YouTube’s “Restricted Mode” is supposed to offer users a safer experience on the video platform, by using different signals — like age restrictions and videos that have been flagged by other users — to “filter out potentially inappropriate content.” It’s engineered, according to YouTube’s parent company, Google, to “screen out potentially objectionable content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see on YouTube.” Except, it seems the feature has also been removing content with LGBTQ themes for users with Restricted Mode enabled. The problem was first spotted by Gizmodo, who spoke to several content creators whose videos were being hidden, ostensibly for having titles that included terms like “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” and “transgender.”
Other specific videos included vows from a lesbian wedding, and a 2016 video from YouTuber SeaineLove coming out as transgender. (Worth noting, SeaineLove swears in this particular video, but has self-censored the curses so you can’t actually hear the words.) Music videos from lesbian sister-duo Tegan and Sara were also censored, including at least one video, “That Girl,” which features zero LGBTQ themes or content at all. Aside from, you know, being performed by two out women. “Restricted Mode is an optional feature used by a very small subset of users who want to have a more limited YouTube experience,” a YouTube spokesperson told Gizmodo. “Some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature.”
Since then, YouTube, via its @YTCreators Twitter account, tweeted a non-apology for causing “confusion,” adding that the platform is proud to support the LGBTQ community online. The company says it is currently looking into the issue.