YouTube has backtracked its decision to suspend a channel which hosted videos of a suffragette being beaten up in Red Dead Redemption 2.
The original video which sparked the controversy, "Red Dead Redemption 2 - Beating Up Annoying Feminist," was posted by a YouTuber named Shirrako last week. Shirrako's channel is now back online, although the video now has an age warning attached. All of Shirako's other videos - including "Annoying Feminist Fed To Pigs", "Dropping Feminist To Hell & Killing The Devil" and "Annoying Feminist Fed To Alligator" - have similarly been reinstated with age warnings.
Ryan Wyatt, Global Head of Gaming for YouTube, has explained the videos had been re-reviewed and deemed not to violate community guidelines. In a separate tweet, Wyatt called the channel suspension an error and said "the reviewer will be educated on this outcome and on how to avoid repeating this mistake".
YouTube's community guidelines state content creators may receive strikes if their videos include "Hateful Content," defined as "content that promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity". According to Shirrako's screenshots, however, his account was suspended for a different violation - the display of "gratuitous violence".
YouTube is also supposed to give three strikes before terminating a channel, but Shirrako claims not to have received any warnings prior to this incident. It's possible, however, that all the strikes merely happened at once - particularly given that many of his videos contain inflammatory content.
A spokesperson from YouTube told Eurogamer today that YouTube's Community Guidelines prohibit among other things, gratuitous violence, nudity, dangerous and illegal activities, and hate speech. Creative formats such as video games can be challenging to assess but when content crosses the line and is flagged to our attention, we take action as necessary.
The original video, which has now been viewed over 1.6m times, caused controversy for showing gameplay footage of the player punching a suffragette. The video also attracted over 18,000 comments, many of which were supportive of the video and made derogatory comments towards feminists, "SJWs" and "libtards". A number of other videos on the channel show the feminist being hogtied, thrown down a mine and fed to an alligator.
Shirrako appears to have celebrated his channel's reinstatement with new videos such as "Deporting A Mexican" and "Beating Up Chinese Man" (neither of which come with warnings). He also thanked "everyone that showed support against this false declaration by YouTube".
The entire incident, meanwhile, has prompted a number of discussions - such as whether YouTube should class gameplay videos as violence, and the complications which arise when player choice is prioritised in video games.