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Creators File Lawsuit Against YouTube Over Alleged LGBTQ+ Discrimination

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  • A group of LGBTQ+ creators have filed a lawsuit against YouTube and Google claiming that YouTube flags, suppresses, and demonetizes LGBTQ+ videos.
  • The lawsuit claims YouTube restricts content featuring certain LGBTQ+ tags such as “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “transgender.”
  • YouTube has denied such claims in the past but has not responded specifically to the lawsuit. 

The Lawsuit Against YouTube and Google

Several LGBTQ+ creators are suing YouTube and its parent company Google for allegedly discriminating against LGBTQ+ content on YouTube. 

Among the accusations, the creators claim YouTube restricts recommendations, demonetizes, and alters the thumbnails of LGBTQ+ videos. 

Creators Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers of BriaAndChrissy, Amp Somers of Watts The Safeword, Chase Ross, Linsday Amer, Chris Knight, Celso Dulay, and Cameron Stiehl all filed the class-action lawsuit Tuesday in San Jose, California.

“Our LGBTQ+ content is being demonetized, restricted, and not sent out to viewers which has highly affected our ability to reach the community we strongly want to help,” Chambers said in a video posted the same day.

In the suit, Kam and Chambers argue that their channel previously earned about $3,500 each month but now only generates about $400-500 monthly. 

After posting a music video called “Face Your Fears,” Kam and Chambers said the video was categorized under “restricted mode.” The video was filmed as a dedication to the 2016 Orlando Pulse Shooting, and it features Bria and Chrissy kissing in front of anti-gay protesters.

“They flagged our pride,” YouTuber Chase Ross said. “They did not allow us to buy ads. They restricted us, they demonetized us, and they did not stand up for us.” 

Last year, Ross, who often posts about trans issues, accused YouTube of age-gating his videos for including the word “transgender” in the titles.

Growing up, I was in a very religious household,” said Amp Somers of the sex education channel Watts The Safeword. “I didn’t get any sort of gay education, alone queer education, that applied to me and the sex I was going to have. I created content on the internet that I wish I would have had growing up, but we’re finding it harder and harder to create content on this platform. Google and YouTube continue to censor us and tell us that we’re not breaking any rules but that our content is still not allowed and going to be restricted on this platform.” 

YouTube Content Selection and Enforcement

The creators also claim YouTube is restricting LGBTQ+ content featuring words like  “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” or “queer.” Notably, YouTube does not publish its algorithm, which can make it hard to tell if your content is actually being suppressed. 

While a YouTube spokesperson replied with “no comment” to the lawsuit, YouTube has denied similar claims in the past. Last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki pushed back against claims that videos are demonetized for falling under LGBTQ+ categories.

In an interview with vlogger Alfie Deyes, she said, “We do not automatically demonetize LGBTQ content… We work incredibly hard to make sure that our systems are fair.”

She also said YouTube does not have a policy to demonetize a video if it has a certain word in the title, and said both the process for recommending videos and determining ads are independent of each other.

On Wednesday morning, after news of the lawsuit spread, Wojcicki posted Deyes’ Aug. 4 video on Twitter, though it’s unclear if the timing is related.

Another part of the lawsuit says because YouTube is the largest video streaming website, it holds a near-monopoly.

The suit states YouTube “used their monopoly power over content regulation to selectively apply their rules and restrictions in a manner that allowed them to gain an unfair advantage to profit from their own content to the detriment of its consumers.”

The creators use the argument to claim YouTube “goes easy” on some of its biggest creators and cite content from James Charles, an issue that has also been raised in the past with YouTubers like Logan Paul and Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie.

“[YouTube] continue[s] to restrain the innocuous travel videos of Watts The Safeword under its Restricted Mode, age restrictions, and demonetization rules and practices, while allowing objectively and sexually explicit content that Google/YouTube sponsor and/or profit from to run unrestricted on the YouTube platform,” the suit alleges.

It continues by citing examples from a recent video on the beauty YouTuber’s channel showing him wearing a G-string and spanking a woman’s bare butt while at Coachella.

Even though Watts The Safeword features more mature content, the channel says it personally applies the restricted mode filter to its more sexually explicit videos. 

According to the Washington Post, “eleven current and past moderators, who have worked on the front lines of content decisions, believe that popular creators often get special treatment in the form of looser interpretations of YouTube’s guidelines prohibiting demeaning speech, bullying and other forms of graphic content.”

YouTube has also denied those claims.

Response

Following this lawsuit, many online said they were standing with the creators suing YouTube and Google.

