YouTube has declined to remove videos containing what officials called “hurtful” language against a gay Latinx journalist.
The reporter, Carlos Maza of Vox, took to Twitter to explain the situation last week, saying one specific vlogger, Steven Crowder, has made a multitude of videos specifically targeting him.
“I’ve been called an anchor baby, a lispy queer, a Mexican, etc. 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,” Maza wrote on Twitter.
Maza also said he’d been doxxed. Doxxing is the act of publicly posting an individual’s personal information, like a phone number or address, online with the intent to harass.
YouTube officials responded to Maza’s tweet, saying they looked into the allegations of harassment but didn’t find them to be in violation of the platform’s policies.
“Our teams spent the last few days conducting an in-depth review of the videos flagged to us, and while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies,” officials wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.
The next day, YouTube said it was demonetizing Crowder’s channel — which means ads will no longer play on his videos — because “a pattern of egregious actions has harmed the broader community.”
YouTube’s hate speech policy bans the use of “stereotypes that incite or promote hatred” based on sexual orientation as well as other attributes. Its harassment policy bans the use of “hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person.”
Crowder defended his position, saying he condemned doxxing. He also promoted subscriptions to his website using the promo code “free speech.”
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz also came to Crowder’s defence, saying YouTube should stop “silencing those voices you disagree with.”
YouTube’s decision to keep Crowder’s videos on the website sparked outrage from LGBTQ2 vloggers and the wider community on YouTube.
Gregory Brown, one of the creators of the Toronto-based ASAP Science, called the decision “disappointing.” Others said the decision to demonetize but not remove was hypocritical.
YouTube defended its position, telling the Verge that Crowder’s language was allowed because it was “focused primarily on debating the opinions.”
Maza himself said YouTube has normalized hate speech “by treating it like a part of regular political discourse.”
“Queer people and people of colour shouldn’t have to endure abuse just to participate in controversial discussions,” he said.
Others pointed out that the policies are not clearly or consistently enforced.
“This notion about a video needing to ‘primarily’ be about harassment is just now coming up, seemingly for the first time,” Verge reporter Nick Statt said.