A group of LGBTQ creators has filed a federal lawsuit against YouTube and its parent company Google. They allege that YouTube unfairly censors LGBTQ content.
Five sets of YouTubers have joined forces for the suit, including trans YouTuber Chase Ross (uppercaseCHASE1), Lindsay Amer of Queer Kid Stuff, Brett Somers of WattsTheStanford, Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers (BriaAndChrissy), and GNews! creators Celso Dulay and Chris Knight. They’re seeking class-action status.
The creators claim that YouTube flags videos as sexually explicit solely for having tags like “lesbian” or “gay” or “bisexual.” Flagged videos are deemed inappropriate for advertisers and therefore demonetized.
“The policy that YouTube has is meant to be neutral. They say they’re not going to flag us because we’re an LGBT show,” Celso Dulay told BuzzFeed News. “But it seems to be flagging us just because we’re LGBT.”
The creators also allege that YouTube suppresses their view counts by hiding their videos and changing thumbnails.
“They are removing our thumbnails, they are not sending our videos out to our subscribers, they are removing subscribers. We are age-gated. We are age-restricted,” Bria Kam said. “They just keep coming up with new ways.”
Meanwhile, the platform allegedly fails to enforce its own content policies against anti-LGBTQ harassment. Videos and comments that mock specific LGBTQ YouTubers, for example, are allowed to stay online.
The lawsuit follows years of similar complaints that YouTube unfairly censors LGBTQ content. A spokesperson from the company provided a statement in response to the suit to several outlets:
“We’re proud that so many LGBTQ creators have chosen YouTube as a place to share their stories and build community. All content on our site is subject to the same policies. 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.’ In addition, we have strong policies prohibiting hate speech, and we quickly remove content that violates our policies and terminate accounts that do so repeatedly.”