Five leading content creators whose channels were based on LGBTQ+ materials filed a federal lawsuit against YouTube in August 2019, alleging that YouTube's algorithms diverts discovery away from their channels, impacting their revenue. The plaintiffs claimed that the algorithms discourage content with words like "lesbian" or "gay", which would be predominant in their channels' content, and because of YouTube's near-monopolization of online video services, they are abusing that position.
In January 2018, YouTube creator Logan Paul faced criticism for a video he had uploaded from a trip to Japan, where he encountered a body of a suicide death in the Aokigahara forest. The corpse was visible in the video, although its face was censored. The video proved controversial due to its content, with its handling of the subject matter being deemed insensitive by critics. On January 10—eleven days after the video was published—YouTube announced that it would cut Paul from the Google Preferred advertising program. Six days later, YouTube announced tighter thresholds for the partner program to "significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community", under which channels must have at least 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months and at least 1,000 subscribers. YouTube also announced that videos approved for the Google Preferred program would become subject to manual review, and that videos would be rated based on suitability (with advertisers allowed to choose).More Info
YouTube joined an initiative led by France and New Zealand with other countries and tech companies in May 2019 to develop tools to be used to block online hate speech and to develop regulations, to be implemented at the national level, to be levied against technology firms that failed to take steps to remove such speech, though the United States declined to participate. Subsequently, on June 5, 2019, YouTube announced a major change to its terms of service, "specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status." YouTube identified specific examples of such videos as those that "promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory". YouTube further stated it would "remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place."More Info
YouTube has enabled people to more directly engage with government, such as in the CNN/YouTube presidential debates (2007) in which ordinary people submitted questions to U.S. presidential candidates via YouTube video, with a techPresident co-founder saying that Internet video was changing the political landscape. Describing the Arab Spring (2010–2012), sociologist Philip N. Howard quoted an activist's succinct description that organizing the political unrest involved using "Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world." In 2012, more than a third of the U.S. Senate introduced a resolution condemning Joseph Kony 16 days after the "Kony 2012" video was posted to YouTube, with resolution co-sponsor Senator Lindsey Graham remarking that the video "will do more to lead to (Kony's) demise than all other action combined."More Info
FTC commissioner Rebecca Kelly Slaughter noted in dissenting remarks that many of the child-directed channels on YouTube were run by owners outside of the U.S., which may fall outside the jurisdiction of COPPA and the FTC's "practical reach". The FTC issued a blog post on November 22, 2019, to clarify what it considered "made for kids" and that several factors will be used to make this determination, and that it recognized that some types of content, like animated programming, can appeal to all ages and would not be immediately become subject to COPPA's requirements. The FTC also directed creators to its original complaint against YouTube, identifying channels and video content that they considered to be under COPPA that was the basis of their case.More Info
Some YouTube videos have themselves had a direct effect on world events, such as Innocence of Muslims (2012) which spurred protests and related anti-American violence internationally. TED curator Chris Anderson described a phenomenon by which geographically distributed individuals in a certain field share their independently developed skills in YouTube videos, thus challenging others to improve their own skills, and spurring invention and evolution in that field. Journalist Virginia Heffernan stated in The New York Times that such videos have "surprising implications" for the dissemination of culture and even the future of classical music.More Info
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