I occasionally discuss things going on with LGBTQ+ media and the difficulty of support for it in many places where you would not expect it. Today's post is one of those...
Companies get a lot of good press when they express positive LGBTQ+ slogans and when they have floats in Pride Parades or when they put out feel good images of loving, committed LGBTQ+ people. And you think that means that surely that company wouldn't classify all gay content as "not advertiser friendly" and suppress it from viral lists despite it having more views and more velocity of likes/comments/engagement than other non-LGBTQ+ content with less views, less velocity, less engagement, right?
Well, you'd be wrong if we're talking about YouTube. Definitely watch this first video by Nerd City. It's brilliant and damning and will give you all the details of what is going on and likely why:
It's always been an open secret that YouTube demonitizes and suppresses LGBTQ+ content. What I mean by demonitize is that those videos are not allowed to have ads placed upon them. Most YouTube creators get the majority of the money to make their videos from Adsense that comes from having those ads at the beginning or somewhere in their videos (you know, the ones you quickly click SKIP on. lol, I do it too).
There has been tons of anecdotal evidence that those channels that produced any kind of LGBTQ+ content would immediately have a black mark or the dreaded Yellow Dollar Sign. It didn't matter if the creator was talking about, for example, support for coming out, videos on safe sex (not sexual content but stuff like condoms, etc.) or discussions of gay marriage and had nothing adult in those topics, more than anything else. It didn't matter. If the words "gay" or "lesbian" or "trans" appeared anywhere, that content was immediately flagged by the AI, demonitized and suppressed from the recommendations. See Rogue Rocket.
But YouTube executives claimed otherwise...
In the above videos, various YouTube officers claimed that there was no list of words that would lead to automatic demonitization, especially for LGBTQ+ content. Cross their hearts and hope to die. But then several YouTube creators decided to test whether the anecdotal experiences were correct or the YoutTube officers were....
Or were speaking legalese or in a way to obscure the actual truth, which can be summed up by the following simple example:
The words "GAY" and "HOMOSEXUAL" were always demonitized, while the words "STRAIGHT" and "HETEROSEXUAL" were always monetized.
There is literally a list of words these creators managed to test and could say without doubt would lead to demonitization on YouTube and many of them target LGTBQ+ content.
It's just a reminder that the fight for acceptance is really hardly over.
I know I am guilty of this, which is a sort of wishful thinking that LGBTQ+ people and content being accepted is the NORM, at least among these companies that tout how LBGTQ+ friendly they appear to be on the surface. Yet the truth is that many of these companies will suppress or outright ban content that should be completely inline with their positive stance on LGBTQ+ content. Yet they do this because they care far more about their bottom line than actually putting their money where their mouth is. Don't want to offend those advertisers that might NOT put those floats in the Pride Parade, right, YouTube?
Kat and I have ample personal experience with advertising Raythe Reign and prejudice. Simply the use of the word "gay" would get our advertisements on Google (who is also owned by the same company as YouTube) classified as "non-family friendly" despite the fact that we restricted our audience to those 25 years or older. It didn't matter. The ad with the word "gay" would not be shown.
We had many people who didn't believe us (despite screen shots where the ad with the word "gay" was not approved while the exact same ad without the word "gay" was). And the reason was that Google was so forward thinking! It was LGBTQ+ friendly! Hadn't we seen all of their advertisements with rainbow flags and the floats????!!!!! We were mistaken!
Except we weren't.
And the creators on YouTube who knew their videos were automatically being suppressed and demonitized because they contained the word "gay" were right, too.
And that we all have to remember that words are cheap in many ways. Actions are what counts.
Are you guys surprised by this? Or is this par for the course in your opinion?
Your post is all true. It is hard to remember that the LGBTQ+ community isn't as accepted to the point of normal. A lot of places are outright hostile. So there's still a LONG way to go to acceptance. But this raises a lot of questions for me, I guess: what do we do about it? As indivuals? As a community? I will of course write to YouTube and yell at them but one person isn't enough. What organizations out there would be good to work through to move YouTube forward?
After these videos came out (and it was about 3 weeks ago, I knew about it then but wanted to see YouTube's response) YouTube's twitter account said they would look into it. I've heard nothing since.
As to what we can do. Watch and share those videos. Tweet at YouTube regarding their response to the allegations therein.
