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LGBTQ+ Creators Sue YouTube Over Allegations of Discrimination

YouTube and its parent company Google are accused of demonetization and audience restriction.

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A group of LGBTQ+ content creators have filed a class action lawsuit against YouTube and their parent company Google over allegations of discrimination. The creators say that YouTube has repeatedly demonetized their videos, limited their ad buys, and restricted their viewers over queer content, blaming a biased algorithm that tends to flag keywords like “gay”, “lesbian”, “bisexual”, and “transgender”.

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The lawsuit alleges that YouTube deploys “unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBT Plaintiffs and the greater LGBT Community.”

The creators involved in the lawsuit include GNews!, Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers (BriaAndChrissy), Chase Ross (uppercaseCHASE1), Lindsay Amer (Queer Kid Stuff) and Amp Somers (Watts The Safeword). Together, as the Rainbow Coalition, they made a video about why they are suing and the treatment they’ve received from YouTube:

The creators allege that YouTube frequently categorizes their videos as sexually explicit or adult content, simply because they are LGBTQ+. Chase Ross (uppercaseCHASE1) says in the video, “They flagged our Pride. They did not allow us to buy ads, they restricted us, they demonetized us, and they did not stand up for us.”

Lindsay Amer (Queer Kid Stuff) said she’s suing because, “From day one as an LGBTQ+ creator on YouTube, I faced discrimination on a platform that touts its support of my community. For years, it’s effected my mental health and my livelihood. I’ve suffered, and I’ve watched firsthand as my community of creators has suffered.”

YouTube spokesman Alex Joseph issued a statement saying, “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’.”

YouTube’s content policies have often been accused of being intentionally opaque and arbitrarily enforced, with more popular and lucrative creators having more leeway over marginalized channels. YouTube was recently the subject of a Washington Post exposé, where moderators admitted that high earning performers and channels get preferential treatment and more leniency when it comes to breaking the code of conduct.

Creators have been complaining about this for years, with nothing but lip service from the streaming giant in response. Even worse, these creators have been subjected to anti-gay ads playing before their videos.

YouTube came under fire earlier this summer after Vox host Carlos Maza called out the company for refusing to do anything about video “personality” Steven Crowder’s abusive and bullying behavior. Crowder repeatedly posted videos harassing Maza for his race and sexuality, while encouraging his followers to bully and doxx Maza.

YouTube refused to take any action against Crowder, despite the clear violations of their hate speech policy. It wasn’t until public outcry reached a fever pitch on social media that YouTube finally relented and demonetized (but did not remove) Crowder’s videos. At the time, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized for the incident, saying “I know the decision we made was very hurtful to the LGBT community and that was not our intention at all.”

(via Washington Post, image: YouTube)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.

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