YouTube is no stranger to controversy; their recent introduction of a new feature to their video streaming website has certainly made waves. Their new “restricted mode” is geared specifically toward parents wishing to filter out inappropriate content, but who still want to allow their children to enjoy the videos that the website offers. While the feature is still relatively new, it’s obvious that there are still many kinks that YouTube must work out.
The largest issue concerning the restricted mode is its insensitivity to the LGBTQ+ community. The new feature appears to target and block many LGBTQ+ related videos, regardless of how innocent they may be. In fact, oftentimes the videos being blocked have no reason for being deemed inappropriate—except for the fact that the people in the videos identify as LGBTQ+. Clearly, this is sexual discrimination and it is not appropriate.
YouTube—which is owned by Google—is not actually the entity in charge of deeming what videos are inappropriate; rather, the feature forms its own judgment through what content users flag.
Considering the abundance of homophobia still present worldwide, it’s not especially surprising that there is a considerable amount of people who would want to flag content created by members of the LGBTQ+ community. This, however, is evidence that YouTube does need to take initiative to ensure that new features transition seamlessly, instead of fully relying on a poorly formulated code.
Since YouTube has put its faith wholeheartedly in their viewers, they are now facing the repercussions of extreme backlash from the LGBTQ+ community and heterosexual allies. Many popular YouTube content creators, such as Tyler Oakley, Chelsea Kei and Gigi Gorgeous have spoken out against this issue, urging the company to adjust the feature immediately. While the feature may have been created with good intentions, it does not seem to be doing its job at all.
Even if parents want to shield their children forever from the oh-so-cruel reality that not everyone in the world is like them, YouTube already has a policy that doesn’t allow children to use the website. Once a user turns 13, YouTube welcomes young viewers to use their website with an underage account, which comes with its own restrictions that cannot be disabled. Restricted mode, however, can easily be disabled by anyone using the website.
The restrictions for underage accounts are taken very seriously by YouTube, which makes the new feature extremely redundant—unless, of course, parents are going against YouTube’s policy and allowing their young children to use the video platform. By the age of 13, viewers will have hopefully experienced enough of the real world to realize that the LGBTQ+ community is a reality and can formulate their own opinions of their peers. Even if their opinion is negative or heavily influenced by their parents, they are aware of the concept and should make their own decisions regarding it.
While restricted mode does manage to block its fair share of inappropriate content for young viewers, inappropriate content hidden by the restricted mode (particularly music videos) is still out there to be found through loopholes. For example, if there were multiple videos released by other YouTube accounts, they could get around the mode. Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” is a perfect example. As such, if parents cannot trust their children to use YouTube, perhaps they should just block the website all together, or monitor their viewing themselves.
Despite the recent progress made concerning acceptance of sexual orientation, there remains a large population of individuals who criticize and fear members of the LGBTQ+ community. Regardless, children are being exposed to the LGBTQ+ individuals through personal experiences and other media platforms. Parents cannot prevent this exposure, even if they do use the new restricted mode.
The world is slowly progressing, and it’s time that companies like YouTube start pushing for equality and proper representation. Thankfully, YouTube is already answering the cries and protests of their viewing community, officially stating that they are currently working to fix the problems with the faulty restricted mode.