YouTube rules that homophobic harassment does not violate its policies

5 June 2019, 14:42 | Updated: 5 June 2019, 14:48

YouTube. Picture: Getty: Florian Gaertner // Instagram: @louderwithcrowder

By Rachel Finn

YouTube is facing a huge backlash online after saying homophobic comments made by YouTuber Crowder did not violate any of its policies.

YouTube has responded to an ongoing feud between video producer and writer Carlos Maza and conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder by claiming that homophobic harassment on its platform does not violate its policies.

Maza works for Vox Media hosting a video series about media, politics and technology called ‘Strikethrough’, which has regularly been the subject of jokes on Crowder’s YouTube show ‘Louder With Crowder’. The YouTuber, who has 3.84 million followers, has previously used a range of homophobic and racist slurs to refer to Maza, which Maza has called out on Twitter and reported to YouTube for harassment.

Now, after waiting several days for a reply, YouTube has come back with a reply to the harassment claim, saying that the range of insults to Maza’s sexuality and ethnicity are not in violation of their policies.

“Thanks again for taking the time to share all of this information with us,” YouTube wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “We take allegations of harassment very seriously–we know this is important and impacts a lot of people. Our teams spent the last few days conducting an in-depth review of the videos flagged to us, and while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies. We’ve included more info below to explain this decision.”

“As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site. Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint. There are other aspects of the channel that we’re still evaluating– we’ll be in touch with any further updates.”

But, despite this, YouTube’s policies does in fact have a line about not posting content that directly insults others. Their policy guidelines claim that people should not post content that “makes hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person”.

On Twitter, Carlos Maza wrote about how he was stunned by the verdict, saying: “Good lord. @YouTube says it didn't punish Crowder because he was ‘focused primarily on debating’ when he repeatedly called me a ‘lispy queer’. You can harass queer people as much as you want as long as its sandwiched between ‘debating.’ Unreal.”

The decision comes during YouTube’s celebration of Pride Month, where the video platform is releasing three documentaries about LGBT issues that are available to watch for free on the site. Carlos, however, wasn’t so convinced YouTube’s support of LGBT right was genuine and urged creators themselves to rise up against the company.

“If you're a prominent LGBT creator on YouTube, you have an incredible opportunity to raise hell for a company that's been exploiting you for a while now,” he wrote. “It's fucking Pride month. Use your power. Other queer creators are counting on you.”