On Friday, it started to trickle out that YouTube’s new content filter “Restricted Mode” was possibly limiting content from LGBTQ+ users that wasn’t actually mature. Over the weekend, as more people became aware of this discrepancy, that steady drip became a deluge when users posted screenshots of exactly what content was being scrubbed in “Restricted Mode.”
When it's working according to its alleged purpose, “Restricted Mode” is supposed to “use community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content,” and is a feature that must be manually turned on.
But LGBTQ+ YouTube elucidated the difference between aim and actuality by posting such innocuous videos as “GAY flag and me petting my cat to see if youtube blocks this” and then turning on “Restricted Mode” to see what happened. In the case of that clip, the video was scrubbed when “Restricted Mode” was activated.
Soon enough, the issue became the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty and not long after, the Google-owned entity issued a response to the criticisms of its “Restricted Mode.”
This is not the first time YouTube has gotten in trouble for excluding LGBTQ-related content. In 2012, the site rejected a 16-second promo video by Perfume Genius that featured the indie artist embracing gay porn star Arpad Miklos.
In that particular case, YouTube explained, “The ad has been disapproved because it violates our Adult Image/Video Content policy.” However, similar to the current issue with “Restricted Mode,” their identification of the objectionable content itself was frustratingly vague.