YouTube is being sued by LGBTQ+ users.

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Get­ty Images

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.

Tags Mobile Cul­ture Appli­ca­tions Mobile Apps Pol­i­tics Online Inter­net Ser­vices Legal Google YouTube

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