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Nerd City & Other Creators Call Out YouTube Bots for Demonetizing LGBTQ+ Content

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  • A group of YouTubers said they have worked since June to compile evidence that certain words or phrases within video titles lead to automatic demonetization by the platform’s machine learning program.
  • As a result, those YouTubers also claim the platform’s bots are routinely demonetizing LGBTQ+ content.
  • A day after the videos documenting this evidence were posted, YouTube directly responded to them and said that “the right teams are reviewing your concerns in detail,” also promising to follow up on the claims.

YouTubers Create Monetization/Demonetization Word List

In a series of videos released Sunday, a group of YouTubers detailed 15,000 keywords that they tested against YouTube bots and claimed many of those words—including some LGBTQ+ terms—lead to automatic demonetization.

Particularly, the project looks at those keywords and determines whether or not each caused a video to be demonetized when used in the title of a video. The research, which was conducted from June to July, was a collaboration between creators Nerd City, YouTube Analyzed(who does not work for YouTube), and Sealow. 

“Robot law enforcement on YouTube just resulted in two years of gay people being treated like it’s the 1300’s,” Nerd City said in his video.

The report, published as a Google spreadsheet, classifies words in one of two categories: green meaning monetized and yellow meaning demonetized. However, YouTube Analyzed said the way monetization is decided is more like a 0-1 scale. 

Thus, certain words near the middle of that scale might be green one day and yellow the next. To provide context, he placed an asterisk next to words that yielded mixed results.

To create the list, they uploaded two-second clips they said had no demonetizable audio or video. Then, they experimented with keywords, replacing demonetized words with “happy” or “friend” to see it if that would monetize the video.

As such, they found a grab bag of results. For example, “antivaxx” sometimes resulted in demonetization, but never “antivax” or “anti-vaxxer.” 

Additionally, “North Carolina” was demonetizable but not “North Korea.” YouTube Analyzed actually explained this by saying that if a word has too much negative association with it, the bot might be prone to flagging the word. He argued “North Carolina” might have been flagged because news surrounding transgender bathroom laws made headlines in July as he was compiling the list. 

Other words like “restaurant,” “you,” “sunglasses,” “photos,” “profit,” and even “Shrek” reportedly caused their videos to get demonetized. 

While more expected terms like slurs, cuss words, and other words like “Hitler” were also flagged, other controversial words like “incel” and phrases like “how to murder” weren’t demonetized. YouTube Analyzed suggests, unlike the “North Carolina” example, if the bots haven’t seen a word or phrase used enough, they might not catch it.

LGBTQ+ Video Demonetization

The creators also found that common LGBTQ+ terminology tended to be demonetized, and some media outlets have called this project the most conclusive evidence that YouTube is demonetizing LGBTQ+ videos.

Again, however, the system yielded highly variable results. For example, “gay” was demonetizable, but YouTube Analyzed noted the word is context-sensitive. The term “lesbian” was sometimes green but “lesbians” was always yellow. Also, “transgender” was monetizable but not always “trans.”

Additionally, the word “homophobia” was ad-friendly, but not “homosexual,” while terms like “straight” and “heterosexual” were both always green.

Some of the titles they tried included “Lesbian princess” andKids Explain Gay Marriage,” a reference to a Jimmy Kimmel skit posted on YouTube. Both were demonetized but later monetized when replacing “lesbian” and “gay” with “happy.”

As to why these videos are being demonetized, Sealow posits a couple of possible reasons. The first is similar to the “North Carolina” example where, politics and negative press could influence certain words. In the case of LGBTQ+ content, bots could interpret certain terms negatively if they are regulating a high number of homophobic or hateful content.

Sealow also worries that if videos with words like “gay” are manually demonetized by people with biases, then bots will also develop the tendency to demonetize those videos regardless of the content.

According to Nerd City, YouTube is possibly outsourcing some 10,000 workers from a company called Lionbridge, which employs people from a number of countries that have anti-LGBTQ+ laws, including Somalia, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. 

