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YouTube apologizes to LGBTQ creators for inappropriate ads, demonetization

‘We’re sorry and we want to do better’

Chase Ross Chase Ross/YouTube

YouTube capped off Pride Month with an apology to LGBTQ video creators for hosting inappropriate and homophobic ads, alongside ongoing demonetization issues.

The company’s apology, which was published through a series of four tweets, reads:

It’s the last day of Pride Month and we wanted to reach out to the LGBTQ community. We’re proud of the incredible LGBTQ voices on our platform and the important role you play in the lives of young people.

But we’ve also had issues where we let the LGBTQ community down — inappropriate ads and concerns about how we’re enforcing our monetization policy. We’re sorry and we want to do better.

We’ve taken action on the ads that violate our policies, and we are tightening our enforcement. And when we hear concerns about how we’re implementing our monetization policy, we take them seriously and make improvements if needed.

It’s critical to us that the LGBTQ community feels safe, welcome, equal, and supported on YouTube. Your work is incredibly powerful and we are committed to working with you to get this right.

YouTube’s response comes just a couple of weeks after prominent queer creators publishing on the platform complained about seeing homophobic ads on their videos. Trans creators, like Chase Ross, also noticed that videos with the term “trans” or “transgender” in the titles were often hit with demonetization symbols (that little yellow dollar sign). Ross argued trans creators were being targeted by YouTube, and demanded the company do better for LGBTQ creators.

After Ross’ complaint, YouTube issued a statement at the time, telling Polygon:

Even when an ad does not violate our policies, we understand that creators may not want ads from certain advertisers appearing on their videos. That’s why we give creators the ability to block ads from an advertiser in their AdSense account. We also give creators the option to block certain categories of ads if they choose. In the meantime, we are looking at ways to improve our policies going forward.

Despite YouTube’s apology, the company didn’t specifically address whether new guidelines or efforts were going into effect to prevent this from happening in the future. This isn’t the first time that LGBTQ creators have complained about YouTube’s treatment over their videos. YouTube CEO, Susan Wojcicki issued a statement in June 2017 after LGBTQ creators discovered their videos were being hidden from viewers in restricted mode. The mode is often used by parents to prevent kids from seeing questionable content.

LBGTQ creators complained that their videos, many of which didn’t include anything provocative beyond a simple kiss, were considered inappropriate by the company, prompting YouTube to address the situation.

“Our intention was never to limit this kind of content; having spoken to LGBTQ creators and YouTube employees, I understand just how important it is that teens and students be able to view it,” Wojcicki said in a blog post at the time. “That’s why we’ve updated our policies to explicitly allow these videos in Restricted Mode—it still won’t work perfectly, but over time, our systems will get better. We apologize for these issues and want to reaffirm our commitment that YouTube is a place where all voices can be heard.”

Polygon has reached out to YouTube for further information, and will update the story then.

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