- YouTube published a blog defending its decision not to remove YouTuber Steven Crowder from its platform after he used homophobic slurs against Vox journalist Carlos Maza.
- The company’s head of communications Chris Dale said that as an open platform, YouTube can’t remove all material for being offensive as it would quash freedom of speech.
- He said YouTube will take a “hard look” at its harassment policies following the case, but admitted that “not everyone will agree with the calls we make.”
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Following an intense backlash after YouTube initially refused to punish a creator who hurled homophobic abuse at a journalist, the video site has said it will never be able to satisfy everyone.
Vox journalist Carlos Maza detailed in a Twitter thread how Steven Crowder – who has 3.8 million subscribers – consistently mocks his sexuality and ethnicity in his YouTube videos, calling him a “lispy queer” and a “gay latino.”
YouTube responded to Maza saying that although Crowder’s language was “hurtful,” it didn’t constitute a violation of its policies.
The decision dumbfounded Maza and prompted fierce criticism, with many (including Google staff) calling YouTube’s enforcement of its own policies into question. Hours later, YouTube demonetized Crowder’s channel, meaning he won’t be able to make money from advertising.
YouTube has now published a blog post explaining its decision in more detail. “As an open platform, we sometimes host opinions and views that many, ourselves included, may find offensive,” wrote YouTube’s head of communications Chris Dale. He elaborated that to remove offensive material would mean losing “valuable speech.”
Dale wrote that for a video to break YouTube’s rules on harassment, the purpose of the video as a whole has to be to target an individual by inciting further harassment, threatening or humiliating them, or revealing personal information about them.
“Short moments from these videos spliced together paint a troubling picture. But, individually, they don’t always cross the line,” he wrote. This was an apparent reference to Maza tweeting a supercut of Crowder‘s worst remarks.
Dale also referred to YouTube’s later decision to demonetize Crowder’s channel:
“In the case of Crowder’s channel, a thorough review over the weekend found that individually, the flagged videos did not violate our Community Guidelines.
“However, in the subsequent days, we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behaviour, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetisation.
“In order to be considered for reinstatement, all relevant issues with the channel need to be addressed, including any videos that violate our policies, as well as things like offensive merchandise.”
Crowder’s merchandise store sells T-shirts featuring the slogan “Socialism Is For F*gs.”
“Not everyone will agree with the calls we make – some will say we haven’t done enough; others will say we’ve gone too far,” wrote Dale. However, he said that YouTube will be “taking a hard look” at its harassment policies by consulting with, “experts, creators, journalists and those who have, themselves, been victims of harassment.”
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