A group of prominent LGBTIQ YouTube personalities are suing the video platform and parent company Google for alleged discrimination.
The creators argue that YouTube unfairly restricts their videos because of their sexual orientation and not the videos’ content.
They allege in the lawsuit that YouTube regularly unfairly labels their videos as offensive or sexually explicit and excludes them from content recommendations. As a result, the creators face suppressed view counts, demonetisation, and decreased ad revenue.
“YouTube is engaged in discriminatory, anticompetitive, and unlawful conduct that harms a protected class of persons under California law,” the lawsuit alleges.
Vlogger couple Chrissy Chambers and Bria Kam, of the popular channel BriaAndChrissy, are two of the creators involved in the suit.
“Our LGBTQ+ content is getting demonetized, restricted, and not sent out to viewers,” Chrissy said.
“[This has] highly affected our ability to reach the community we strongly want to help.”
The couple claim their monthly advertising revenue has plunged from $3,500 to around $500 due to YouTube’s strict policies.
A YouTube spokesperson said: “All content on our site is subject to the same policies.
“Our policies have no notion of sexual orientation or gender identity and our systems do not restrict or demonetize videos based on these factors or the inclusion of terms like ‘gay’ or ‘transgender.’
“In addition, we have strong policies prohibiting hate speech, and we quickly remove content that violates our policies and terminate accounts that do so repeatedly.”
‘YouTube’s algorithm needs to change’
But creators disagree, with allegations of unfair restrictions on LGBT videos stretching back to 2017.
That year, YouTube admitted its “Restricted Mode” was unfairly blocking all-ages LGBT videos.
The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company Google on Tuesday. Lead attorney Peter Obstler told The Washington Post that YouTube controls “an estimated 95% of the public video communications” globally.
As a result, he said, the platform “wields unparalleled power” to apply “viewpoint-based content policies” impacting LGBTIQ creators.
Last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that YouTube does “not automatically demonetize LGBTQ content.”
“There’s no policies saying, ‘If you put certain words in a title that will be demonetized,’” Wojcicki told a US tech conference.
“Because a lot of our decisions are made algorithmically, we work incredibly hard to make sure when our machines learn something, [they are] fair.
“There shouldn’t be [any automatic demonetization].”
Transgender video creator Chase Ross is also among the plaintiffs. He claims to have suffered sharp drops in view counts after the video platform severely – and unfairly – restricted LGBTIQ content.
“YouTube is supposed to be a safe place for [LGBTIQ people],” Ross said.
“I don’t feel safe at all. Things need to change. The algorithm needs to change.
“We need to stand together because we’re more powerful in numbers.”
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