Youtube responds to homophobia controversy leaving LGBT+ community sceptical

YouTube’s muddled response to homophobic and racist abuse leaves LGBT+ community sceptical of the company’s apology.

Vox Presenter for YouTube Show Strikethrough

YouTube has apologised to the LGBT+ community in response to their recent hate speech scandal, LGBT+ content creators, including Lindz Amer, the creator of Queer Kid Stuff have said that the Google-owned company does not value its LGBT+ creators.

At the centre of the scandal are Carlos Maza, a Vox Media journalist who has been the victim of homophobic and racist abuse and conservative political content creator Steven Crowder. Whenever Maza posts a video with Vox, Crowder responds with a video claiming to “debunk” the content. Throughout each of the response videos, Crowder attacks Maza’s sexuality and ethnicity calling him a “lispy queer” and “gay Mexican” among other racist and homophobic remarks.

Crowder has a significant following with 815,000 Twitter followers and 3.9 million YouTube subscribers. In a tweet, Maza described how he is a victim to online abuse whenever Crowder posts a video: “These videos get millions of views on YouTube. Every time one gets posted, I wake up to a wall of homophobic/racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter.”

Google recently transformed its iconic logo to an interactive, rainbow-clad doodle to celebrate 50 years of Pride. This led to criticism of their handling of the hate speech targeted towards Carlos Maza as they support the LGBT+ community in their logo but not in their YouTube policies which allows homophobic harassment on the platform.

When initially YouTube said that Crowder’s video did not violate their policies, following further complaints, including a petition by Google employees, his videos were demonetised. Many Crowder defenders have attempted to frame the controversy as an argument about free speech. Conservative US Senator Ted Cruz criticised YouTube’s decision to demonetise Crowder.

Yesterday YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki apologised to the LGBT+ community at a Coding Conference in Arizona, “I know that the decisions we made was very hurtful to the LGBTQ community and that wasn’t our intention at all.” The CEO said that it was not their intention to hurt the LGBT+ community, however, she said that Crowder’s content will not be removed: “It’s just from a policy standpoint we need to be consistent — if we took down that content, there would be so much other content that we need to take down.”

When YouTube has demonetised controversial content creators in the past, they have used the publicity as a platform to say they are being discriminated against.

YouTube claims that is it a “home” for LGBT+ creators, however, in allowing Crowder to remain on the video sharing platform, it shows that YouTube is willing to tolerate homophobic and racist abuse towards the community. When YouTube has previously come under fire for publishing anti-LGBT ads on videos, age-restricting LGBT+ creator’s videos and now allowing harassment against LGBT+ creators, it is easy to see why many content creators say that YouTube’s apology is not enough and the company must make significant steps to support the community and be the ally the company wants to be perceived as.

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