He then asks: if there’s no standardized policy in place for LGBTQ+ content could reviewers keep a video demonetized based on their own bias?

It is unclear how many workers—if any—are from those countries or if such a bias is actually being taken into account; however, former workers with Lionsbridge have reportedly complained of unclear guidelines. 

Past Accusations Against LGBTQ+ Creators

Some YouTubers like Petty Paige have now resorted to censoring words like trans and homosexual to stay monetized, and a wide range of LGBTQ+ creators have called this trend an open secret.

In December, Mexican YouTuber Lusito Comunica asked YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan about this directly, saying three of his videos with LGBTQ+ titles were demonetized.

“I can just tell you categorically that there is no list of words or keywords or terms or anything like that that is going to go into our classifiers making an apriori decision on whether our videos are monetized or not,” Mohan said. 

“There’s nothing in terms of how our monetization algorithms work that should be based on any kind of predescribed or predetermined list,” he continued.

In his video, Sealow refutes that point, saying, “Given our testing results, it’s made clear that these comments are not accurate.” He notes that while the current situation for LGBTQ+ may be improved from two years ago, most would still call it unacceptable.

He also said he finds Mohan’s comments troubling because as CPO, Mohan has the power to fix this problem.

Later, in August, Alfie Deyes posed a similar question to YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki. 

“We do not automatically demonetize LGBTQ content,” she said. Then, later adding, “There’s no policies that say if you put certain words in the title that that will be demonetized.” 

Deyes then reiterated his question, asking if any words specifically from the LGBTQ+ are flagged, to which she says, “There shouldn’t be.”

Nerd City then focused on the word “policy” in his video, saying Wojcicki lied by omission. 

“It’s sneaky language from a very smart woman who talks to a lot of lawyers,” he said. “There’s no policy to demonetize gay words, but there is a protocol where bots are doing exactly that.”

Also in August, a group of YouTubers sued the platform and claimed among other things, that YouTube is demonetizing their content. 

In 2018, YouTube took steps to expand its reviewing process, adding those previously-mentioned 10,000 workers to combat what Wojcicki called bad actors,”or people who attempt to exploit the platform’s monetization system. Those “bad actors” are actually part of why YouTube says it hasn’t released its algorithm data.

YouTube’s Mystery Algorithm

The report represents an attempt to better warn creators about why their videos may be demonetized, but demonetization involves other factors, as well. As they continue to attempt to learn more about the mysterious algorithm, that list changes every day. 

Because of that, all of them note the information they presented is not necessarily complete. Nerd City has argued that YouTube should publish details on how its algorithm works, saying more openness could allow creators to make more money because they would then be able to see what does and does not get monetized.

He also deconstructs the “bad actors” argument, saying people would just report misleading content anyway.

Notably, the FairTube Campaign is urging YouTube to at least send creators a reason why their specific videos were demonetized, that way they can then learn and take steps to make sure future videos are ad-friendly.

YouTube Responds

Monday, the YouTube Team Twitter account respond to this series of videos, saying, “Wanted to let you know that we’ve watched your video and the right teams are reviewing your concerns in detail. We want to make sure that we give you some clear answers, so we’ll follow back up when the teams have been able to take a good, hard look.”

Later, a YouTube spokesperson then released a statement saying there is no list of words that deem a video not ad-friendly. 

“We’re proud of the incredible LGBTQ+ voices on our platform and take concerns like these very seriously,” the spokesperson said. “We do not have a list of LGBTQ+ related words that trigger demonetization and we are constantly evaluating our systems to help ensure that they are reflecting our policies without unfair bias.”

