LGBTQ+ YouTubers sue Google – CNET


YouTube is being sued by LGBTQ+ users.

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A group of LGBTQ+ YouTubers are suing Google for YouTube’s alleged treatment of their videos. Announced in a video posted to YouTube Wednesday, the class-action lawsuit alleges discrimination, unlawful restraint of speech, unfair and deceptive business practices and breach of consumer contract rights.

Video demonetization — or removing the advertising from a video — has been debated among YouTubers for years. Drawing further ire from the LGBTQ+ community, the company in June made a controversial decision not to take down a prominent user’s channel hurling homophobic slurs at a journalist who is gay. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki ended up apologizing at the time.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in the US District Court Northern District of California, San Jose Division, alleges “YouTube was never a truly free and open platform” for free speech. The lawsuit is being brought by Divino Group, Chris Knight, Celso Dulay, Cameron Stiehl, BriaAndChrissy, Bria Kam, Chrissy Chambers, Chase Ross, Brett Somers and Lindsay Amer.

They allege since 2016, YouTube and Google have controlled, restricted, regulated and “manipulated” video content and viewership based on the companies’ own dislike or bias of YouTubers and their audiences.

“[Google and YouTube] brand LGBTQ+ content as ‘shocking,’ ‘offensive,’ and/or ‘sexually explicit’ not because of the video’s content, but either because the viewpoints expressed involve what a senior Google/YouTube content curator dubbed the ‘gay thing,’ or because the content was posted by or viewed by YouTube Community members who identify as ‘gay,'” the lawsuit alleges.

“LGBTQ+ users … are now being subjected to unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBTQ+ Plaintiffs and the greater LGBTQ+ Community.”

“They flagged our pride,” one YouTuber alleges in the video announcement. “They did not allow us to buy ads. They restricted us, they demonetized us and they did not stand up for us.”

“They broke their promise for a platform of free speech,” another alleges.

Another YouTuber alleges YouTube and Google “blatantly” discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community.

Google and the group behind the lawsuit didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.