Last Updated on June 17, 2020
A group of LGBTQ content creators sued YouTube last year for alleged discrimination against their content based on their sexual orientation, and now cite the president’s Big Tech executive order to help their case.
The lawsuit was filed in August of last year, and alleged that there has been “unlawful content regulation, distribution, and monetization practices [by YouTube] that stigmatize, restrict, block, demonetize, and financially harm the LGBT Plaintiffs and the greater LGBT Community.”
The suit further alleged that videos with the words “transgender,” “gay,” or “bisexual” in the video title are automatically demonetised. Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, categorically denied this, claiming that no such policy exists.
“We work incredibly hard to make sure that when our machines learn something, because a lot of our decisions are made algorithmically, that our machines are fair,” she told YouTuber Alfie Deyes. “There shouldn’t be [automatic demonetisation].”
Google, YouTube’s parent company, also vehemently denied any discrimination against LGBTQ creators, claiming that their algorithms are protected under Section 230 of the Communications and Decency Act. The Justice Department agreed, and recommended to a federal judge that the law should not be declared as unconstitutional.
However, last month, President Trump announced a new executive order that would strip the “liability shield” that Big Tech companies have under Section 230 if they engage in “censoring or any political conduct.” The President said that he would “not allow the American people to be bullied these giant corporations.”
Whilst the President predominantly cited the censorship of conservatives, the executive order is, of course, bi-partisan, and is now being cited in this case,
“Donald Trump issued an executive order instructing the Department of Justice to apply the statute in a way that we are arguing,” Peter Obstler, the lead attorney in the case for the LGBTQ creators against YouTube, told The Verge. “It does appear that the Justice Department, at least in my opinion, has taken a position in this case that is entirely inconsistent with Trump’s executive order.”