There could be one less big corporate brand among the Bud Lights, Facebooks, and T-Mobiles in the SF Pride parade, as the Pride board considers barring Google for their tepid response to some homophobic videos.
It’s the time of year when Google loves to bust out rainbow-slathered doodles and Pride filters on their official corporate accounts, among other low-risk symbolic gestures that hope to convey how they’re the good guys in “celebration and liberation for the entire LGBTQ+ community.” So it’s pretty inconveniently timed for YouTube and its parent company Google to find themselves currently ensnared in a Pride Month controversy over allowing and monetizing homophobic harassment videos. The ‘phobes in question have been producing videos harassing Washington, DC-based gay writer and video blogger Carlos Maza, but the situation now has significant San Francisco repercussions. Hoodline reports that SF Pride board of directors is considering disinviting Google from the Pride parade for continuing to stream homophobic hate videos and enabling harassment.
The Twitter thread above from Violet Blue details a years-long laundry list of complaints that YouTube has restricted and demonetized LGBTQ videos, while not exercising the same vigilance against homophobic hate videos. "This feels like a classic example of 'rainbow-washing,'" said former Google employee Tyler Bresaicher in public comment at Wednesday night’s SF Pride board meeting. "[Google] gets a lot of press for being progressive," another ex-Googler said at meeting. "But even during Pride Month, this is how they behave."
Since I started working at Vox, Steven Crowder has been making video after video "debunking" Strikethrough. Every single video has included repeated, overt attacks on my sexual orientation and ethnicity. Here's a sample: pic.twitter.com/UReCcQ2Elj— Carlos Maza (@gaywonk) May 31, 2019
We are not going to reprint the vulgar racist and anti-gay remarks directed at Maza by conservative pundit Steven Crowder. But if you have the stomach for it, Maza has compiled these into the supercut video seen above. Steven Crowder is the right-wing shit-stirrer who inspired the folding table “Change My Mind” meme, and whose most popular YouTube videos include “Hate Speech Isn't Real", "There Are Only Two Genders", and "Rape Culture Is A Myth."
(3/4) As an open platform, it’s crucial for us to allow everyone–from creators to journalists to late-night TV hosts–to express their opinions w/in the scope of our policies. Opinions can be deeply offensive, but if they don’t violate our policies, they’ll remain on our site.— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) June 4, 2019
Crowder’s videos have directed an army of trolls to create what Maza calls “a wall of homophobic [and] racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter” against him. In response, YouTube has fumbled through a series of weak and inconsistent responses. On Tuesday, YouTube tweeted “while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies.” Then on Wednesday, YouTube posted two separate blog posts totaling 1,500 words of meaningless public relations cowardice, deep in which they eventually acknowledge a minimal response.
“In the subsequent days, we saw the widespread harm to the YouTube community resulting from the ongoing pattern of egregious behavior, took a deeper look, and made the decision to suspend monetization,” YouTube head of communication Chris Dale wrote. “In order to be considered for reinstatement, all relevant issues with the channel need to be addressed, including any videos that violate our policies, as well as things like offensive merchandise.”
Crowder’s channel sells some pretty offensive merchandise that uses Maza’s image. So the homophobic hate videos remain up, but Crowder can no longer get ad income from any of his videos. And apparently Crowder can still sell the t-shirts in his videos. Maza and YouTube are currently debating on Twitter whether or not this means Crowder is “demonetized.”
Youtube isn't going to make decisions that could ultimately impact their bottomline and these people have money. Youtube functions under a capitalistic system that will always have some degree of exploitation on the other side. It's silly to expect them to truly have morals.— Kat Blaque (@kat_blaque) June 7, 2019
The Washington Post spoke to a number of LGBTQ YouTube stars who have similar experiences on the platform. “They will put rainbow flags on things; they will have initiatives,” trans star Kat Blaque told the Post. “They will call me in for every diversity meeting, but they will never draw that line in the sand.”
SF Pride has never once disinvited a corporate brand from participating in the parade, though they considered excluding Facebook in 2015 at the height of the real names controversy. (The board caved to Facebook in a close 5-4 vote after a personal call from Mark Zuckerberg). It’s an entirely different SF Pride board now, though. Hoodline reports the board members “intend to monitor the situation as it develops,” which frankly sounds like the board would rather stonewall than Stonewall.