YouTube sued for allegedly discriminating against LGBTQ community

YouTube and its parent company Google are being sued by several LGBTQ social media stars, who allege the company discriminated against them when it restricte...

Posted: Aug 15, 2019 3:47 PM

YouTube and its parent company Google are being sued by several LGBTQ social media stars, who allege the company discriminated against them when it restricted their content from making money and limited its distribution.

The lawsuit, filed late Tuesday in a federal court in California, claims LGBTQ users are 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."

Creators can earn money directly from the ads running on their videos but in recent years, some LGBTQ people have expressed concern about their videos being cut off from earning ad revenue and becoming age restricted. When a video is age restricted, it won't be seen by users under 18 and creators can't make money from it. Those videos also can be harder for new viewers to find.

Alex Joseph, a spokesperson for YouTube, told CNN Business in a statement that all content on its site is subject to the same policies.

"Our policies have no notion of sexual orientation or gender identity and our systems do not restrict or demonetize videos based on these factors or the inclusion of terms like 'gay' or 'transgender,'" he said.

Peter Obstler, a partner at law firm Browne George Ross who is the lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the suit, said YouTube is "essential" for his clients to get their message and content out.

"We understand there needs to be regulation and we understand there needs to be content-based curation, but it has to be consistent," Obstler said.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include YouTube creators Bria Kam, Chrissy Chambers, Chase Ross, Brett Somers and Lindsay Amer, and a company that produces an LGBTQ news show called "GNews!" that claims it submitted an ad, which YouTube said wasn't allowed to run. The lawsuit is seeking class-action status.

The lawsuit also claims YouTube denied an LGBTQ news show the right to advertise and thereby increase its viewership on the platform. According to the lawsuit, Divino Group — the company behind GlitterBombTV.com's "GNews!" show — was not allowed to run an ad to promote a Christmas holiday video.

Divino escalated the situation to a customer service employee, according to the suit.

"A person identified as an 'expert' and senior supervisor, expressly informed the consumer that the ad was being denied because the video it was promoting contained 'shocking' and 'sexually explicit' content solely because the consumer was 'gay' and that 'company policy' deemed LGBTQ+ content as shocking and 'sexually explicit,'" the lawsuit states.

In an audio recording of the Google AdSense customer service exchange obtained by CNN Business from the plaintiffs' lawyer Obstler, the representative tells Divino the major reason the ad was disapproved was "because of the gay thing."

According to the lawsuit, YouTube apologized to Divino for what they said was a "misunderstanding" and eventually agreed to run the ad. However, this happened more than three weeks after the Christmas holiday had passed.

The law firm behind the lawsuit is also involved in a separate case against YouTube in which a conservative group, PragerU, claims the platform unlawfully censored its educational videos. The first version of the lawsuit was thrown out by a judge last year. YouTube declined to comment.

Tensions between YouTube and some members of the LGBTQ community have repeatedly surfaced in recent years.

Earlier this year, transgender creators on YouTube expressed concern to CNN Business that some of their trans-related content, such as sexual education videos, have been limited from making ad money or made age restricted. Many said they're frustrated with YouTube's lack of transparency around why their videos are being demonetized.

At the time, YouTube told CNN Business: "We're proud of the incredible LGBTQ+ voices on our platform and take concerns like these very seriously."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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