A group of LGBTQ YouTubers have filed a class-action lawsuit against the video-sharing website, and it’s parent company Google, for restricting LGBTQ content, therefore, preventing them from making money.
The Washington Post reported that the class-action lawsuit was filed in federal court in California on Tuesday.
YouTubers GNews!, Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers (BriaAndChrissy), Chase Ross (uppercaseCHASE1), Lindsay Amer (Queer Kid Stuff) and Amp Somers (Watts The Safeword) allege that YouTube’s algorithms are targeting LGBTQ content and making videos ineligible for ads and monetization.
They claim YouTube labels their videos as offensive or sexually explicit because they include LGBTQ content such as the words “gay,” “lesbian,” and “bisexual.” As a result, the creators say their videos are being demonetized; their thumbnail videos are changed; they aren’t allowed to purchase ads and their videos aren’t being recommended to other users.
LGBTQ creators say these alleged actions are affecting their financial income which is heavily based on ads and viewership.
Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers, a married couple behind the popular BriaAndChrissy channel, claim their monthly YouTube revenue dropped to $500 from $3,500. The channel boasts more than 800,000 subscribers.
Bret Somers, who runs the channel Watts the Safeword, decreased from $6,500 to $300.
The lawsuit says YouTube is using “unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBTQ+ Plaintiffs and the greater LGBTQ+ Community.”
“By controlling an estimated 95% of the public video communications that occur in the world, Google and YouTube wield unparalleled power and unfettered discretion to apply viewpoint-based content policies in a way that permits them to pick winners and losers,” Peter Obstler, the plaintiffs’ attorney, told the Washington Post.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki denies that the YouTube algorithm is targeting LGBTQ content.
“There’s no policies that say ‘If you put certain words in a title that will be demonetized.’” Wojcicki told vlogger Alfie Deyes. “We work incredibly hard to make sure that when our machines learn something — because a lot of our decisions are made algorithmically — that our machines are fair. There shouldn’t be [any automatic demonetization].”