That spokesperson also said YouTube tests samples of LGBTQ+ content when there are new monetization classifers to make sure LGBTQ+ videos aren’t more likely to be demonetized.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (INSIDER) (Mashable)

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Durte Dom Responds to Rape Allegation

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  • Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, AKA Durte Dom, responded to allegations that he raped a girl in 2018 who was too drunk to consent to sexual activity.
  • He wrote on his Instagram story that he wants to “sincerely apologize directly to the women involved in this incident,” but as far as he is concerned, everything that happened “was completely consensual.”
  • He added that the statements being made about him “unfairly” defame his character and that he is donating “thousands of dollars” to women’s charities.

Durte Dom Responds

Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, AKA Durte Dom, responded to allegations that he raped a woman who was too drunk to consent to sexual activity in 2018 and claimed that in his eyes, everything was “completely consensual.”

The accusation against Zeglaitis came to light in March after Insider reported that it had spoken to the victim who had appeared in a Vlog Squad video with her friends the night she was allegedly raped. She also claimed that members of the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol, as they were under 21 at the time. 

Zeglaitis did not give a comment to Insider, and in the month following the report, he went dormant on social media. Last week, he returned to TikTok, posting content as-usual despite pressure in the comments section to speak about the allegation. 

Over the weekend, he issued a response on his Instagram story. His account is currently set to private, so only people who follow Zeglaitis could see the post. 

“I want to sincerely apologize directly to the women involved in this incident,” he wrote. “I definitely empathize with the pain that everyone has suffered in this matter.”

“With that being said, as far as I am concerned, everything that occurred during the night in question was completely consensual,” he continued. “I believe the statements that have come out against me are entirely misleading and shed an incorrect light on my involvement.” 

“My character is being unfairly attacked and the statements that exist in the public eye are unfairly defaming and assaulting my character and reputation.”

Zegliatis claimed that since the Insider report came out, he has donated “thousands of dollars” to womens’ rights charities to show his “support for the unjustified and unnecessary struggles that women endure in our society on a daily basis.”

“It is time for all of us to demonstrate more respect for one another in every facet of life,” he added.

Responses to Statement

His response was not received well by numerous people on social media, who were frustrated that he did not take responsibility for his alleged actions. Many were also upset that the post was primarily about himself and did not reflect on the situation, consent, or any of his past behavior. 

“Not consensual if the girl is blacked out,” YouTuber Trisha Paytas wrote. 

The allegation against Zeglaitis, as well as other claims about a general culture of toxicity within the Vlog Squad, have taken the creator world by storm. The group’s frontman and one of YouTube’s biggest stars, David Dobrik, has issued multiple apologies about the incident. 

Dobrik has also lost major brand deals and stepped away from Dispo, a social media app he co-founded. He is currently taking a break from social media to rethink the way the production of his content is structured. He also said he has distanced himself from Zegalitis. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Dexerto) (SportsKeeda)

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Jake Paul Denies Sexual Assault Allegations

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  • YouTuber Jake Paul is denying allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise in the summer of 2019.
  • Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” Paul wrote in a statement Tuesday.
  • He added that he plans on pursuing a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”
  • Paradise, who posted a 20-minute video Friday accusing him of assault, has rejected claims that she lied for attention and said all she wants is an apology.

Jake Paul Denies Allegation

YouTuber Jake Paul denied allegations that he sexually assaulted TikToker Justine Paradise and said he will pursue legal action against her.

Paradise posted a 20-minute video on Friday claiming that Paul sexually assaulted her in the summer of 2019. She said Paul brought her to his room, where they began kissing, but claimed that she signaled she was uninterested in going any further. She alleged Paul then said, “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?” before unzipping his pants and forcing her to perform oral sex on him.

“He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him,” she said in her video. “Like I couldn’t even tell him not to…He didn’t ask for consent or anything.”

Paul first denied the allegation on Tuesday in a statement via his attorney, Daniel E. Gardenswartz.

“While others have already begun to debunk the claim alleged against him, our client categorically denies the allegation and has every intention of aggressively disproving it and pursuing legal action against those responsible for the defamation of his character,” Gardenswartz said.

