sexuality isn’t a terrible thing” but kids who are questioning and straight families who are having their ideas reinforced and kids that are trying to come out who don’t have the resources that they need.
YouTube saw that this mistake was upsetting people. This caused the CEO to release a statement claiming YouTube was trying to fix the problem. Despite the effort to correct the issue hundreds of thousands of the over 12 million videos that are part of the “restricted section” list are LGBTQ focused as of June 2017.
“It creates a conemption or an idea that LGBTQ is restricted and frowned upon,” Said Rachelle Irys Taveau. “That it’s something bad that can be associated with violence, that can be associated with hate, that can be associated with overall sexual and perverted acts. Creating this associations repeats a history long trend of trying to crimminalize the LGBTQ community.
Despite the efforts made to right the situation, the effects caused by it is amazing. The “Restricted list” is still being corrected. While the problems still exist, circumstances are improving.
“There several effects, especially in a school website,” said Irys Taveau. “There a lot of children that grow up in a really safe environment, they can question their sexuality and research their sexuality at school. So having this restriction at school it takes away the ability that they have to learn more about themselves. To learn more about other people who are like them and feel more included and accepted.