YouTube has said it will not shutdown the channel of YouTuber Steven Crowder despite his repeated homophobic slurs aimed at Vox writer and host, Carlos Maza.
Maza claims that Crowder, who has more than 3.8 million YouTube subscribers, routinely makes derogatory comments about his sexuality and ethnicity. Whenever Maza publishes an instalment in his YouTube series, Strikethrough, Crowder releases a response video debunking Maza’s content.
In his videos, Crowder mocks his rival YouTuber’s accent and sexuality, labelling him a “lispy queer”, “a gay Vox sprite” and a “gay Mexican”. Crowder responded saying his insults were merely “friendly ribbing”.
In a response video, Crowder commented: “It’s funny and this is a comedy show. ‘Lispy queer’ is harmless and I enjoy saying it.” Due to mounting levels of abuse, Maza asked YouTube to intervene.
“These videos get millions of views on YouTube. Every time one gets posted, I wake up to a wall of homophobic/racists abuse on Instagram and Twitter,” Maza said in a tweet. “These videos make me a target of ridiculous harassment,” he added.
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After an “in-depth review”, YouTube responded saying: “Our teams spent the last few days conducting an in-depth review of the videos flagged to us, and while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies.
“As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone – from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts – to express their opinions within the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.
“Even if a video remains on our site, it doesn’t mean we endorse/support that viewpoint.”
The company’s response has provoked a mixed reaction with many saying the feud is a battle over free speech. Crowder said the row was “an example of a giant corporate media entity [Vox] trying to silence voices they do not like”.
Others have argued that if YouTube accepted the videos were hurtful but failed to act, it was not enforcing its own policies.
YouTube rules prohibit content that:
- is deliberately posted in order to humiliate someone
- makes hurtful and negative personal comments about another person
The company countered this saying that Crowder’s comments did not violate its policies because they were used in the context of “debate”.
Maza has accused the site, which is currently displaying rainbow flags in honour of gay pride month, of “exploiting” LGBT people.
“If you’re an LGBT creator, @YouTube is using you. They’re trotting you out to convince advertisers that their platform hasn’t become a breeding ground for hate speech and bigotry. They’re hoping you’ll distract advertisers away from the monsters they’re creating,” he tweeted.
“It’s going to get so much worse now. YouTube has publicly stated that racist and homophobic abuse doesn’t violate their anti-bullying policies.”