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Gay couple settle dispute with Google

by David-Elijah Nahmod

A gay married San Francisco couple that produces GNews, a gay news show on YouTube, has settled their dispute with Google, which owns the popular site.

As the Bay Area Reporter previously reported, Chris Knight and Celso Dulay had an ad for their Christmas special rejected for "shocking content." They were told by a floor manager at Google Adwords that the ad was rejected because GNews is a gay show.

The B.A.R. had reviewed the episode in question and could find no examples of nudity, hate speech, or obscene language.

Knight and Dulay asked that their censorship complaint be escalated. Google spokesman Alex Krasov assured the couple and the B.A.R. that Google does not allow bias.

"YouTube has long supported LGBTQ creators and we do not have any policies against LGBTQ content," Krasov said. "Sometimes we make mistakes, which is why we encourage creators to appeal when they encounter issues."

Other Google representatives, who did not want to be named, noted that as part of its commitment to LGBTQ inclusiveness, YouTube released a documentary on trans content creator Gigi Gorgeous on its YouTube Red channel. YouTube also claims that when LGBTQ creators raise concerns around demonetization, it has done research and found no instances of bias. And, in almost all cases, the creators voicing concerns were seeing only a handful of videos being flagged, against hundreds of videos on their channels that were monetizing just fine. This would be a rate consistent with creators across the platform, the reps said.

YouTube further claims that it is constantly evaluating its systems to ensure they are enforcing policies without any bias, and in repeated tests to evaluate bias of any kind, bias has not been found, according to the reps. Beyond that, the team that does manual reviews of appealed videos goes through extensive training to understand how they should apply the advertiser content guidelines. YouTube knows these reviews are important to creators and their revenue, so they strive to review as many videos as humanly possible, as quickly as possible, the reps said.

The GNews Christmas show has since been boosted and has been viewed by 2,200 people. The following two episodes of GNews, episodes 102 and 103, have since been posted at YouTube and were boosted without issue. Episode 102 has received 8,000 views, while 103 is currently up to 4,700 views.

"We're cautiously optimistic that our conversation with senior Google executives helped shine a light on the incident of LGBT discrimination we experienced on December 29 while trying to promote our holiday show," Knight said in a statement to the B.A.R. "The call with the floor manager in the Google AdWords' call center is not one of our favorite memories."

Knight urged other content creators to speak up when they face these kinds of issues.

"Speak out, act quickly, and do not let incidents like this lie in an age where resistance is necessary to fight back against anti-discriminatory roll-backs," he said. "As a result of more pressure on internet providers and tech platforms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to patrol their news feeds and content by adding more humans into the process there will surely be more issues with humans discriminating against other humans. With net neutrality and other legal protections to a free internet being threatened, it's more important than ever that all voices be heard, and that we're all ready to stand up to battle for vital pillars of our democracy."

Knight said that moving forward, episodes of GNews would be posted on Facebook, in addition to YouTube. In GNews' 103rd episode the B.A.R. was thanked for the previous coverage given to the incident.

To watch GNews episodes and to subscribe to its YouTube channel, visit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7hq3vVmGiCeypwAMdacRLA.

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