Tegan and Sara join YouTubers in questioning LGBTQ video filtering

Published on March 20, 2017

TORONTO — A chorus of Canadian LGBTQ YouTubers, including pop duo Tegan and Sara, is calling for the video service to stop filtering out gay and trans-themed videos for some users.

The Calgary-raised sisters have taken to social media to question why YouTube's "restricted" setting appears to block a wide variety of LGBTQ-friendly content for no clear reason.

"If you put YouTube on restricted mode a bunch of our music videos disappear. I checked myself. LGBTQ people shouldn't be restricted. SAD!" Tegan and Sara tweeted. Among the missing clips were music videos from their latest album, including for "That Girl" and "U-turn."

They were joined by Halifax singer Ria Mae, who said her video for "Gold," which features the singer in a lesbian relationship, was also being filtered out.

"Young gay kids need to see themselves represented and they need to know it's normal, it's OK and it's not X-rated," Mae posted in a video on her Instagram account.

"It sends a bad message to young gay kids and young trans kids that their lives are not normal or acceptable."

At issue is YouTube's "restricted" designation, which lets parents, schools and libraries filter out content that isn't deemed appropriate for users under 18. YouTube calls it "an optional feature used by a very small subset of users."

It's unclear whether the types of videos in question are now being categorized as "restricted" for the first time, or whether the filtering is only now getting attention.

In an emailed statement on Monday, YouTube said "some videos that cover subjects like health, politics and sexuality may not appear for users and institutions that choose to use this feature."

YouTube acknowledged that "some videos are incorrectly labelled by our automated system and we realize it's very important to get this right."

"We're working hard to make some improvements," the company said Monday afternoon without offering further details.

The complaints spawned the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty, which was a Twitter trending topic worldwide over the weekend.

Toronto-based transgender YouTuber Stef Sanjati had 48 of her videos blocked as of Monday, including clips discussing transgender student bathrooms and makeup tips.

Fellow gay video maker Michael Rizzi was also affected, with 176 of his 236 videos disappearing in "restricted" mode.


— With files from the Associated Press


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David Friend, The Canadian Press