LGBTQ+ YouTubers Allege that YouTube Engages in Discriminatory Practices
  • Monday, Aug. 19, 2019
Dorian Slater Thomas is an associate in the Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations Group, where he handles a wide range of transactional advertising work for prominent agencies, brands and individual creative talent.

Eight YouTubers, including the creators of such channels as GlitterBombTV, Queer Kid Stuff, and Watts the Safeword, recently filed a class action complaint in the Northern District of California against YouTube and its parent company Google. The complaint alleges that YouTube discriminantly targets LGBTQ+ YouTube channels and content with headlines or tags that include trigger words such as “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” or “queer.” The Plaintiffs allege that they “are now being subjected to unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBTQ+ Plaintiffs and the greater LGBTQ+ community.”

In particular, the Plaintiffs allege that YouTube, through its algorithms and manual review, utilizes its “Restricted Mode” functionality to block access to LGTBQ+ content despite such content complying with YouTube’s Community Guidelines and its Age Based Restriction Criteria. According to the complaint, not only does Restricted Mode restrain the scope of the content’s reach, it also prevents the content from receiving advertising revenue. The Plaintiffs further allege that YouTube has removed LGBTQ+ content from YouTube’s search functionality, including removing LGBTQ+ content from the “up next” recommendation functionality, effectively removing the content from the view of YouTube’s users. Finally, the Plaintiffs allege that YouTube places, or allows for the placement of, anti-LGBTQ+ advertisements immediately before LGBTQ+ content.

Through these actions, the Plaintiffs allege that YouTube and Google have violated various federal and state laws concerning speech, discrimination, and false advertising. The Plaintiffs have created a video further explaining the rationale behind their complaint, which is available on, you guessed it, YouTube and may be accessed  here

"Defendants have brazenly abandoned YouTube's Four Freedoms and hijacked the YouTube community and the mission that defines that community, by continuing to engage in and defend identity, viewpoint, discriminatory, and illegal content-based regulation, distribution and monetization policies that harm YouTube's LGBTQ+ community and other YouTube community members."

Read the lawsuit filing here

This column presents a general discussion of legal issues, but is not legal advice and may not be applicable in all situations. Consult your attorney. To contact Dorian Thomas ESQ click here.

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Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Founded more than 40 years ago as a boutique entertainment law firm in New York City, Frankfurt Kurnit now provides the highest quality legal services to clients in a wide range of industries and disciplines worldwide. With leading practices in advertising, entertainment, IP, technology, privacy, litigation, corporate, estate planning, charitable organizations, professional responsibility and other areas — Frankfurt Kurnit can help you face challenging legal and business issues and meet your goals with efficient and practical solutions.

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