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What Exactly Is Hidden In YouTube's 'Restricted Mode?'

What Exactly Is Hidden In YouTube's 'Restricted Mode?'

What Exactly Is Hidden In YouTube's 'Restricted Mode?'

Is the application unfairly targeting LGBTQ content? 

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In the last week, the video blogging community has been in an uproar over YouTube's controversial 'restricted mode' feature. Once on, the setting hides videos it deems might be inappropriate for children under the age of 18, and is recommended for use in schools, libraries, and parents who don't want their children to get into trouble. 

The setting filters out "mature" videos, but many LGBTQ users feel like their content is being unfairly targeted, including pop power duo Tegan and Sara. 

So what exactly is restricted mode? According to YouTube, it is the following:

"Restricted Mode is an optional setting that you can use to help screen out potentially mature content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see.

We use many signals—such as video title, description, metadata, Community Guidelines reviews, and age-restrictions—to identify and filter out potentially mature content. Restricted Mode is available in all languages, but due to differences in cultural norms and sensitivities, the quality may vary."

After this social media catastrophe, YouTube quickly unrestricted many of Tegan and Sara's music videos. But some other queer names on YouTube weren't as lucky. Let's take a look at what exactly YouTube's restrictions hides from viewers.

Here is what professional YouTuber and gay personality Tyler Oakley's page normally looks like:

And here is his page in restricted mode:

Many of Oakley's videos disappear, most notably the "8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me" video.

I also took a look at LGBTQ YouTuber and pop star Troye Sivan's channel, who has been a strong voice with young queer people since his own coming out at 15. Here's what it usually looks like:

And here's Sivan's channel in restricted mode:

The restriction of Sivan's "Blue Neighborhood" trilogy is somewhat understandable because it does contain themes of abuse and suicide, but his other hidden music videos simply celebrate queer joy and relationships. Does that qualify as "mature content?"

I checked out Logo TV's YouTube channel and the results were more surprising. Here is the page normally:

And in restricted mode, only three videos appear:

This is a very stark difference compared to VH1's restricted mode page: 

Content from America's Next Top Model appeared repeatedly. So where is RuPaul's Drag Race on Logo's channel? 

YouTube is revisiting what exactly qualifies as "mature content." The company is working on resolving the issue and has released multiple statements:

But Oakley, and many others, don't believe YouTube is doing enough.

Queer content is not inherently mature media, but YouTube's algorithm seems to be treating it that way. What do you think? Are YouTube's filters biased against LGBTQ content? 

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Taylor Henderson

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one! 

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one!