By Zachary Landau | Asst. A&E Editor
A while ago (no specific or general date can be found), YouTube launched YouTube Restricted Mode, an extra method of protection for browsing the video-sharing website. In a support video designed to explain what the feature is and how to use it, the company explained that “You can think of Restricted Mode like a parental control setting for YouTube.”
“It helps filter out potentially objectionable videos and comments that you or your family might not want to see,” the video continues.
The feature uses community policing features, like notices of inappropriate content and age restrictions, and “other signals” to hide content.
Last week, however, some began noticing that videos containing LGBT content were being hidden by this feature.
The actual content in videos hidden by Restricted Mode ranges wildly from legitimately explicit content — such as the YouTube channel Sexplantations, a channel that focuses on sex education including gay sex and relationships — to vows between gay couples.
LGBT YouTubers decried this feature for keeping content away from people who need it most, such as LGBT youth who need a sense of community, as well as implying that any form of queer content is inappropriate for children.
Speaking to Gizmodo, YouTuber neonfiona, who has made content about her bisexuality, condemned the restrictions, saying, “Kids who want to know about different orientations and definitions and about the history of LGBT people, etc., they can’t access that when their videos are being restricted.”
As well as the large amount of LGBT content being screened, topics about other sensitive subjects, like bullying, domestic abuse and racism, are also being hidden.
In a statement to Gizmodo, a YouTube representative stated that the feature is fully optional. However, as Gizmodo reports, the support page for Restricted Mode states that it can be implemented on a system-wide level, meaning public computers may have restriction mode on, and the user cannot shut it off.
The YouTube Creator Blog uploaded a statement on March 20 acknowledging that “[Restricted Mode] isn’t working the way it should. We’re sorry and we’re going to fix it.
In a video uploaded to her channel, YouTuber Rowan Ellis condemned the feature for demonizing the LGBT community.
“The sexualization of queer and trans people is still rampant,” Ellis states. “This kind of insidious poison which makes [the LGBT community] seem inappropriate is still around, still in effect.”
Ellis also emphasizes the double standard being held against LGBT individuals using YouTube.
“People talk about [the restrictions] being about protecting children,” Ellis said in the same video. “For me, it’s this completely nonsensical idea that has no basis in reality around protecting specifically straight and cis children, or children from straight and cis families.”
“Trans youth, queer youth are dying. They are killing themselves, they are being killed because this attitude is being allowed to be perpetuated, and it cannot go any longer.”