Earlier this week it was discovered that YouTube has been restricting LGBT+ content across their platform for anyone who enables the ‘Restricted Mode’ in their settings.
When I first heard this was happening, I wasn’t sure what to believe. I saw one or two YouTubers start making videos about the topic and at first, it made me really concerned. However, I didn’t look into it too much.
It wasn't until just one of my subscribers told me that the videos were not showing up for him. Straight away, I took it upon myself to research what was happening and discovered that around 70-80% of videos on my channel were not available to people with the filter on.
YouTube says that the filter is designed to help make viewing “Family Friendly” which, I will admit, most of my content ISN’T. The issue I have is the premise that LGBT+ isn’t family friendly. Hearing and realising that is like… words can’t describe. I’ve been lucky to grow up in a family where LGBT+ is very open and spoken about and these days, as soon as you can walk and talk in my family, you know what LGBT is. It hasn't always been like this for me, especially when I was a child. So seeing both sides of how it works, I know which one I prefer.
What shocked me was the fact that videos where I use profanity, and talk about issues that most would find shocking, were still available to watch on my channel in restricted mode. The videos that were hidden from my channel with this filter on, all had one thing in common. They were all LGBT+ related videos.
I sat for a good 4 hours, making sure what I was seeing was correct. I have no idea how long this has been happening.
YouTube caters for “everyone”. However, YouTube cannot cater for those who are not able to cater for themselves. My issue here, is that, I make these videos for people who are going through struggles quite like what I went through when I was their age. I make these videos for EVERYONE, but especially for people under the age of 18 who I know these videos will help. I have my coming out story, my gay advice videos, how I deal with hate and bullying in school, in life. But all of these videos are blocked simply because they have LGBT+ themes. Most people argue that “You can just disable the filter if you want” - wrong. This is exactly why I have an issue with this. The restricted mode gives parents the power to restrict on behalf of their child.
Imagine a young boy, in an outback town. Who’s never encountered a gay person, who doesn't know what he is feeling, who has never seen or heard of anything LGBT. Imagine him jumping on YouTube to find out if there are more people who know about what he is feeling. When I was in high school, YouTube was just that for me. I looked up LGBT influencers, I saw their stories, it comforted me. I make these videos in the hope that I can help those little boys who have no idea what is happening in their world.
However, YouTube’s restricted mode, enables parents to RESTRICT their children from viewing my content. The content I make, for their child. They think they are PROTECTING their children, all they are protecting them from is help. Videos like the ones I make can help people, and DO help people. I have numerous people message me every week, sometimes every day saying that my videos helped them through, they felt so much better knowing there was someone out there who they could relate to. For that little boy in that outback country town, he won't ever get to see that.. and that really scares me.
I understand that if you want to turn on the filter and filter out the LGBT content, go ahead!
But when young children don’t have the option to do this, it’s worrying.