YouTube said Monday that some videos from LGBTQ creators had been “incorrectly labeled” as being objectionable content — resulting in those videos being blocked for users accessing the service using the “Restricted Mode” feature.
The Google-owned video service said in a Twitter post on Monday, “Sorry for all the confusion with Restricted Mode. Some videos have been incorrectly labeled and that’s not right. We’re on it! More to come.” There was no immediate word on how the LGBTQ videos in question were originally mislabeled.
The issue came to light last week after several LGBTQ creators noticed that their videos were not showing up in Restricted Mode, despite there being nothing evidently out of bounds in their videos except that they discuss issues of being gay, transgender, or bisexual. The videos unavailable in YouTube’s Restricted Mode include one of a lesbian couple reading each other their wedding vows, Gizmodo reported.
YouTube describes Restricted Mode, which it has offered since 2010, as a feature to help users “screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see on YouTube.” The site says it uses community flagging, age restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially inappropriate content.
[UPDATE, 3/21: Late Monday, YouTube VP of product management Johanna Wright wrote in a blog post, “Our system sometimes make mistakes in understanding context and nuances when it assesses which videos to make available in Restricted Mode.” She said the following LGBTQ videos were examples of where YouTube got it wrong: Ash Hardell’s “Her Vows,” Calum McSwiggan’s “Coming Out To Grandma,” Jono and Ben’s “Woman interrupted during BBC interview,” and Tegan and Sara’s “BWU [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO].” She added that YouTube manually reviewed videos based on user feedback and made sure they’re now available in Restricted Mode where appropriate, and added that “we’ll also be using this input to better train our systems.”]
On Sunday, YouTube issued a statement saying it was investigating why certain LGBTQ videos were being blocked in Restricted Mode. “We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform — they’re a key part of what YouTube is all about,” YouTube said in a tweet. “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 discuss more sensitive issues may not be.”
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki weighed in on the issue on Sunday, quoting the earlier statement and adding, “I wanted to reemphasize this message to our community. The LGBT community means a lot to YouTube and I’m pushing our teams to investigate.”