Saying we're going to boycott YouTube/Google is not going to work or happen. But keeping the fact that their wokeness is truly just virtue signalling with no substance is hitting them where it hurts.
I agree—I think the bottom line for a lot of companies is money, no matter how progressive it touts itself. And unless they get called out in a loud, embarrassing manner, they will continue on until they get caught. The silver lining is that the people at the top of a lot of these companies (and board members) are getting OLD and will hopefully be replaced with younger, more accepting people soon
Getting called out in a loud, embarrassing manner works. They've hidden behind these claims that the YouTubers were all paranoid basically, gaslighting people essentially, until people literally put out their proof that yes, your AI is targeting these words and these groups and if you honestly didn't know, why the hell didn't you? Where are the guards at the asylum essentially.
I don't think it's a question of the exec's age (Zuckerberg does such shitty things, right?) but more the corporate need to please stockholders at all cost even against the corporate soul. Think what Blizzard has done regarding Hong Kong. I fear it is the type of person who rises in these companies that allows this to go on.
I often say that I'm lucky, I'm lucky to be born in the Era that I was, to have grown up in the counties I did and born to the parents I have. If not for these factors my life as an ace/homoromanic would have been a lot harder. I find it insulting that companies can on one hand show support to the LGBT community, especially around pride, while in day to day life they po the exact opposite. I would love for companies to do as they preach, or at least be honest about it when they don't. It's an insult to the community they swear they support and a hinderence for those of us who need that support.
And this is what is making me so angry. Because YouTube and Google HIDES behind its outward support for LGBTQ+ matters (it would literally tout these same creators that it routinely demonitizes on its videos to support gay pride month and has in fact now been sued by those creators) while behind the scenes it is doing damage to those same people. If you want to claim you are a voice for gay rights then why the hell are you demonitizing creators that are making videos to help kids to come out? Or discussions about safe sex? Or talking about depression? Or the benefits of gay marriage?
When Kat and I had proof that Google has a "bad word list" a lot of people didn't believe us b/c of the virtue signaling that Google always does in regards to LGBTQ+ community. We had hard proof and yet... no! So it is of value for these companies to talk a certain way in those countries that have these progressive views, but the truth is they may be doing harm to that same community with its policies.
I must say that I can't stand companies using pride/other minorities to give themselves a boost. This year hear we had so many floats signed up for the parade that they had to cut some of them and it's was the last ones signed up who were fist proposed as cut, the problem then became that it was companies who would them be the majority of the walkers in the parade, we are currently considering banning companies in the parade so long as they don't do a significant amount for the local LGBT community.
I think what you're considering is really powerful. They don't get to cloak themselves in a rainbow flag and then basically screw us over monetarily.
This does not shock me, it saddens and angers me, and makes me not want to use You tube for anything. But then I think most corporate America only pays lip service to support of GLTBQ+ or any other social issue for that matter. Working in management of Fortune 500 corporate America for years I can tell you most corporate support has nothing to do with any intrinsic philosophical or moral values.
Corporations are by their very nature amoral. I am not saying they are immoral but the primary and for most corporate entities the singular concern driving their corporate behavior is financial. The reason they do not pollute is because it will be financially detrimental to the company to do so, not because they want to preserve the environment. Then same thing goes for support of social issues. They spend a portion of their advertising dollars is support of GLTBQ+/social issues because they believe this will give the company a financial return by bringing in money from that community and its supporters and attract they quality employees they need to get ahead of their competition. Most companies do not spend this money because they want to help anyone. It is simply a case of, if we spend x dollars on this cause it will help our bottom line more than we have spent in this issue.
Corporations by and large do not push social issues, they follow behind the community, rallying to issues the community has embraced in attempt to add money to the companies bottom line, not because it is the, “right” thing to do. When it comes to promoting employees beyond a certain point, or not allowing/condoning homophobia between managers and their employees or co-workers most companies are interested in protecting themselves from litigation and everything else is lip service, something they believe they have to say but haven’t embraced as something morally vital. At the senior level of many corporate companies there is still outright hostility to anyone who is not a straight white man from the right family and school background.
I don’t know what the answer to this problem is other than trying to build more community support. Unless it is financially detrimental to companies they will continue to fail to support and outright disenfranchise our community and it’s supporters.
This is a really good explanation of corporate thought. And a very depressing one. Thinking about it now, I can see how the ad spend on LGBTQ+ people and issues is to appeal to certain customers and make them feel X company has the same values as me! I should buy their product! And by having their product I am virtue-signaling what I believe too!