Some on Twitter even shared their own experiences trying to generate LGBTQ+ content on YouTube.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Washington Post) (Business Insider)

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Too Faced Co-Founder Condemns Sister’s Post Calling NikkieTutorials a Liar After Coming Out as Transgender

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  • Massive Beauty YouTuber NikkieTutorials came out as transgender in a new video that has been received with widespread praise.
  • However, fans were upset to learn that she was pushed to share her story after unnamed people threatened to leak the information to the press.
  • Too Faced Cosmetics then came under scrutiny when the cofounder’s sister made a snide comment about NikkieTutorials being a liar, continuing a long-running feud between the brand and beauty guru. 
  • The brand co-founder issued a statement condemning his sister’s behavior and said she is no longer employed by Too Faced.

Too Faced Apologizes

Too Faced Cosmetics co-founder Jerrod Blandino apologized Tuesday for his sister Lisa who called beauty YouTuber NikkieTutorials a liar hours after she came out as transgender.

“I would like to make sure it is understood that although I love my sister very much, the things she says or does have absolutely nothing to do with me and do not in any way reflect me, my opinions, thoughts, or feelings nor speak for me or Too Faced in any way shape or form,” Blandino wrote in a post on Instagram stories.

“I am sorry for the hurt she has caused…I do not tolerate this behavior and she is no longer an employee of Too Faced,” he added before expressing how proud he was of NikkieTutorials for sharing her truth.

His post was later shared across the brand’s official social media accounts.

“I’m Coming Out” 

The backlash against Too Faced came shortly after Nikkie de Jager, better known as NikkieTutorials, came out as transgender in an emotional 17-minute video posted Monday.

“I can’t believe I am saying this today to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn it feels good to finally do it. It’s time to let go and be truly free,” de Jager said in the video titled “I’m Coming Out.”

“When I was younger I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender,” she continued. 

The 25-year-old from the Netherlands, who has been posting on YouTube for 11 years, opened up about her childhood, explaining that she identified as female for as long as she can remember and began transitioning at a young age with the support of her mother.

De Jager said she had grown her hair out at the age of 6 and was wearing only girls clothing a year or two later. She started hormone treatments and growth stoppers at 14-years-old and “fully transitioned” by the age of 19. 

“I transitioned while on YouTube,” the beauty guru said. “And saying that right now seems so crazy to me because I have literally grown up and transformed into me in front of all of you.”

De Jager, one of YouTube’s top beauty creators who has amassed over 12 million subscribers, said she kept her story private for so long because she wanted to live free of labels and wanted her channel to focus on her art. 

However, she wanted to assure her fans that she is the same person they have loved and supported for years. “I am me. I am still Nikkie. Nothing changes about that,” she said. “The last thing I want in my life is for you to not trust me anymore, or to look at me with different eyes, or look at me in a different manner, or think that I have changed.”

Blackmail Attempt

While de Jager explained that she has always wanted to share her story with her audience, she admitted that she was doing so now after someone had threatened to pubically out her. 

“So today, I am taking back my own power and I have to tell you something,” she said before making her announcement.

Without ever naming who was behind the blackmail attempt, de Jager talked more about how it made her feel. 

“I have been blackmailed by people that wanted to leak my story to the press,” she said. “And at first it was frightening to know that there are people out there that are so evil that they can’t respect someone’s true identity. It is vile. It is gross and I know you are watching this.”

She claimed that those blackmailing her wanted to leak her story because they said she is lying and “too scared” to tell people who she really is. 

“I’m not scared,” she said directly to the camera before holding her middle finger up to the people who, “thought they could really mess up my life with that.” 

Praise from Fans 

De Jager’s announcement was met with widespread support from celebs, fans, and fellow YouTubers, many of whom were outraged at the fact that someone else had tried to leak her story.

Lisa Blandino Sparks Outrage

However, not everyone was supportive of the beauty guru. Twitter users and YouTube drama channels ready to defend de Jager against hate screenshotted a snide comment allegedly made by Lisa Blandino.

The screenshots showed that on her Instagram account @makupprincess, under the name Dani California, she changed her bio to: “Transgender huh? That’s not the only thing she’s been LYING about.”

Image
Source: @makupprincess

The comment appeared to signal a continuation of the long-running feud between the beauty star and Too Faced Cosmetics. 

In Shane Dawson’s docuseries about his collaboration with Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Star once again accused Too Faced of massively underpaying de Jager for her 2016 makeup collaboration with them. According to Star, she received a $50,000 flat fee for a palette that brought them in over $10 million.

While de Jagger has not openly discussed much about her profits on the palette, she has previously mentioned frustrations over the quality of the product.

After screenshots of Blandino’s comment spread across the internet, many became upset that someone would take such a sensitive moment as an opportunity to tear de Jager down and felt that regardless of any feud, the comment was insensitive.

