Concerns arose last week regarding YouTube’s usually-unnoticed ‘Restricted Mode’ toggle, with many creators alleging that it hides LGBT content.
Fundamentally, Restricted Mode allows individuals and organizations to hide any “potentially objectionable content” from appearing across the platform. The feature is primarily enabled at the network-level by public institutions like schools and libraries, but can also be switched on by parents or anyone wanting a cleaner browsing experience.
The feature relies on “community flagging, age-restrictions, and other signals” to mark content as potentially objectionable, but it isn’t clear exactly what signals are to blame for videos about LGBT sexuality being hidden in Restricted Mode.
On Sunday evening, YouTube released the following statement via Twitter:
We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform—they’re a key part of what YouTube is all about. The intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of our users who want a more limited experience. LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be. We regret any confusion this has caused and are looking into your concerns. We appreciate your feedback and passion for making YouTube such an inclusive, diverse, and vibrant community.
Many top creators said that YouTube wasn’t doing enough to curb the problem, and demanded more action.
@YTCreators Step 1: Agree that there is a problem. Step 2: Suspend the program. Step 3: Thank creators for discovering this problem.
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) March 20, 2017
— Jenna Marbles (@Jenna_Marbles) March 20, 2017
'restricted mode' is another classic example of youtube not explaining wtf they are doing
— pewdiepie (@pewdiepie) March 20, 2017
The issue was first noticed by Rowan Ellis, a smaller creator who uploaded a video on the topic last Thursday, after claiming that about 40 of her videos were hidden in Restricted Mode.
We’ll continue to update this story as it develops.