Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.
Michael Newberg | CNBC
Google-owned YouTube will no longer allow anyone on its platform to post content that “maliciously insults” others based on protected traits including race, gender expression and sexual orientation, the company announced Wednesday.
The change, which was issued as part of YouTube’s regular harassment policy update, comes after the company was forced to publicly address a harassment claim one of its creators lodged against another. In late May, Vox journalist Carlos Maza, who identifies as gay, spoke out about repeated harassment he said he experienced from conservative YouTube host Steven Crowder, who regularly made fun of Maza’s race and sexual orientation.
Maza’s story sparked a public outcry against YouTube, urging the company to take action against Crowder. YouTube initially said Crowder’s comments didn’t violate its policies, although they were “hurtful.” Shortly after, YouTube flip-flopped and decided to suspend Crowder’s monetization on the platform. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki apologized to the LGBTQ community at a tech conference in June but said it was still “the right decision” to conclude the videos did not violate the company’s policies.
The backlash from LGBTQ creators continued through the summer however, with a group of eight complainants filing a discrimination suit against the company in August.
YouTube’s policy updates address other harassment behaviors as well. The company will now suspend members of its YouTube Partner Program for channels “that repeatedly brush up against our harassment policy,” meaning they will no longer be able to make money off the platform. YouTube may also consider removing content from the channel and potentially terminating the channel if the behavior continues.
YouTube will also continue to roll out a feature that lets creators choose to review comments that YouTube flags as potentially inappropriate.