YouTube’s developers have responded to an uproar caused by its “restricted mode” filter blocking LGBTQ content, saying that the problem has been solved.
In March, YouTube modified its “restricted mode,” an option that filters content that may be inappropriate for children. The filter, though, blocked a lot of pro-LGBTQ content that was not pornographic, violent, or full of obscene language. Hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ videos were blocked in restricted mode, while anti-LGBTQ content was not blocked.
YouTube Vice President Johanna Wright wrote in a blog post:
After a thorough investigation, we started making several improvements to Restricted Mode. On the engineering side, we fixed an issue that was incorrectly filtering videos for this feature, and now 12 million additional videos of all types — including hundreds of thousands featuring LGBTQ+ content — are available in Restricted Mode.
Wright did not go into detail about changes made by developers, but Engadget reports that YouTube’s team reviewed many of the censored videos in an effort to train its algorithm. The result is that 12 million videos are no longer filtered in restricted mode.
Wright also said that there’s a form that content creators can fill out if one of their videos is inappropriately filtered, because the system will “never be 100 percent perfect.”
Among the many LGBTQ videos that were picked up by the filter was this one from a lesbian couple exchanging wedding vows:
One YouTuber posted on Twitter that videos related to her bisexuality were filtered but not videos on other topics, showing that LGBTQ content was being targeted by the algorithm:
With the click of a button YouTube's restricted mode makes me appear straight. Even when you dig/type in my name + bisexuality, this happens pic.twitter.com/JKbivanJdS
— Melanie ? Murphy (@melaniietweets) March 19, 2017
And another YouTuber asked why homophobic content wasn’t being filtered, if all that the algorithm was looking for was key words like “gay”:
i'm confused, shouldn't these be the restricted videos??#YoutubeIsoverParty pic.twitter.com/4kfasbVdnj
— Kat (@kat_katayama) March 20, 2017
Wright listed the kind of content that would appropriately be blocked in restricted mode:
Drugs and alcohol: If you’re talking about drug use or abuse, or if you’re drinking alcohol in your videos, your videos will likely not be available in Restricted Mode.
Sex: While some educational, straightforward conversations about sexual education may be included in Restricted Mode, overly detailed conversations about sex or sexual activity will likely be removed. This is one of the more difficult topics to train our systems on, and context is key. If your music video features adult themes like sex or drug use, that video will likely not make it into Restricted Mode.
Violence: If your video includes graphic descriptions of violence, violent acts, natural disasters and tragedies, or even violence in the news, it will likely not appear in Restricted Mode.
Mature subjects: Videos that cover specific details about events related to terrorism, war, crime, and political conflicts that resulted in death or serious injury may not be available on Restricted Mode, even if no graphic imagery is shown.
Profane and mature language: Inappropriate language including profanity like “F bombs” will also likely result in your video not being available in Restricted Mode.