Profiting off our Pride? YouTube’s Disappointing Response to Abuse Allegations

Journalist Carlos Maza endured years of homophobic and racial abuse from a YouTube creator: YouTube claims he did not violate their policies.

Every year during Pride month, YouTube, like millions of other corporations, pays lip service to the LGBTQ+ community. This year, they showed their support by releasing their State of Pride video. When it comes to their own harassment and cyberbullying policy regarding homophobia however, YouTube has shown reluctance to enforce punishment. On May 30th, Vox journalist Carlos Maza posted a video on his Twitter detailing years of harassment at the hands of YouTuber and professional troll Steven Crowder. In the Tweets that followed, Maza asked YouTube to step in and take action against Crowder.

In the above video, Crowder refers to Maza as a “lispy queer”, a “gay latino”, an “angry sprite”, and an “anchor baby” amongst a plethora of other racist and homophobic slurs. In his subsequent Tweet thread, Maza goes on to describe two years of frightening phone calls and homophobic messages from Crowder’s legion of fans.

Later that same day, the response account for YouTube, known as @TeamYouTube, tweeted Maza to assure him that they would be investigating the claims of abuse:

As the thread picked up momentum across the Twitter-sphere over the next few days, a range of high profile names began contributing to the discussion, including Olympic athlete Adam Rippon, and political power house Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Olympic Athlete Adam Rippon shares his thoughts on the controversy.
U.S RepresentativeAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks out about lack of action from social media sites against discriminatory behaviour.

On June 3rd, Crowder released a disrespectful fake apology video aimed at Maza, in which he exacerbates his existing hate speech by repeating every one of his past remarks.

The following day, as predicted by a number of Twitter users who have experienced YouTube’s inconsistent ‘policies’ on a number of separate occasions, the @TeamYouTube account informed Maza that despite an ‘in-depth review’ of the situation, Crowder had not violated their harassment and cyberbullying policy.

It only takes a quick glance at the YouTube policy page to find in five minutes what YouTube failed to find in five days. YouTube claims to ban content that is deliberately posted to humiliate someone, content that makes hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person, or incites others to harass or threaten individuals on or off YouTube:

Screenshots from YouTube’s policy page.

Clearly, Crowder’s content conflicts with these rules, forcing millions of people to pose the question: Why did YouTube not take down Crowder’s channel immediately?

The answer likely boils down to, as Ms Ocasio-Cortez deduced, ‘engagement’. As far as YouTube is concerned, the millions of views that Crowder’s channel generates are worth more than the hurt feelings of one “lispy queer”. Alexandria said it best in the following Tweeted statement:

What are your thoughts on YouTube’s decision? Share your opinion by retweeting this article and tweeting your opinion at @TeamYouTube. Encourage LGBTQ+ creators with bigger followings to speak out publicly as well. You have a voice, and this Pride month we do not have to stay silent as another corporation ignores its obligation to protect the community that it claims to support.

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