Celebri­ties ques­tion YouTube’s LGBTQ fil­ter

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - NATIONAL - DAVID FRIEND

TORONTO — A cho­rus of Cana­dian LGBTQ YouTu­bers, in­clud­ing pop duo Te­gan and Sara, is call­ing for the video ser­vice to stop fil­ter­ing out gay and trans-themed videos for some users.

The Cal­gary-raised sis­ters have taken to social me­dia to ques­tion why YouTube’s “re­stricted” set­ting ap­pears to block a wide va­ri­ety of LGBTQ-friendly con­tent for no clear rea­son.

“If you put YouTube on re­stricted mode a bunch of our mu­sic videos dis­ap­pear. I checked my­self. LGBTQ peo­ple shouldn’t be re­stricted. SAD!” Te­gan and Sara tweeted. Among the miss­ing clips were mu­sic videos from their lat­est al­bum, in­clud­ing for That Girl and U-turn.

They were joined by Hal­i­fax singer Ria Mae, who said her video for Gold, which fea­tures the singer in a les­bian re­la­tion­ship, was also be­ing fil­tered out.

“Young gay kids need to see them­selves rep­re­sented and they need to know it’s nor­mal, it’s OK and it’s not X-rated,” Mae posted in a video on her In­sta­gram ac­count.

“It sends a bad mes­sage to young gay kids and young trans kids that their lives are not nor­mal or ac­cept­able.”

At is­sue is YouTube’s “re­stricted” des­ig­na­tion, which lets par­ents, schools and li­braries fil­ter out con­tent that isn’t deemed ap­pro­pri­ate for users un­der 18. YouTube calls it “an op­tional fea­ture used by a very small sub­set of users.”

It’s un­clear whether the types of videos in ques­tion are now be­ing cat­e­go­rized as “re­stricted” for the first time, or whether the fil­ter­ing is only now get­ting at­ten­tion.

In an emailed state­ment on Mon­day, YouTube said “some videos that cover sub­jects like health, pol­i­tics and sex­u­al­ity may not ap­pear for users and in­sti­tu­tions that choose to use this fea­ture.”

YouTube ac­knowl­edged that “some videos are in­cor­rectly la­belled by our au­to­mated sys­tem and we re­al­ize it’s very im­por­tant to get this right.”

“We’re work­ing hard to make some im­prove­ments,” the com­pany said Mon­day af­ter­noon with­out of­fer­ing fur­ther de­tails.

The com­plaints spawned the hash tag# You Tube Is Over Party, which was a Twit­ter trend­ing topic world­wide over the week­end.

Toronto-based trans­gen­der YouTu­ber Stef San­jati had 48 of her videos blocked as of Mon­day, in­clud­ing clips dis­cussing trans­gen­der stu­dent bath­rooms and makeup tips.

Fel­low gay video maker Michael Rizzi was also af­fected, with 176 of his 236 videos dis­ap­pear­ing in “re­stricted” mode.

SCOTT GRIES/AP FILES

Pop stars Sara, left, and Te­gan Quin have joined a grow­ing num­ber of Cana­dian LGBTQ celebri­ties voic­ing con­cern about YouTube’s “re­stricted” des­ig­na­tion which can make videos avail­able to some users.

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