Conservative YouTuber allowed to continue racist, homophobic harassment (updated)

After nearly a week, YouTube has ended an investigation into whether or not conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder, who inspired the “change my mind” meme, has violated the platform’s community guidelines.

The streaming platform concluded that Crowder’s repeated homophobic slurs and racist remarks directed toward Vox writer Carlos Maza did not violate any of its policies, and Crowder’s YouTube channel will remain up and fully operational.

On May 30, Maza, the host of Vox video series Strikethrough, posted a Twitter thread detailing numerous instances of Crowder making homophobic and racist remarks about Maza in his videos over the past two years. Among the insults, Crowder referred to Maza as “mister lispy queer” and “the gay Mexican from Vox.”

In a Twitter thread last week calling out Crowder’s bigotry, Maza explained that the harassment from followers of Steven Crowder’s Louder with Crowder show has ramped up significantly.

“The abuse from his fans has been genuinely out of control,” Maza told the Daily Dot. “Both of my email accounts are getting hit. I had to lock Instagram. My Twitter feed and inbox is a wall of people calling me a ‘faggot’ and threatening to kill me right now.”

It’s déjà vu for Maza, who last year was similarly doxxed when his phone number was leaked. Maza received incessant texts from random numbers insisting that he “debate Steven Crowder.”

Prior to official word from YouTube, Crowder published a video response to Maza titled “Vox is Trying to Ban This Channel…” In the video, he described the situation as “an example of a giant corporate media entity trying to silence voices that they don’t like.” “Make no mistake, this isn’t about me versus some guy at Vox,” Crowder added.

On Tuesday evening, the official @TeamYouTube account posted a series of tweets in reply to Maza’s original thread. The tweets signaled that YouTube had finished its investigation into Crowder, and no disciplinary measures would be taken against his channel.

Maza and other YouTubers were appalled by the news of YouTube’s inaction.

https://twitter.com/ContraPoints/status/1136072846172676096

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki posted a tweet on May 2 that resurfaced during this ordeal. Previously, in a December 17 post on YouTube’s official blog, the CEO expressed that YouTube’s goal “is to stay one step ahead of bad actors, making it harder for policy-violating content to surface or remain on YouTube.”

In the blog post, Wojcicki also details the advancements YouTube’s flagging process has had due to machine-learning algorithms, which been a constant lightning rod for controversy

Wojcicki claims that YouTube values ethics over revenue, but her statement seems to contradict the fact that specific videos where Crowder hurls abuse at Maza are still allowed to host advertisements.

This issue hits harder given that it’s playing out during Pride Month. Many have already pointed out that YouTube will virtue signal by plastering rainbow versions of its logo on social media but failing to take direct action against bigotry on its platform.

For Maza, YouTube’s failure to take action against Crowder speaks volumes of the where the streaming platform’s priorities lay.

“YouTube isn’t just failing queer creators. It’s actively exploiting us,” Maza tells the Daily Dot. “It’s publicly pretending to care about us so that it can paint a happy, advertiser-friendly image. But YouTube refuses to enforce the policies that protect us from abuse, and continues to use its technology and algorithms to drive millions and millions of views to videos that dehumanize us, all in the name of engagement.”

Updated 2:25pm CT, June 5: In the wake of some backlash to its decision to not suspend or take down Crowder’s channel, YouTube decided to demonetize it, a frequent tool the social media company uses to try and curb violations of its policies.

However, YouTube walked that back in a second tweet, saying Crowder’s offense was partially relating to selling T-shirts on his channel that contained slurs. The site said Crowder could remonetize his channel if he removed the link to the shirts.

That announcement went over poorly.

YouTube later clarified that Crowder would continue to be demonetized until he addressed all issues, not just T-shirts.

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Ignacio Martinez

Ignacio Martinez

Ignacio Martinez is a journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin and an intern at the Daily Dot. His work has appeared in the Texas Observer and on the airwaves at KVRX 91.7 FM.