LGBTQ YouTubers Say They Are Penalized For Sex Toy Sponsorships

CYBERSPACE—Creators of LGBTQ YouTube content say the Google-owned video platform, which by some measures ranks as the single most trafficked site on the internet,  has penalized them with “strikes”—official notifications of YouTube policy violations—for accepting sponsorship from sex toy retailers, according to a report by The Daily Dot

The content creators, many of whom produce sex education videos, take sponsorships from the Hillsborough, N.C.-based sex toy shop and mail order house that has been selling sexual novelty items continuously for almost 50 years. After a YouTube channel receives three “strikes,” YouTube deletes it—instantly depriving the channel creator of an income source.

The LGBTQ creators say they need the sponsorships from Adam & Eve because YouTube’s own monetization policies discriminate against them, according to a BBC report. Last month, a group of YouTube creators filed a lawsuit against the platform claiming that the company simply strips ads off of videos that contain such keywords as “gay,” or “lesbian.”

YouTube also frequently categorizes LGBTQ-themed videos as “mature” content, preventing the, from appearing in search results, the lawsuit alleges. In one instance, a Google advertising representative told a content creator over the phone that "sexuality content about the gays" was a violation of the company’s policies, according to the BBC.

One creator, Chase Ross, alleged as far back as 2017 that YouTube was taking punitive action against videos for nothing more than containing the keyword “trans,” and that in some cases, YouTube went so far as to attach anti-LGBTQ ads to videos designed for an LGBTQ audience. 

YouTube denied that removed monetization from LGBTQ-themed videos, or that it discriminated against them at all. And in the case of creators who were slapped with “strikes” for their Adam & Even sponsorships, YouTube said that those strikes were issued “incorrectly,” according to the Daily Dot report.

And in fact, some creators also sponsored by Adam & Eve, including the sex-advice channel Sexplanations, and the “queer-kink” channel Watts the Safeword have reported no actions against them by YouTube, even though they are also sponsored by Adam & Eve, according to The Daily Dot.

YouTube issued a statement to The Daily Dot, blaming its “mistakes” on  “the massive volume of videos on our site.”

“We incorrectly issued strikes on videos with links to an adult toy site. When this was brought to our attention, we worked quickly to resolve the strikes for all affected creators,” the statement read.

But some content creators remained skeptical. “A platform lying, gaslighting and taking advantage of creators does not build trust,” said one, Watts the Safeword host Amp Somers, on Twitter earlier this week.

Photo By SCBY / Wikimedia Commons