Enraged social media users began calling Too Faced disgusting and transphobic and soon after, the @makupprincess account changed its bio to read: “Let’s be clear, I love trans people & dislike anyone who lies to hurt others! Period!”

Source: @makupprincess

The comment further enraged internet users went on to call for a boycott of the brand. Some even accused Too Faced of possibly being responsible for blackmailing de Jagger.

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (Insider) (E! News)

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Two of YouTube’s Highest Earners Are Kids

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  • Forbes released its annual list of top-earning YouTubers, placing 8-year-old Ryan Kaji at the top spot with $26 million and 5-year-old Nastya Radzinskaya at No. 3 with $18 million. 
  • The stars have brought new attention to the popularity of kids’ content on the platform just ahead of new policy changes that will impact ad revenue for it. 
  • Several familiar faces were also on the list, including Pewdiepie and Dude Perfect, however many were surprised to see Jake and Logan Paul edged out of the top 10.

Kids Earn Big 

Two of YouTuber’s highest-earning creators of 2019 are under the age of 10, according to the annual YouTube creator estimates from Forbes. 

8-year-old Ryan Kaji, star of the massively popular YouTube channel Ryan’s World (formerly Ryan ToysReview) earned himself the top spot for the second year in a row with an estimated $26 million, based on pretax figures from June 2018-June 2019. That’s a jump from the $22 million that put him at the top of last year’s list.

The second-biggest earner of the year is Dude Perfect, the sports entertainment group known for various trick shots, stunts, and battle videos. 

But 5-year-old Anastasia Radzinskaya is one creator on the list who is arguably turning the most heads. Radzinskaya, who moved to the U.S. from Russia in 2018, was born with cerebral palsy and doctors feared she might never be able to speak. To document her development through treatments, her parents decided to post videos of her so friends and family could watch her progress.

The videos started off as fairly ordinary child experiences like playdates with her dad or her pet cat, but she quickly gained a following from internet users all over the globe. Radzinskaya, who goes by Nastya or Stacy, now has a total of 107 million subscribers across her six different channels. Her most popular one, “Like Nastya Vlog” has 42 million alone. 

Nastya’s impressive following helped her bring in six-figure deals with brands like Legoland and Dannon, according to Forbes. Now she sits at No. 3 on their list with a whopping $18 million. 

Creators like Nastya and Ryan have opened people’s eyes to just how huge children’s content is on YouTube. Eyal Baumel, CEO of Yoola, a management company that specializes in digital stars including Nastya told Forbes, “YouTube is the most popular babysitter in the world.”

According to a Pew Research Center study done this year, videos with kids in them average almost three times as many views as other types of videos from high-subscriber channels. A separate study showed that 81% of parents with kids under 11 let them watch YouTube.

These young internet superstars, their parents, and the teams that represent them have made sure that their popularity transcends YouTube. Ryan for instance now has his own line of branded toys, clothing, and home goods that you can easily find at Target, Walmart, and Amazon. He also landed his own TV show on Nickelodeon and has a deal with Hulu to repackage his videos.

Nastya too will soon be launching a line of toys, a mobile game, and a book. 

Plans to expand to platforms outside of YouTube is probably a great idea of these child stars, especially as the potential for massive earnings on YouTube changes. In September, YouTube announced that it would be changing the way it displays ads on children’s content. 

The changes are meant to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act after the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James accused YouTube of illegally collecting personal information from children to show them targeted ads.

YouTube said it will remove personalized ads on kids’ content starting next year, but now many creators are worried that, along with their income, the changes could also impact other factors, like search results and recommendations. Others feel the FTC has not been specific enough about what YouTube should consider child-directed content and are worried about the future of their content. 

Who Else Made the List? 

As far as the remaining top earners, the list includes a comedy duo, several gamers, and one beauty mogul. Here are the remaining creators who made the top 10. 

  • #4 Rhett and Link – $17.5 million
  • #5 Jeffree Star: $17 million
  • #6 Preston (Preston Arsement) $14 million
  • #7 (tie) Pewdiepie (Felix Kjellberg)  $13 million
  • #7 (tie) Markiplier (Mark Fischbach) $13 million 
  • #9 DanTDM (Daniel Middleton) $12 million 
  • #10 VanossGaming (Evan Fong) $11.5 million 

As some have pointed out, Jake and Logan Paul are notably not on this year’s list, both of whom made last year’s top 10. Jake’s absence was particularly surprising since the YouTuber held the No. 2 spot in 2018 with $21.5 million while his brother placed 10th with $14.5 million. 

