Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, has outlined changes the company will be making, following the backlash it received to its ‘Restricted Mode’ system. Restricted Mode is a version of the site which omits content that the website’s algorithms have deemed offensive. It is meant to serve as a firewall to protect people (partiuclarly young people) from troubling content.
However, this year it emerged that Restricted Mode was not only restricting videos of violence and other forms of troubling content – but also wide swathes of (inoffensive) LGBTQ+ content. As an example of the mistakes made, this was one of the harmless videos caught up in the Restricted Mode dragnet:
YouTube say they’ve made changes
In a blog post, Wojcicki said that “June is a very important time for us here at YouTube. Since our earliest years, YouTube has come together to celebrate Pride and honor the contributions that LGBTQ creators and fans have made to our platform.” She went on to state that “we realize that our commitment to give all LGBTQ creators a voice was unfortunately impacted by our Restricted Mode feature.”
Here is what’s new
Susan goes on to say “we’ve updated our policies to explicitly allow these videos in Restricted Mode — it still won’t work perfectly but over time our systems will get better. We apologise for these issues and want to reaffirm our commitment that YouTube is a place where all voices can be heard.”
Here are the changes they’ve made:
- YouTube teams worked with dozens of volunteer LGBTQ employees and select LGBTQ creators to get feedback on our policies and we incorporated that feedback into our processes moving forward.
- To date, over 12 million additional videos of all types—including hundreds of thousands featuring LGBTQ content—are now available in Restricted Mode.
- They have published and broadened Restricted Mode guidelines to ensure that non-graphic, personal accounts of difficult events are available. For example, personal accounts of individuals who suffered discrimination or were impacted by violence for being part of a protected group will now be included in Restricted Mode, provided they don’t contain graphic language or content.
- They invite creators and users to submit instances where they think they got it wrong. YouTube states that they review every video submitted, and in those instances where we make changes to include videos in Restricted Mode, those lessons make our systems better.
To read more about these changes and to find out about other ways in which YouTube is looking to support the LGBTQ+ community, you can check out the full blog post by clicking here.