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A Message on Pride and LGBTQ Initiatives

Inside YouTube

A Message on Pride and LGBTQ Initiatives

By Susan Wojcicki

CEO, YouTube

June is a very important time for us here at YouTube. Since our earliest years, YouTube has come together to celebrate Pride and honor the contributions that LGBTQ creators and fans have made to our platform. From the It Gets Better campaign, to the thousands of inspiring coming out videos, to the emergence of popular transgender creators, the voices of our LGBTQ community have been key to pushing society in a more understanding and tolerant direction.

While we stand by that proud legacy, we realize that our commitment to give all LGBTQ creators a voice was unfortunately impacted by our Restricted Mode feature. Restricted Mode was originally designed as an optional feature for public institutions like libraries and schools to prevent the viewing of mature content on YouTube. But in looking more closely at the feature, we found that there was LGBTQ (and other) content that should have been included in Restricted Mode but was not, like kissing at weddings, personal accounts of difficult events, and speaking out against discrimination.

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. 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.

To offer a little more detail, here's the latest on our progress on Restricted Mode:

  • Our teams worked with dozens of volunteer LGBTQ employees and select LGBTQ creators to get feedback on our policies and we incorporated that feedback into our processes moving forward.
  • To date, over 12 million additional videos of all types—including hundreds of thousands featuring LGBTQ content—are now available in Restricted Mode.
  • We’ve published and broadened Restricted Mode guidelines to ensure that non-graphic, personal accounts of difficult events are available. For example, personal accounts of individuals who suffered discrimination or were impacted by violence for being part of a protected group will now be included in Restricted Mode, provided they don’t contain graphic language or content. Soon we'll have new content in Creator Academy to describe in detail how to make videos that will meet the criteria for Restricted Mode.
  • To help our systems get better, we invite creators and users to submit instances where they think we got it wrong. We review EVERY video submitted, and in those instances where we make changes to include videos in Restricted Mode, those lessons make our systems better.

On a separate note, earlier this year many creators, including LGBTQ creators, expressed confusion and concern about revenue fluctuations in the wake of advertiser concerns around where their ads are placed on YouTube. These were separate issues that unfortunately happened at the same time. As advertisers paused their spend on YouTube it impacted a broad range of creators. We have rigorous training to ensure that anyone who reviews content that’s been flagged for review ensures all content is treated fairly. For more information, please see our Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines in the Help Center.

Looking beyond Restricted Mode, we want to reiterate that YouTube is committed to enabling and promoting LGBTQ voices and resources on our platform.

  • To celebrate Pride, we’re promoting LGBTQ creators and their content as part of the launch of our fifth annual #ProudToBe campaign. Over the course of the next year, we'll celebrate LGBTQ History Month and International Transgender Day of Visibility. And on June 27, we will also introduce a permanent shelf on our US Spotlight channel to showcase LGBTQ videos throughout the year refreshed on a weekly basis.
  • Recognizing the specific needs of at-risk LGBTQ youth, we’re also partnering with the leading organization for crisis intervention services for this community, The Trevor Project. We’re investing in Trevor’s channel growth as well as audience development, to expand their reach. We’re also working with 25 global suicide prevention organizations to help surface assistance via phone and text at the time of need.
  • We're partnering to celebrate LGBTQ history with the NYC LGBT Community Center. Google.org recently announced a $1 million grant to the New York City's LGBT Community Center to support the Stonewall National Monument, the first LGBTQ dedicated landmark in the United States. As a part of this support, we're excited to announce opportunities in the near future for YouTube creators to share LGBTQ history with their audience through the Stonewall initiative.

Most importantly, our recent experience has taught us that we need to do a better job of listening to and communicating with our LGBTQ community.

  • Over the next few months we will be hosting a series of six Creator Roundtables in YouTube Spaces (in NYC, LA, Toronto, Paris, Berlin, London) focused on discussing initiatives that impact the LGBTQ community and on gathering your feedback to improve our products and programs.
  • We’ll also host Creator Council Advisory Sessions, both in person and virtual, to get further feedback throughout the year.

At YouTube, we’re proud to stand with the LGBTQ community to support equal rights. Through Pride month and beyond, we will continue to honor the goal of making YouTube a place that celebrates your voices and community. We want YouTube to remain a place where LGBTQ people and their families, friends and supporters can express themselves, empower others and find a place to belong.