YouTube’s Restricted Mode Is Blocking LGBTIQ Content And People Are Not Happy

"Putting restrictions on LGBTQ+ people isn't fair, love isn't a choice."

A number of popular YouTube video producers have accused the website of filtering out LGBTIQ content via its opaque “restricted mode”.

Last week Rowan Ellis, a British YouTube vlogger with over 22,000 subscribers, uploaded a video pointing out that a number of other videos that focused on LGBTIQ issues, including her own, had been “deemed as inappropriate” by the site.

Other prominent vloggers also pointed out their videos had been hidden by YouTube’s restricted content mode, including Tyler Oakley — a user with more than 8 million subscribers.

The point of restricted content mode is to filter out “potentially inappropriate” videos, based on a user’s age, community reporting and “other signals”. The feature isn’t new, but the big impact it’s having on LGBTIQ content has only just been noticed.

The feature is even hiding Tegan and Sara music videos.

The #YouTubeIsOverParty hashtag started trending this morning in response to the apparent focus on LGBTIQ content.

In a statement, YouTube said they were “so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on [their] platform” but that “the intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience. LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discus more sensitive issues may not be.”

Judging by the experience of actual users, it does seem as though restricted content mode is filtering out a large chunk of LGBTIQ videos even if they don’t discuss “sensitive issues”.

In a further statement to The Guardian the company said videos “that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear” when restricted mode was enabled.

The algorithm behind the restricted mode appears to be pretty broken with even Taylor Swift videos apparently being hidden.

While YouTube has apologised for “any confusion” the feature has caused, it stopped short of acknowledging wrongdoing. Given the sustained pressure the company is facing from high-profile celebrities, that may soon change.