However, the Paul brothers have earned themselves a reputation for controversy and both stopped daily vlogging in mid-2018 to pursue other projects, so that likely had a huge impact on their annual YouTube revenue. 

See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Variety) (BBC)

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Internet Reacts to Tana Mongeau Winning ‘Creator of the Year’ at the 2019 Streamy Awards

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  • Tana Mongeau beat out big creators like MrBeast and David Dobrik for the honor of “Creator of the Year” at this year’s Streamy Awards. 
  • Some, including YouTubers Peter Monn and Ethan Klien. were upset by the news and suggested that others were more deserving.
  • Others noted that the category is fan-voted and slammed critics for trying to discredit her win.

2019 Creator of the Year

YouTuber Tana Mongeau took home the coveted “Creator of the Year” award at Friday night’s Streamy’s ceremony to the surprise of many internet users and even Mongeau herself. 

The massive internet stars Mongeau beat out for the honor included Colins Key, David Dobrik, Emma Chamberlain, Lilly Singh, Loren Gray, MrBeast, Ninja, Safiya Nygaard, and Simply Nailogical.

“I don’t want to make a big deal out of this but it is not, it is not Davik Dobrik,”  fellow YouTuber Casey Neistat said before announcing the winner. 

“I’m sorry David, but you’ve won like every award tonight. It’s only fair,” Neitstat said to Dobrik, who had already picked up three Streamys for best First Person, Ensemble Cast (The Vlog Squad), and Collaboration (for a video with Kylie Jenner.)

“Give it to Tana,” Dobrik said before Neitstant confirmed that she was indeed the winner. 

Mongeau seemed completely shocked by the news. “I don’t feel like ‘Creator of the Year.’ I’ve never felt like ‘Creator of the Year.’ I feel like the misfit, the outcast, the fuck up. All of those things,” she said during her acceptance speech.

Just one year ago, Mongeau accepted the honor on behalf of Shane Dawson, who received widespread praise for his multi-part docuseries “The Truth About Tanacon,” Mongeau’s failed convention that hoped to rival Vidcon. 

“I think we can all agree this is the only time I’ll ever be holding a ‘Creator of the Year’ award,” she said at last year’s ceremony. 

Mongeau used this year’s full circle moment to thank Dawson. “I really just want to say thank you to the only people who saved my life and got me here and that is my fans and Shane Dawson.” 

“I never thought this would happen,” she added. “Here’s to all the people who don’t feel like ‘Creator of the Year,” she said while raising her Streamy in the air. 

Internet Reacts

Though Mongeau was met with cheers and applause at the ceremony, many internet users appeared to be upset by the news. 

While some were surprised that Dobrik did not take home the award, others felt the Streamy should have gone to MrBeast, who has recently made headlines for his massive campaign to plant 20 million trees around the globe. 

Popular drama YouTuber Peter Monn tweeted, “Mr Beast starts a project to plant 20,000,000 trees to help save the environment. Tana Mongeau has a failed MTV series & gets fake married and wins Creator of the Year. The Streamys are an absolute joke.”

Ethan Klien, of h3h3 productions, tweeted and deleted a sarcastic congratulatory post to Mongeau. “Thank you for being outrageously yourself and a positive role model for young people everywhere,” he wrote alongside two photos to suggest that Mongeau heavily edits her social media photos. 

Klien used the same side by side photos in a controversial video he made earlier this year about faking perfection online. “Well deserved!” he added in another post before removing the comparison photo.

But the most common question people had about Mongeau’s win was: “How?” 

Fan-Voted Award 

It’s not too surprising that many were outraged by Mongeau receiving the Streamy since she has been criticized as a bad influence on children and faced backlash over Tanacon, using the n-word, and charging her subscribers to watch the live steam of her wedding with Jake Paul, among other controversies.

However, many also noted that “Creator of the Year’ falls under the Audience Choice category, meaning that the award is fan-voted.

Many of her fans came to her defense online against those who felt she was undeserving.

“I wouldn’t discredit your favorite creator if they were the one that won, so please STOP discrediting mine & the rest of the fans that voted for tana,” one user tweeted. 

“@tanamongeau won because us, her fans, whose lives SHE impacted, voted for her. If you’re mad ur fav didn’t win why didn’t you vote? Stop saying she didn’t deserve to win when she won fair and square,” another wrote. 

Retweets and stand-alone tweets with a creator’s hashtag counted as votes for the category. According to Insider, Mongeau heavily campaigned for herself, unlike her competitors. If you look at the Streamy’s tweets for the nominees, posts for Mongeau have far more engagement in comparison to her competition. 

For instance, a post for Mongeau gathered over 2,000 retweets, while a similar one for MrBeast earned just over 100.

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Indy100) (ET Online)

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