“Our client believes that any false allegations diminish the credibility of those who have truly been victims of misconduct.”

Paul Accuses Justine Paradise of Seeking Attention, Financial Gains

Paul then shared a statement of his own on Twitter, where he again denied the claim and said he takes the topic of sexual assault seriously.

“Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week,” he wrote, referencing his upcoming match against UFC star Ben Askren.

“This individual is directly using the attention from her social media posts and video to promote her adult content website and Amazon shopping list,” Paul continued. He added that he plans to pursue a defamation of character case “to the fullest extent of the law.”

“At the time of her story I was in a relationship, and as someone who was a momma’s boy growing up, I respect women and mothers more than anything. I most certainly have never laid a finger on a girl without their consent.”

“I will fight this to the end to prove my innocence,” he wrote

Paradise Responds

Paradise responded to his statement on her Instagram story. She specifically criticized Paul for accusing her of lying in order to get gifts and other financial gains. 

“I wasn’t even aware that I still had an Amazon wishlist,” she wrote. “I just checked and there were literally six items on it.”

“I am not looking for gifts or money,” she continued. “I made it very clear that all I wanted from him was an apology. And for him to stop doing this to people.”

She also claimed that since posting her video, a minor came forward to her and shared a similar experience with Paul. She provided no further details about that interaction but encouraged other women to speak to her if they had also been assaulted or harassed by Paul.

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (People) (The Washington Post)

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Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault By TikToker Justine Paradise

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  • In a YouTube video shared Friday, TikToker Justine Paradise accused massive social media star Jake Paul of sexually assaulting her in July 2019.
  • She claimed he brought her to his bedroom while she was visiting his home and forced her to perform oral sex on him after she expressed that she did not want to engage in sexual activity.
  • Paul has not issued any statements about the allegations or responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment.

Jake Paul Accused of Sexual Assault

YouTuber Jake Paul has been accused of sexually assaulting TikToker Justine Paradise during the summer of 2019. 

Paradise posted a 20-minute YouTube video on Friday detailing her accusation. Paul has not yet responded in a public statement to her claims, and his team has not responded to Rogue Rocket’s request for comment. 

Paradise claimed she met Paul in 2019 after a mutual friend, identified in the video by the pseudonym Michael, invited her to hang out one day. He sent her an address to go to, and when Paradise got there, she was surprised to learn it was the Team 10 House, the mansion Paul purchased for his social media collective. She claimed that when she got there, she had to sign an NDA and have her photo taken.

She said that during her first visit to the house, she and Paul barely interacted but he still asked for her number before she left. She claimed that she and Paul would sometimes text each other and she ended up going back to the house a handful of times over the course of the summer to hang out. 

She stated that on her other visits, she still barely spoke to Paul even though he would text her from across the room or other parts of the house. She described this as “awkward” but thought Paul might not know how to initiate conversation with girls because she saw so many constantly flocking towards him. 

Their dynamic allegedly changed one day when, according to Paradise, Paul grabbed her and kissed her. She said she was okay with this, though she felt slightly uncomfortable that he did so in front of a room full of people. On a separate occasion, though, Paradise claimed he crossed the line.

Paradise alleged that on the night between July 19 and July 20, she and others were hanging out at the house when Paul grabbed her hand and started walking around with her, which she thought was “cute.” She said he then took her to his room, but she did not necessarily view this as something that inherently meant they would have sexual relations. 

“People have brought me to their rooms before and I’m their friend and they’re literally just trying to show me their room,” she explained in her video. “Or they just want to talk to me away from the crowd of people. Or sometimes they are trying to do something sexual but if I say no, they respect it.” 

Details of Allegation

She said that they first were chatting, then started dancing, and then started kissing before he moved things to his bed. She stated that she wanted to just keep it at kissing and thought he would understand. 

“Normally, everybody respects me when I don’t want to do sexual things, so I thought it was fine if I went in his room and I thought it would be fine to kiss him because I thought he would stop if I didn’t want to do anything else,” she said. 

