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24/05/2019 Communication Science news and articles

Is YouTube screwing up?

What’s up with YouTube?


In recent weeks, YouTube has been under attack by their users and press media. Several concerns regarding the platform have come to light, of which one took the spotlight. People discovered that quite a few videos containing LGBTQ+ content were hidden in YouTube’s ‘restricted mode’. What’s up with this and what other problems are YouTube users facing?

Firstly, it might be helpful to explain what the mega company’s ‘restricted mode’ means. It seems to be in line with restrictions made earlier this year regarding video monetization. Although they were received with a huge wave of negativity, the restrictions made its way to reality and have been carried out as announced. This, however, has no direct effect on which videos are visible to which users, as they apply solely to monetization of videos.

That now has changed, with YouTube’s introduction of the ‘restricted mode’. At the click of a single button, your browsing experience on the platform can be altered. The mode allows the filtering of so-called ‘mature content’. According to their Help page, the mode is based on cues like existing age-restrictions to videos, video titles and reviews by community members.

It turns out this mode is not all fun and games

So, what’s the issue?
While this mode sounds all fun and games, it turns out that it’s not. Users who have tried out the mode found out many videos containing LGBTQ+ content, for example on gay marriage or coming out stories, couldn’t be viewed when ‘restricted mode’ was turned on. Take for instance this comparison of Tyler Oakley’s most recent videos. On the left is the list using YouTube normally and on the right is his channel with restricted mode on. The last video on the left, 8 Black LGBTQ+ Trailblazers Who Inspire Me, has disappeared in restricted mode.

In true social media style, YouTube was soon to respond to the issue with the following tweets:

This, however, doesn’t show as many videos, including the one above by Tyler Oakley, are still not visible in restricted mode. Obviously it can take some time to change algorithms and systems, but in nine days a whole lot of changes could have been made for the better.

It also leaves the question whether this mode is even necessary at all. For the very young children, YouTube had their Kids app developed, which only provides child-friendly content. On their original platform, they have implemented a system in which certain ‘adult’ videos are restricted to users below 18 years old. What does this filter bring to the table that hasn’t been served and swallowed already?

Is that all?
This is not where the trouble with YouTube ends, though. For months now, users have been complaining about two additional issues. The first is that some videos do not show up in subscription boxes. As users then have to search for the YouTuber or video in question personally, it kind of defeats the whole purpose of having subscription boxes in the first place. The second, as mentioned below by YouTuber Alfie Deyes, is the random unsubscribe actions that YouTube has been doing to various users.

Dear YouTube, when are you fixing all this and allowing users to fully enjoy the platform the way it was intended: uncensored, progressive and inclusive.

Cover: freestocks.org

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