- YouTube is refusing to take action after the Vox Media journalist Carlos Maza spoke out about homophobic abuse he said he had received from the YouTuber Steven Crowder.
- Crowder has called Maza a “lispy queer,” among other slurs, while his fans have also targeted the Vox journalist with what Maza called a “wall of homophobic/racist abuse.”
- YouTube on Wednesday said it found Crowder’s videos were hurtful but not in violation of its policies.
- “I don’t know what to say,” Maza tweeted in a bemused response to YouTube’s decision. Vox Media said YouTube must “remove creators who promote hate.”
- In a video posted on Tuesday, Crowder said Maza’s complaints were a “campaign” to get his channel “deplatformed.”
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YouTube has refused to take action after a journalist accused a YouTuber with millions of subscribers of consistent homophobic and racist harassment.
The Vox journalist Carlos Maza tweeted last week about the harassment he said he’d received from the YouTube star Steven Crowder, who has 3.8 million subscribers.
Maza said that in multiple videos “debunking” his show, “Strikethrough,” Crowder frequently refers to Maza’s sexuality and ethnicity. He included a supercut of examples, in which Crowder appears to refer to Maza as a “lispy queer” and a “gay Latino.”
Since I started working at Vox, Steven Crowder has been making video after video "debunking" Strikethrough. Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity. Here's a sample: pic.twitter.com/UReCcQ2Elj
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 31, 2019
Following the posting of these video clips, Maza said that he often woke up to a “wall of homophobic/racist abuse” on social media and that last year he was doxxed, resulting in text after text from unknown numbers saying “debate Stephen Crowder.”
Five days after Maza raised his concerns on Twitter, YouTube said it had conducted a review of Crowder’s videos. It found that although Crowder’s language was “clearly hurtful,” it didn’t constitute a violation of its policies.
(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.
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) June 4, 2019
YouTube added that allowing a video to remain on its site did not constitute an endorsement and said “other aspects” of Crowder’s channel were still under review.
Maza seemed bemused by YouTube’s decision. He tweeted:
I don’t know what to say.
@YouTube has decided not to punish Crowder, after he spent two years harassing me for being gay and Latino.
I don't know what to say. https://t.co/EFvWCNvPms
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) June 4, 2019
Maza pointed out that anonymous harassment of him had escalated yet further since he spoke out about Crowder’s videos, with a “Carlos Maza is a f*g” T-shirt having been made available for purchase online. The T-shirt is a nod to a piece of merchandise on Crowder’s official store, which bears the tagline “socialism is for f*gs.” On Saturday, Maza also said he had been doxxed again.
He also accused YouTube of paying lip service to LGBTQ rights for cynical gain.
If you’re an LGBT creator, @YouTube is using you.
They’re trotting you out to convince advertisers that their platform hasn’t become a breeding ground for hate speech and bigotry.
They’re hoping you’ll distract advertisers away from the monsters they’re creating.
— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) June 4, 2019
Maza told Business Insider in a direct message that YouTube hadn’t contacted him privately except to send him a link to its original Twitter thread and say its investigation was not yet fully complete. He added that he believed YouTube’s keeping Crowder’s channel up was motivated by its need for engagement.
“If YouTube actually gave a s— about stopping abuse and harassment, this would have been a clear call,” he said. “Anyone with eyes and ears knows the abuse I experienced qualifies as targeted harassment. YouTube is playing dumb because it doesn’t want to admit the obvious: that abuse and harassment is good for ‘engagement,’ and cracking down on abuse would mean shutting down some of YouTube’s most popular right-wing accounts.”
In a video posted on Tuesday, Crowder said Maza’s complaints were a “campaign” to get his channel “deplatformed.”
In a statement sent to The Verge, Vox Media’s publisher, Melissa Bell, said YouTube must “remove creators who promote hate.” She added: “By refusing to take a stand on hate speech, they allow the worst of their communities to hide behind cries of ‘free speech’ and ‘fake news’ all while increasingly targeting people with the most offensive and odious harassment.”
Numerous journalists reacted with dismay to YouTube’s stance on the matter.
YouTube just invalidated its own policies. Apparently now it's happy to host, recommend, and monetize hate speech. Google deserves so much more backlash than it gets https://t.co/uDRDBiH2ce
— Josh Constine (@JoshConstine) June 5, 2019
“If they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site”. A crystal-clear statement of rules-based rather than principles-based regulation, in a context where principles-based regulation is the only conceivable hope. https://t.co/6Fq6IBi8aC
— Felix Salmon (@felixsalmon) June 5, 2019
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) June 5, 2019
YouTube declined to comment further when contacted by Business Insider.
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