YouTube has caved in to calls for content restrictions and censorship on its platform, implementing an optional new feature called “restricted mode”.
It’s designed to censor indecent material — the kind that advertisers do not wish to be associated with. According to Google, the optional feature “uses community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content.”
It’s a feature that’s been around for at least a year, but YouTube producers haven’t been feeling the hurt until now. Since YouTube ramped up the mode’s restrictions, several LGBT bloggers discovered that their content was blocked, and accused the platform of hiding their videos.
LGBT YouTuber Matthew Lush, who curates a gay variety channel called GayGod, was among the first to post a video complaining about having his channel hit by restricted mode.
He is one of several high-profile LGBT YouTubers affected by the restrictions, along with SeaineLove, NeonFiona and Rowan Ellis. Celebrities like Ariana Grande have also been impacted for their videos on gay acceptance.
LGBT vloggers aren’t the only ones affected by restricted mode. Gaming YouTubers, including PewDiePie, TotalBiscuit, Penguinz0 and Dunkey have all had their channels restricted.
Even family-friendly channels like the Game Grumps and Rooster Teeth are almost entirely unavailable with the mode enabled. Penguinz0 had a few words to say on the matter:
Likewise, commentators and pundits like Sargon of Akkad, Paul Joseph Watson, Thunderf00t, Jaclyn Glenn, Philip DeFranco, and H3h3Productions will not show up in the search results.
Most curious of all is the restricted mode’s impact on feminist vloggers like Laci Green and Feminist Frequency, who mainly develop educational content—replete with trigger warnings for sensitive viewers. Say what you will about their points of view, but it’s perplexing why any of their videos would be marked as restricted.
Despite complaints from the LGBT community, it’s clear that restricted mode isn’t specifically targeting queer content. It’s difficult to say whether the restrictions are the fault of Google’s algorithms or whether they are simply cracking down on anything remotely offensive to appease advertisers.
Whatever the case, it’s a mistake—and content creators from across the political spectrum have taken to social media to criticize the platform in the #YouTubeIsOverParty hashtag. For the social justice warriors who demanded more censorship, welcome to the new YouTube.