SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A group of LGBTQ content creators is suing YouTube and its parent company Google, alleging YouTube unfairly designates queer content as “sexually explicit,” “shocking” and/or “offensive” and limits its reach, while at the same time allowing LGBTQ hate speech to thrive on the platform.

The class-action suit by eight YouTube video producers claims the video sharing site uses “unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBT Plaintiffs and the greater LGBT Community.”

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The lawsuit also claims YouTube’s algorithmic and human moderators unfairly suppress videos with words such as “gay,” “bisexual,” or “transgender” in the title, and that company policies prohibit LGTBQ+ users from advertising their content solely because the users identify as “gay” or LGBTQ+.

The lawsuit states: “In the exercise of that discretion, Defendants 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.’

Meanwhile, according to the lawsuit, at the same time that YouTube discriminates against LGTBQ+ users and content, it also promotes and profits from content that is violent, obscene and threatening toward both the plaintiffs and the LGBTQ+ community.

The online bullying and hate speech on the YouTube platform in the form of videos and comments on videos is in direct violation of the company’s Community Guidelines and monetization rules, the lawsuit says.

“YouTube is engaged in discriminatory, anticompetitive, and unlawful conduct that harms a protected class of persons under California law,” the lawsuit states.

It alleges that YouTube’s actions have violated federal and California laws around speech, discrimination, and false advertising.

“Defendants are engaged in a discriminatory and fraudulent scheme to profit from the unlawful and fraudulent regulation of speech on the platform in which compliant and quality LGBTQ+ content is restrained and demonetized, while vile and dangerous homophobic hate speech is monetized and promoted to further Google/YouTube’s corporate profits and market power.”

The content creators explained their decision to file a lawsuit in a YouTube video.

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