A well-documented spat between Vox Media writer/host Carlos Maza and conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder has been gaining traction—and at the centre of it all is YouTube. More specifically, YouTube’s policies on harassment and hate speech.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has apologised to the LGBTQ community for the video-sharing company’s perceived lack of action regarding the matter, but the decision to leave Crowder’s videos up on the platform remains a point of contention for many.
“I know that the decisions we made was very hurtful to the LGBTQ community and that wasn’t our intention at all. That was not our intention, and we were really sorry about that, and I do want to explain why we made the decision we did.”– Susan Wojcicki at the Code Conference in Scottsdale, AZ
Instead, YouTube has left Crowder’s videos, including those highlighted by Maza in a very public series of Tweets, on its platform. Rather than taking down the videos, the team decided to stop running ads on Steven Crowder’s channel, thus demonetising him.
But is that really enough?
The spat between Maza and Crowder has been hotly-discussed, with many arguing that YouTube is turning a blind eye towards marginalised communities like the LGBTQ community.
Maza revealed on Twitter that he had been subjected to regular attacks on his sexual orientation and ethnicity by Crowder via YouTube videos ever since he began working at Vox Media.
In response, Crowder claimed that his remarks–which included calling Maza a “lispy queer” and a “gay Mexican”–were largely “harmless ribbing”.
In response, YouTube posted a series of tweets replying to Maza’s original tweet—in a nutshell, Crowder’s videos will remain on the platform as they were not found to have violated any of its policies.
YouTube made a point (in their final tweet) that their decision to leave the video up on YouTube isn’t an endorsement, but many are arguing that YouTube is blatantly disregarding its own policies by leaving the video up.
According to their official page, “Hate speech is not allowed on YouTube. We remove content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on any of the following attributes,” including “sexual orientation.”
With regards to harassment and cyberbullying, YouTube’s policies on the matter are as follows;
- “Content or behavior intended to maliciously harass, threaten, or bully others is not allowed on YouTube.”
- “Content that is deliberately posted in order to humiliate someone,”
- “Content that makes hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person,” and;
- “Content that incites others to harass or threaten individuals on or off YouTube” are also supposedly prohibited.
So how is it that a video that is arguably in violation of these guidelines remains up and open to the public?
“We need to be consistent”
Wojcicki explains the decision to leave Crowder’s video on YouTube as a matter of consistency. “It’s just from a policy standpoint we need to be consistent — if we took down that content, there would be so much other content that we need to take down,” she said.
The defense offered by fans of Crowder’s channel is that the nature of his conservative videos is purely satirical. According to the YouTube CEO, it’s all a matter of context. What about rap videos and their derogatory lyrics, or even other videos that contain inappropriate humour?
She further explained that YouTube tries not to alter its policies in a knee-jerk reaction, but is that really what this is? In an interview with CNN Business, Maza claimed that YouTube’s interpretation of its policies would mean that videos would only ever be taken down if creators actually direct their audiences to harass someone else.
Maza has also repeatedly stated that YouTube’s supposed support of the LGBTQ community stinks of hypocrisy, with LGBTQ creators being supposedly used to showcase the company’s support of the community—all in the name of advertising and capital gain.
Yes, YouTube is a private company. Yes, they aren’t legally bound to remove videos. But, at the same time, the resulting outcry to their decision is also justified. After all, what’s the point of having policies if you aren’t going to enforce them?
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.– Carlos Maza on Twitter