Thanks for the insight.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t support those companies, our support/lack of support is the only real way we have of driving and changing corporate behavior. I just believe we need to be realistic about why they are showing support and not be disappointed when they don’t show leadership.
Im dissapointed but not suprised. I think there is a general attitude much larger than these companies that is like "well if we say we support queer folks, then they wont fight so hard for their rights, and we can keep on with our white cis hetero patriarchy without further interference." So many times when i am advocating for myself im told that im being dramatic, or im asking for special priveleges, and all thanks to this posturing about how liberation has already happened! It's how our messed up system protects itself, you see how they pretend racism is over while blackfolks are still enduring intense violence and poverty.
I think the knowledge that you AREN'T being dramatic, that things are over and done and all hunky dory is so important. It's like people saying that the US (of which I am one) had elected a black president so there's no racism! Or that sexism had nothing to do with how Hillary Clinton was treated (or any other female politician for that matter). It's like who do you believe me or your lying eyes?
I remember writing a piece on how Amazon by "allowing" m/m books to be sold doesn't mean that there isn't censorship going on by them and others. I had this commenter telling me (again, I had proof) that I must not go on Amazon that often because there were PLENTY of gay books there so CLEARLY I must be mistaken about any censorship. We'd won the fight, right? Headdesk.
(Headdesk, LOL dont hurt yourself over societal stupiditiy)
Oh jeeze im glad you saidthat about amazon! Ive been working on an ebook with the intention of publishing through amazon but its very very very queer! Ill have to see if i can fly under their radar or pursue other publishing methods! (Is amazon censorship the reaon you publish through this website?)
RR actually started the same year that KDP (and it wasn't even called that) started up. So the idea of self-publishing on Amazon hadn't percolated up. Afterwards though, yes, I realized how lucky I was to have my own platform b/c otherwise, The Erl-King, The Fell, and Valkyrie would not exist. Oh, and forget about selling the sexy manga in ebook form!
Basically, other companies can get up to a lot of fuckery while obscuring what they are truly doing. They used to (and still do) dungeon books on Amazon for example. You don't know it but your books won't show up in searches or best seller lists b/c Amazon has determined that its just not the sort of book they want people to fine (yet you can find dildos with no problem!). They once categorized ALL gay stories as porn and shunted them to the dungeon. That was fun. I had to object a dozen times for the Dark Earth being dungeoned even though we went by Amazon's overly restrictive TOS (but its their platform so they can sell what they want!).
There's a list now in the erotica world which will tell you what types of contents will get dungeoned or outright get you banned. Incest is one of them. So just do searches on that, join groups. I'm very careful what I put up on Amazon these days to make sure I don't come close to those undisclosed lines. But Amazon can and does simply censure gay content no matter if it is hold hands or a kiss on the cheek. So just be aware of that.
Thanks! Jeeze! Well i guess ive been meaning to biuld a website for a while now so this is as good a reason as any to make that happen! Im glad i stumbled upon Dragons Reign on youtube! Your site is an inspiration and i hope i can make something just as cool someday!
Arcadia! I didn't mean to scare you. The best way (and most efficient) to reach readers is on Amazon. Don't think you have to create a website (there are good reasons to but not in the beginning). Basically, find out the rules no incest or beastiality and you SHOULD be ok. I don't want to scare you off of Amazon b/c you can make a good beginning there.
My automatic assumption is that Youtube is catering to advertisers who market to the majority of people in this country. The majority in this country who also have money to spend are still white, straight, and christian. Youtube and advertisers I'm sure have algorithms and statistics that point to what content to aim for in order to gain the biggest bucks. If this is true, it is a good look at majority opinion in the USA and evidence that the fight isn't over. (This hypothosis doesn't even include the political and moral adgendas of those holding the purse strings.)
To me as disgusting as a belief would be that homosexuality is wrong, etc., its YouTube portraying itself as a friend to LGBTQ+ people and ideals (which would make them already non-friendly to those people you mentioned) while suppressing content of the same sort it espouses. If you watch to the end of the Nerd City vid, its clear that Coke, for example, is tracking the person, not the content its playing on, namely, Coke already knows that person likes soft drinks, so its irrelevant if they are watching gay content, all Coke really wants is to remind them that its products are out there.