YouTube will no longer allow videos to spew insults based on race, gender or sexual orientation

The platform came under fire for its opaque policies on harassment in the past.

December 11, 2019, 5:35 PM

YouTube announced it will no longer allow content that insults someone based on race, gender or sexual orientation as part of its revamped crack down on harassment.

"We will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation," Matt Halprin, the vice president and global head of trust and safety at YouTube said in a statement Wednesday.

"This applies to everyone, from private individuals, to YouTube creators, to public officials," he added.

PHOTO: The Logo of video-sharing website YouTube is displayed on a smartphone on Nov. 19, 2018, in Berlin.
The Logo of video-sharing website YouTube is displayed on a smartphone on Nov. 19, 2018, in Berlin.
Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images, FILE

The crackdown comes after YouTube has courted controversy for its handling of harassment allegations on its platform in the past.

In a June saga that played out on Twitter, Carlos Maza, a journalist who identifies as gay and Latino, blasted YouTube for allowing harassing videos from a right-wing commentator, Steven Crowder, to rack up millions of views.

Maza placed the blame directly on YouTube, calling for the platform to be held accountable for the "bullying" in a tweet.

"I've been called an anchor baby, a lispy queer, a Mexican, etc. These videos get millions of views on YouTube. Every time one gets posted, I wake up to a wall of homophobic/racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter," Maza tweeted.

He continued: "That being said, I'm not mad at Crowder. There will always be monsters in the world. I'm f------ pissed at @YouTube, which claims to support its LGBT creators, and has explicit policies against harassment and bullying."

YouTube responded in a series of tweets, initially saying that Crowder's videos did not violate its terms of service. It then reversed course and said it would suspend monetization on Crowder's videos, meaning Crowder wouldn't receive ad revenue.

Crowder responded at the time in a video saying his free speech was being assaulted as platforms pander to the left.

In the update to YouTube's policies announced Wednesday, the company said it will remove content from channels and terminate a channel altogether for repeated offenses.

"Channels that repeatedly brush up against our harassment policy will be suspended from YPP [Youtube Partner Program], eliminating their ability to make money on YouTube," Halprin said. "We may also remove content from channels if they repeatedly harass someone. If this behavior continues, we’ll take more severe action including issuing strikes or terminating a channel altogether."

With the updated policies, YouTube confirmed to the Associated Press that Crowder’s videos about Maza are now a violation of policies and will not only be de-monetized but removed.

Maza tweeted Wednesday that his reaction to YouTube's policy announcement is "extreme skepticism."

"These policies only work if YouTube is willing to take down its most popular rule-breakers," he wrote. "And there's no reason, so far, to believe that it is."

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