YouTube Has Begun Blocking Discriminatory Content Just A Day After Saying It Doesn’t Violate Its Policies

YouTube’s announcement Wednesday follows a viral Twitter thread by Vox journalist Carlos Maza documenting the anti-gay abuse he’s experienced on YouTube for years.

YouTube announced Wednesday that it will prohibit videos that promote discrimination or segregation based on things like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran status. The announcement comes just a day after the video platform was criticized for how it handles anti-gay content. Thousands of channels are expected to be affected by the policy change shortly.

The announcement identified several kinds of videos that will now be prohibited on the platform. “This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place,” YouTube’s post read.

As the policy started to take effect Wednesday, creators chaotically started tweeting screenshots of emails from YouTube notifying them that they were in violation of the new policy.

Several prominent far-right influencers affected by YouTube's rolling policy changes include white nationalist James Allsup, Austrian Identitarian Martin Sellner, Swedish white nationalists Red Ice TV, and Swedish white nationalist bodybuilder Marcus Follin, who goes by the name "The Golden One" — all of whom were demonetized Wednesday. Conservative American minister Jesse Lee Peterson also had his channel demonetized for videos he made about Rep. Ilhan Omar.

Far-right personality Gavin McInnes and unsuccessful European parliamentary candidate Mark Meechan, who goes by "Count Dankula," both reported having videos removed from their channels.

Neo-Nazi channels Thulean Perspective, The Great Order, and a fash-wave artist called xurious were all removed from the platform. Documentary channel News2Share, which primarily published footage of anti-Trump protests, was also demonetized. Scott Allsop, who works at the British School of Bucharest, reported that his channel was deleted, most likely due to the clips of Nazi propaganda he was archiving there for educational purposes.

"I'm devastated to have this claim leveled against me, and frustrated 15yrs of materials for #HistoryTeacher community have ended so abruptly," Allsop tweeted.

Last week, Vox host Carlos Maza wrote a viral Twitter thread describing the harassment he has been experiencing from far-right internet personality Stephen Crowder and his followers. Crowder has published a number of videos mocking Maza, calling him a “lispy queer,” and made other racist and anti-gay comments. Maza, who hosts the Vox show Strikethrough, said both he and Vox have directly reached out to YouTube for the past two years “and have gotten no action at all from them.”

The rollout of YouTube's new policy has been wildly confusing to say the least. The Google-owned video platform first announced that it would be demonetizing Crowder's channel on Wednesday. In a tweet, the platform said that Crowder would no longer be able to run ads on his channel due to a pattern of egregious accounts that has harmed the broader community.

"Just spoke with YouTube. Confirmed, the second Adpocalypse IS here and they’re coming for you," Crowder said in a tweet Wednesday.

YouTube later clarified that Crowder's channel would have the ad restrictions removed if he deleted a link to T-shirts he was selling that read "Socialism Is For Fags". YouTube then clarified a second time that it was just talking specifically about the T-shirts and that Crowder would still have to address other issues with his channel before it was reinstated for monetization.

Just a day earlier, YouTube had said in a series of tweets that Crowder’s near-constant harassment of Maza did not violate its policies.

@gaywonk (1/4) Thanks again for taking the time to share all of this information with us. We take allegations of harassment very seriously–we know this is important and impacts a lot of people.

@gaywonk (2/4) 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. We’ve included more info below to explain this decision:

@gaywonk (3/4) As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.

@gaywonk (4/4) Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint. There are other aspects of the channel that we’re still evaluating– we’ll be in touch with any further updates.

YouTube also said Wednesday that the platform will be reducing what it calls “borderline content.”

“In January, we piloted an update of our systems in the U.S. to limit recommendations of borderline content and harmful misinformation, such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, or claiming the earth is flat,” YouTube stated. “We’re looking to bring this updated system to more countries by the end of 2019.”

The company said it would begin placing new restrictions on how channels monetize their videos.

“Channels that repeatedly brush up against our hate speech policies will be suspended from the YouTube Partner program, meaning they can’t run ads on their channel or use other monetization features like Super Chat,” the blog post reads.

Super Chat is a tool that lets channel subscribers pay creators directly for extra chat features. BuzzFeed News has previously reported on how the Super Chat feature has been used to fund extremist YouTube creators. Red Ice TV was able to raise money using Super Chat as recently as April, when it livestreamed the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing about hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism. At one point, a user donated $100 and wrote, “This is nothing but the elites and globalists setting up laws that will be enacted in a single pen stroke against the white race in the future. I am also a person of interest for donating to Red Ice over the years and I don’t f**king care…”

YouTube said it also plans to make videos from authoritative sources appear higher up in its Watch Next panel.

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