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YouTube to re-examine harassment policy after dispute

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YouTube has said it will take a harder look at its harassment policy following a recent dispute between two video makers over slurs that one made about another’s sexual orientation and ethnicity.

American writer and video host Carlos Maza accused YouTuber Steven Crowder of homophobic attacks and inciting harassment, after posting videos mocking his accent, hand movements, and sexuality, describing him as a “lispy queer”.

Mr Crowder has hit back at the claims, saying it is “harmless” humour and that he has never encouraged viewers to engage in harassment.

The Google-owned platform first responded to calls to take action on the YouTuber by saying that although it found the content was “clearly hurtful” it was not in violation of its policies.

The video sharing site’s harassment and cyberbullying policy states online that “content that is deliberately posted in order to humiliate someone” and “content that makes hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person” is not allowed on its platform.

YouTube has now said it will re-examine its harassment policy, in consultation with experts, creators, journalists and those who have been victims of harassment, as it struggles to balance the issue.

“Not everyone will agree with the calls we make — some will say we haven’t done enough; others will say we’ve gone too far,” YouTube’s Chris Dale said.

“And, sometimes, a decision to leave an offensive video on the site will look like us defending people who have used their platforms and audiences to bully, demean, marginalise or ignore others.

“If we were to take all potentially offensive content down, we’d be losing valuable speech — speech that allows people everywhere to raise their voices, tell their stories, question those in power, and participate in the critical cultural and political conversations of our day.”

YouTube claimed in the first quarter of 2019, it removed tens of thousands of videos and accounts for violation of our policies on cyberbullying and harassment.

However, the company has decided to suspend Mr Crowder’s ability to monetise from adverts due to “widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behaviour”.

“Imagine if you just enforced the plain language of your original policies instead of endlessly creating loopholes to exempt high-profile abusers,” Mr Maza tweeted in response to YouTube’s latest statement.

The incident has also resulted in a backlash by Google’s own employees, with the Googlers Against Hate group tweeting: “Despite YouTube capitalising on Pride as a marketing campaign, it’s clear they have no issue making policy decisions that harm LGBTQ people like @gaywonk (Carlos Maza).

“We have #NoPrideInYT.”

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