Sep 24, 2020
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LGBTQ Creators Sue YouTube For Alleged Discrimination

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Complaints from LGBTQ creators against YouTube were piling up for years. (Photo by Olly Curtis) FUTURE PUBLISHING VIA GETTY IMAGES Topline: A collection of LGBTQ YouTubers have alleged in a federal lawsuit that YouTube and its parent company Google discriminate against LGBTQ creators by unfairly restricting their ability to make money from advertising and purposefully making it more challenging for their videos to reach a much broader audience

 

Five sets of YouTubers—GNews! producers Celso Dulay and Chris Knight Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers Brett Somers of WattsTheStanford transgender YouTuber Chase Ross and Queer Kid Stuff creator Lindsay Amer—are accusing the platform of: Using algorithms that unfairly demonetize videos about LGBT issues by flagging them as shocking inappropriate offensive and sexually explicit and therefore not appropriate for advertisers

 

Blocking LGBTQ creators from purchasing ads on other videos. Allowing homophobic reaction videos intended to mock and bully specific YouTubers to remain online and make money while demonetizing videos uploaded by people who were harassed. Letting anti-LGBTQ ads run before their own videos
Recommending anti-LGBTQ videos in the Up Next section after their video is played while excluding those from LGBTQ creators

 

YouTube didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from Forbes. The Details: Celso Dulay and Chris Knight a gay couple who produce GNews! say in the lawsuit that YouTube has hampered their efforts to get new subscribers which causes them to earn less advertising revenue. In the lawsuit they say YouTube in 2017 prohibited them from buying ads to promote their LGBTQ holiday video since it was labeled as shocking content

 

They say a Google employee told them the video was flagged since it discussed being gay. Transgender YouTuber Chase Ross also claims in the lawsuit that innocuous videos that merely mention or tag the words gay lesbian bisexual or transgender get demonetized or put under the Restricted Mode filter a setting that when turned on allows YouTube to block inappropriate videos

 

Ross told Forbes a video he posted about the lawsuit Wednesday was demonetized immediately (it was remonetized a few hours later). PROMOTED Civic Nation BRANDVOICE | Paid Program
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No Putting A Person Of Color On Your Panel Doesn t Accomplish Diversity The lawsuit is set ensuring we re not censored as a community Ross says

 

I found YouTube at 15 and it saved my life. I hear from people daily that they want to make a channel but they re afraid of having their content restricted and it breaks my heart. Lindsay Amer who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns claims that YouTube allowed homophobic harassment in the comments section in their videos after neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer posted about them

 

Amer s channel Queer Kids Stuff features educational videos about LGBTQ issues for children. It got to the point Amer says where they had to disable comments altogether in order to block more than 10 different spellings of the word pedophile. Disabling comments hurt them financially because engagement in the comments section is a metric YouTube uses to measure a video s popularity Amer says

 

Response: Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers a couple who are also part of the lawsuit say the response to the lawsuit has been overwhelmingly positive because the complaints against YouTube were ongoing. When they do see a negative comment it s usually someone claiming that YouTube s algorithms hurt everyone not just LGBTQ creators

 

Yes other folks and groups are being discriminated against but we re targeting this part of the community because we re part of it Chambers tells Forbes. Key Background: YouTube has been dogged by complaints about how it treats LGBTQ creators for years but the difficulty came to a head in June after the company s inconsistent and confusing response to Vox journalist Carlos Maza s public callout of homophobic harassment by right-wing YouTuber Steven Crowder

 

Ultimately YouTube demonetized Crowder s channel rather than removing it entirely. The debacle brought about a collection of Google employees trying to get their own company float banned from San Francisco s Pride celebration using the hashtag #NoPrideInYT

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