Over the years Youtube has caught a lot of flack from its users for allegedly targeting LGBTQ content simply for the fact that it contained keywords like “Gay” or “Transgender”, many going as far as to say it is making it impossible for Youtubers to attract advertisers out of mere possibility that the content may not be suitable for all ages. Youtube has allegedly been using these key words to demonetize, hide, and generally censor content.
Three YouTubers Sealow, the CEO of research firm Ocelot AI; YouTube creator Andrew who operates the YouTube Analyzed channel; and Een of popular YouTube commentary and investigative channel Nerd City, looked into what it would take to get a video demonetized. Andrew manually tested 15,300 words between June 2nd and July 5th, 2019, using the most common terms in Webster’s Dictionary, UrbanDictionary, and Google search results. The second round of experiment ran between July 6th and July 21st, and it included 14,000 words that were automated using YouTube’s data API by Sealow. Een collaborated with his own sources and helped produce the main video. Each uploaded short videos with no real content, just titles.
What the three found was that there are a list of words that increase the likelihood that a video will be demonetized on YouTube, most of which were sexual or political in nature as YouTube avoids associating advertisers with controversial political content.
Andrew, Sealow, and Een each released their individual videos about the findings, alongside an Excel sheet listing all of the words they used and a white paper analysis of their findings. These words were used to test what YouTube’s bots deem automatically inappropriate for demonetization. The team found that if words like “gay” and “lesbian” changed to random words like “happy,” the “status of the video changed to advertiser friendly” every time. “Straight” and “heterosexual,” though, are perfectly fine, according to the YouTubers.
In Andrew’s video he states, “The exact same videos are monetized without the LGBTQ terminology,”. “This is not a matter of LGBTQ personalities being demonetized for something that everyone else would also be demonetized for, such as sex or tragedy. This is LGBTQ terminology like ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ being the sole reason a video is demonetized despite the context.”
Bear in mind, this is not the first time Youtube has been accused of such. Earlier this year, several YouTubers sued the platform alleging that it discriminates against LGBTQ people. Anyway, check out their compelling video below.
Reached by The Verge, a YouTube spokesperson denied that there is a list of LGBTQ words that trigger demonetization, despite the investigation’s findings. The spokesperson added that the company is “constantly evaluating our systems to help ensure that they are reflecting our policies without unfair bias.”