Hi Internet People,
I was debating about how to talk about the issue of YouTube’s obviously flawed restricted mode and decided that a blog post would be an easier way for me to compose my thoughts than a Twitter thread. Now if you weren’t aware, YouTube released a new “family friendly” or restricted mode for their users. They have had a restricted mode for some time, but in this new version there was a massive issue with LGBTQIA+ and queer focused content. What is disheartening is that videos with certain tags connected to the community do not appear within restricted mode, including those that focus on acceptance and understanding. Apparently even the celebratory video YouTube created for the passing of Marriage Equality legislation does not appear within restricted mode.
Many people, myself included, are outraged and upset by this new restricted mode and have voiced our concerns on Twitter. Some of this has been met by people stating that you don’t have to turn restricted mode on, but that isn’t what we are arguing. The fact that restricted mode is blocking these videos creates the idea that LGBTQIA+ content is something that should censored. I am sure there are parents who feel safer allowing their children to use YouTube with restricted mode on, but I personally don’t understand why blocking videos that promote understanding and education in connection to the LGBTQIA+ community would fall within something they would be concerned about. I don’t have children, but I do remember that when I was growing up my parents limited my time online, though they did allow me to read whatever I wanted from the library. If I had questions about something I would go to my parents to ask them about it and they would create a dialogue with me about the topic. This restriction of content limits the ability to even open a dialogue within families and furthers the stigma that exists toward the LGBTQIA+ community.
I do have an additional concern though as I have seen people announcing that they are removing their content from YouTube or will no longer be posting videos on the site. I understand wanting to boycott, but I worry that this will negatively impact those in the LGBTQIA+ community who have no other resource, but YouTube to try and find a way to understand themselves and their broader community. If channels that once provided what felt to them like a safe space suddenly disappear where does that leave them? Will they not feel further ostracized and alone? I also know that there are people who make a living through YouTube and in some cases they cannot just delete their channels without violating contracts. Though my videos are just something to do for fun I admittedly will keep doing them, even though I am not okay with what is currently happening on YouTube, because I still feel like it is the only way that some of my discussions of representation and diverse content will be seen by a larger audience.
While YouTube has stated that they stand with the community, I believe that the only thing that can correct this situation is for the company to sit down and examine the key terms being isolated by their new restricted mode and to correct their error. The message they are sending through the current restrictions is something that needs to be corrected.
Talk to ya tomorrow,