YouTube's Restricted Mode Is Hiding LGBT Videos, Which Is Not Cool

LGBT Youtubers have taken to twitter to criticise the platform under the #YouTubeIsOverParty hashtag

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It seems YouTube has traversed into some rocky waters with some of its high-profile LGBT Vloggers, after they raised the fact that some of their content is being hidden through the "Restricted Mode" feature.

The 'Restricted Mode' feature is an opt in option from the video site, which, according to the support page, will 'help screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don't want others in your family to see.'

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You might assume, then, that it aims to filter out violent content, or graphic sexual content of the like that you might want to keep away from young eyes.

Some high profile vloggers, however, have noticed that the filter has been screening some of their LGBT content. British YouTuber Rowan Ellis, who has nearly 22,500 subscribers, posted a video about the issue.

She said that 40 of her own videos are being blocked by the Restricted Mode, and that the censoring of innocuous LGBT content implies that there's something inherently offensive about being LGBT.

The hashtags #YouTubeIsOverParty and #YouTubeRestricted began trending on Twitter over the weekend, after several users flagged that their videos referencing same-sex relationships were being made invisible in Restricted Mode.

According to Google, which owns YouTube, the 'offensive content' blocked by the Restricted Mode is identified by 'community flagging, age restrictions, and other signals.'

It is not a new feature, but Ellis said YouTubers were 'just starting to realise the extent' of its impact: 'it is filtering out a hell of a lot of LGBT content.'

Tyler Oakley, an American YouTube personality with 8 million subscribers , said the platform blocked a video of people that inspire him.

. https://t.co/MrGBmPum1a— Tyler Oakley (@tyleroakley) 19 March 2017
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Another Youtuber, NeonFiona, said videos in which she referenced having a girlfriend or her bisexuality had been hidden, but not those that did not specify her partner's gender.

? pic.twitter.com/KnhayE4h1y— fiona ✨ (@neonfiona) 16 March 2017

Trans YouTuber Seaine Love also tweeted about her videos being hidden last night. Seaine told Gizmodo that she felt her video was "pretty G rated," and that she simply wanted other LGBT youth to "be able to watch my videos and go 'Hey, I feel the same way! That's how I am too! Wow, that inspires me to be myself!'"

Youtube eventually responded to the concerns with a tweet on Sunday night saying that "The intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience. LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be. We regret any confusion this has caused and are looking into your concerns."

With many pop music videos also being blocked under the feature, from artists such as Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus, whilst some YouTubers' LGBT videos stay visible, it seems there may be a wider flaw of the algorithm used to identify potentially objectionable content.

But according to Rowan Ellis, the isolation of LGBT videos is particularly worrying.

"I think it's really important to look at why LGBT content has been deemed as inappropriate" she told Gizmodo.

"This is something which goes far beyond a mistake that YouTube might have made that they're going to draw attention to and fix later."

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