March hasn’t been a good month for YouTube. The ‘value gap’ debate has taken a backseat to other headaches around the video service’s status as a publisher as well as a platform.

We reported yesterday on the rumpus around adverts being placed next to extremist content on YouTube, but now it’s also fielding fierce criticism from the LGBTQ community.

Why? Because of YouTube’s ‘restricted’ mode, which it turns out is screening out some videos whose themes are gender and sexuality, but whose content is in no way explicit.

Cue understandable anger from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual and queer-identifying vloggers and channel owners, and a response from YouTube that acknowledges their concerns.

“We are so proud to represent LGBTQ+ voices on our platform – they’re a key part of what YouTube is all about,” claimed a tweet from YouTube’s official ‘Creators’ account.

A message to our community …

— YouTube Creators (@YouTubeCreators) March 20, 2017

“The intention of Restricted Mode is to filter out mature content for the tiny subset of users who want a more limited experience. LGBTQ+ videos are available in Restricted Mode, but videos that discuss more sensitive issues may not be.”

This was followed up by a proper apology in a blog post. “The bottom line is that this feature isn’t working the way it should. We’re sorry and we’re going to fix it.”

The challenge for YouTube is running an algorithmic filter designed to screen out profanity, violence and certain discussions around eating disorders and addictions, without classifying (for example) videos about people’s coming-out experiences as somehow offensive.

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