She claimed Paul would place his hands on her body, or move her hands onto his, but that she rejected those advances by moving their hands off of each other. She also alleged that Paul likely knew her refusal to touch him was a signal that she did not to go any further, as she claimed he responded by saying “If nothing is going to happen, then what’s the point?”

“What’s the point?” she continued, “I don’t know? I don’t know, maybe I can be one of your friends. Maybe I can just be someone that you kiss.” 

Paradise said she was shocked by his response as no one had ever responded to her that way before, so she felt incredibly uncomfortable, but she claimed that Paul’s actions did not stop there. 

“This is the point where, if what he wanted was sex, he sees he’s not going to get it, this is the point where we would just go elsewhere, go back downstairs where everyone is,” she said.

Instead, however, Paradise claimed that Paul stood up, undid his pants, and forced her to perform oral sex. She explained that she felt especially violated because she views oral sex as incredibly intimate and has only done it with two or three other people, but she did not know how to make him stop.

“What am I supposed to do? He was literally…I was still laying down,” she said. “He was on top of me and like, holding my head into him. Like I couldn’t even tell him not to.”

“He didn’t ask for consent or anything,” she continued. “Like he knew I didn’t want to do anything with him because he said ‘If nothing’s going to happen what’s the point?’ And then he just shoves himself in me.” 

Aftermath of Alleged Assault

Paradise said the assault did not last very long, but she was left feeling confused in the immediate aftermath. She claimed that once it was over, he insisted that they needed to leave his room and go to the studio in the house, where everyone else was hanging out. She added that he got frustrated and slightly aggressive when she said she wanted to take time to collect herself and fix her hair before other people saw her. She described this as a big change in personality for Paul, because he had apparently been very friendly with her before this incident. 

Paradise claimed that once she rejoined the crowd, she told her friend Michael about what happened. He called the situation “horrible” and stated he would talk to Paul himself. She claimed she ended up spending the rest of the night at the Team 10 House and provided Snapchats of herself with a puffy face from crying with a location tag in Calabasas as evidence. She also shared other pictures she took at the house and other text messages allegedly exchanged between her and Paul. 

She said that Paul never contacted her again after this night, even though she attempted to reach out to him to talk about what happened. She added that she was unsure if her friend Michael reached out to Paul, but if he ever did, Paul never apologized. 

“Honestly, I don’t think it was anything significant to him,” she explained in the video. “Like I said there was a different girl with him every day, I don’t even know if he would remember me.” 

Paradise claimed she has thought about this incident nearly every day since it happened. Her intent in posting the video was to reach out to Paul so he can learn about what he did to her and how it made her feel. She also asserted that she feels a lot of men do not change their bad behavior unless they are called out publicly. 

Paradise said she wants her video to serve as a warning to other girls who might find themselves in a similar situation. She addressed the fact that some people may not believe her and accuse her of doing this for clout, but insisted she just wants to tell what she feels is an important story. 

“Am I doing this for attention? Yeah, I do want attention on this,” she explained. “Because it’s a problem that’s real and deserves attention.” 

Responses

On Friday, her video became a popular topic of discussion on Twitter. Many pulled up TikToks she had previously posted, including one where she mentioned a YouTuber assaulting her and having to sign an NDA. Some also shared an update to that video, where Paradise claimed she was talking to a reporter about the situation. 

Other major creators, including YouTuber Trisha Paytas, uploaded Paradise and other survivors for speaking out, and urged people to take the accusations seriously.

“I’m glad victims are comfortable speaking up more and more,” she wrote. “This disgusting behavior should be put on blast – predators, rapists need appropriate punishments and not just “being cancelled” temporarily and back on a pedestal the next month.”

For his part, Paul has been posting his usual content on social media to promote his upcoming fight. Many people are urging him to respond to the accusations. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Daily Dot) (Unilad)

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