In a series of viral tweets on Thursday evening, Vox journalist Carlos Maza detailed what he called the “mind melting” levels of homophobic harassment he experiences on YouTube, a platform that prides itself on being an inclusive, queer-friendly site.
Maza, a gay video producer who hosts the popular Vox show ”Strikethrough,” said he’s been ridiculed, doxxed and attacked by hordes of trolls seemingly inspired by conservative commentator Steven Crowder’s YouTube channel, which has nearly 4 million subscribers. There, Crowder and his co-hosts delight in denigrating Maza.
“[Crowder’s] videos get millions of views on YouTube. Every time one gets posted, I wake up to a wall of homophobic/racist abuse on Instagram and Twitter,” Maza, who wasn’t available for comment, wrote in a tweet. “I waste a lot of time blocking abusive Crowder fanboys, and this shit derails your mental health.”
In his YouTube videos, Crowder has repeatedly mocked Maza and tauntingly called him a “lispy sprite,” “little queer,” “gay v-neck,” “gay Mexican guy,” “Mr. Gay Vox” and “gay Latino from Vox,” among other names. Often Crowder unleashes this abuse while wearing a shirt that he sells and promotes on his channel and that reads, “Socialism is for f*gs.” The abuse reached a new level last year, when hundreds of strangers suddenly texted Maza at the exact same time urging him to debate Crowder, Maza said.
This kind of prolonged, unbridled and targeted harassment demonstrates a consistent failure by YouTube to enforce its own policies.
In its community guidelines, the Google-owned platform claims to have no tolerance for hate speech, cyberbullying or harassment, including content that “incites others to harass or threaten individuals on or off YouTube,” “makes hurtful and negative personal comments/videos about another person” or “is deliberately posted in order to humiliate someone.”
YouTube didn’t immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, although it has acknowledged in the past that it has “let the LGBTQ community down.” The company has been accused of quietly censoring and demonetizing content from queer creators and even running anti-LGBTQ ads on their videos.
In a video response to Maza on Friday, Crowder attempted to downplay the homophobic sentiment behind his words and said he has “always condemned, and continue[s] to condemn [and] discourage any and all forms of doxxing or targeted harassment of anyone online.” Crowder, who also didn’t immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment, then claimed that his videos merely criticize the ideas that Maza presents on “Strikethrough,” not Maza’s identity, and that Maza is now trying to get Crowder’s YouTube channel banned.
According to Crowder himself, YouTube has given him multiple warnings for violating its copyright policies and temporarily removed one of his videos. But the numerous videos in which Crowder maliciously attacks Maza, including one posted this week, are still online and monetized, meaning Crowder can potentially take a cut of the ad revenue YouTube earns from those videos. (YouTube content creators can make an estimated rate of up to $5 per 1,000 views through the company’s Partner Program. Crowder’s near-daily videos bring in hundreds of thousands of views, sometimes millions.)
But Maza said it’s not Crowder he’s frustrated with.
“There will always be fucking assholes trying to get attention by being bigots. The problem is that @YouTube is designed to give those assholes a megaphone, push new followers in their directions, and keep them listening. It’s a weapon,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I cannot explain how awful it is to see a video where you’re called a ‘lispy queer’ pass a MILLION views. THOUSANDS of comments piling on,” Maza continued. “How the fuck are LGBT people expected to produce interesting content in this environment?”