Four African American content creators have filed a class action complaint against the social media platform.
“[The plaintiffs] bring this lawsuit to redress overt, intentional, and systematic racial discrimination perpetrated by Google/YouTube to deny them and other members of a protected racial classification […] equal access to YouTube,” the document claims.
It goes on to allege that YouTube “systemically employ” artificial intelligence to “target” the creators, using data about their racial identity to “restrict access and drive them off YouTube”.
“By using A.I algorithms and other computerized machine based filtering tools […] to sanction Plaintiffs, Defendants engage in a knowing and intentional practice that unlawfully discriminates against users based on race or other protected racial classifications under the law, or viewpoints,” it reads.
The lawsuit adds YouTube has been “misapplying ‘Restricted Mode'” to videos from the creators “which address or discuss issues of importance to their communities”, because the content contains phrases like ‘BLM’ or ‘Black Lives Matter’ in the title or tags.
It also mentions Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, the same piece of legislation which President Trump has called to be revoked.
“[YouTube’s] assertion that Section 230(c) permits them to use a person’s race, identity or viewpoint to block access to YouTube is unconstitutional,” it claims.
The action was filed by creators Kimberly Carleste Newman, Lisa Cabrera, Catherine Jones, and Denotra Nicole Lewis, through legal firm Browne George Ross LLP.
Browne George Ross are the same legal firm who launched legal action against YouTube over the treatment of LGBTQ+ content creators in August last year.
The case is still ongoing.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that according to YouTube, the platform’s systems “aren’t designed to identify race”, and that less than 2% of users use the optional Restricted Mode feature.
They add that YouTube is currently reviewing the complaint.