On February 1, YouTube started sharing ad revenue with Shorts creators on the platform, providing a new form of monetization. This means right-wing influencers who litter the platform with anti-LGBTQ vitriol, racist and misogynistic rhetoric, and COVID-19 misinformation may stand to gain financially from their harmful content.
Launched in 2020, Shorts — a YouTube feature offering short-form videos on repeat — now boasts over 50 billion daily views from 1.5 billion logged-in users a month, rivaling the user base of TikTok. A YouTube spokesperson said that Shorts’ growth over the last two years has also drawn in newer creators and younger audiences, noting, “We have seen more viewer growth with Shorts, and that creates more inventory for us and more opportunity for advertisers.”
YouTube has policies against hate speech and harassment and cyberbullying, claiming to remove content “promoting violence or hatred” and “prolonged name calling or malicious insults” based on protected attributes such as race and gender identity and expression. The platform also has policies against misinformation that causes real-world harm, including COVID-19 misinformation that “contradicts local health authorities’ (LHA) or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information.” The platform also has more stringent policies for monetized content, but Media Matters has repeatedly reported on YouTube’s failures at moderating such content.
Even as YouTube has tried to crack down on hate speech and COVID-19 misinformation policy violations, its inconsistency in enforcement of its community guidelines has left the platform, including its Short feature, rife with anti-trans hate, misogyny, racism, and COVID-19 misinformation from right-wing figures. And some prominent YouTube creators have noticed, raising concerns about transphobic and misogynistic Shorts appearing in the short-form videos feed.
Media Matters found that in Shorts, right-wing personalities are targeting LGBTQ people with toxic rhetoric and labeling them “child predators” and “groomers,” associates of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes are attempting to spread his racism and misogyny, sexist streamers Andrew Tate and Sneako are spreading through Shorts despite their bans, and some right-wing accounts appear to be posting COVID-19 medical misinformation unchecked.
(Just prior to publication, YouTube terminated two channels and removed eight Shorts identified in the piece, including three videos from the terminated channels. We’ve added notes throughout the piece indicating which Shorts have been removed.)
As Media Matters previously documented, YouTube has failed to adequately moderate misgendering, which is a form of anti-trans harassment that is rife on the platform. Now, repeated misgendering by prominent right-wing personalities of transgender people appears to be widespread in Shorts content as well.
Right-wing media commentators have especially targeted high-profile trans people like TikTok star Dylan Mulvaney and Zaya, the 15-year-old daughter of NBA player Dwyane Wade. Daily Wire hosts in particular, such as Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, and Matt Walsh, aggressively use Shorts to promote their anti-LGBTQ content, including repeated misgendering.
- The Daily Wire’s Candace Owens has posted multiple Shorts urging parents not to accept their trans children. In a Short that garnered nearly 500,000 views, Owens misgendered Zaya Wade and attacked Dwyane Wade for publicly supporting her, saying it is “not totally fine. There’s an element of this that makes me believe that Dwyane Wade is sick.” In a separate Short, Owens said: “You should never be accepting of an ecosystem of evil,” and teachers and schools who teach kids they can change their gender are “child predators.”
- Right-wing commentators the Hodgetwins have also utilized the Shorts feature to spread anti-trans vitriol about children. In one Short, one of them said: “These trans kids are being manufactured by batshit crazy parents.” In another Short, they repeatedly misgendered Zaya Wade and made a comment about her legs: “I got to tell you what, that Zaya, man, has got supermodel legs. Not many trans can pull this off.”
- Daily Wire founder Ben Shapiro has posted multiple Shorts that received millions of views mocking and misgendering Dylan Mulvaney, declaring that she “can’t be a woman” and calling her “a man who believes he’s a woman.”
- In a Short with nearly 3 million views, The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh viciously misgendered transgender MMA fighter Alana McLaughlin, stating, “Literally every part of him is male. If they dig up the remains a hundred years from now, no matter how much of him is left, they will be able to tell he was male.” Walsh has also targeted and misgendered Mulvaney in a Short that received almost 500,000 views.
- BlazeTV host Allie Beth Stuckey has repeatedly attacked the LGBTQ community in Shorts posted to her account. She criticized drag shows, saying that “there is absolutely no innocent reason for a kid to go to a drag show. There is no innocent reason for an entity to host a drag show for kids. There’s no innocent, nonpredatory reason for a man to dress sexually in front of children.” In another Short, Stuckey said that when teachers talk to kids about gender identity it’s “a form of grooming.”
- In a Short titled “The Silent P: The Newest LGBTQ+ Letter,” BlazeTV host Jason Whitlock said: “The silent p, which stands for both perversion and pedophilia, is the alphabet mafia's superpower. … The silent p powers the drag queen groomers at our elementary schools. … The silent p is the glue to the shadow government ruling America.” The Short was taken down by YouTube just prior to publication for violating the platform’s hate speech policy. In another Short, Whitlock declared himself proudly “drag-phobic, and accused drag performers of being “men pretending to be women and trying to seduce little kids.”
- YouTuber Tim Pool has uploaded multiple Shorts targeting the LGBTQ community. In one, a guest said that expanding rights for transgender people is “a movement that poses a threat to women and children now.” In another Short, Pool said that the left is “playing semantics to manipulate, to groom” children by distinguishing between drag shows and stripping.
- Right-wing think-tank the Heritage Foundation frequently uses Shorts to promote its anti-LGBTQ content. In a Short that received over 1 million views, a Heritage Foundation senior research fellow claimed that “there have been outrages done in the name of science and medicine throughout the last century. This is our generation’s medical outrage and we’ve got to do something about it.” The account also posted a Short misgendering Mulvaney that received over 5 million views.
- Right-wing podcast host Elijah Schaffer — who was fired from TheBlaze following sexual assault allegations — has uploaded Shorts misgendering and attacking Mulvaney on his show Slightly Offensive. Schaffer said: “They're not just asking me to let them walk around being a homo; they’re saying you’ve got to completely accept this is what a woman is. … It’s like they don’t give you any free will to be like you’re an ugly dude with anemia and possible eating disorder in a crop top. That’s all you are.”
Shorts of misogynist streamers Andrew Tate and Sneako continue to spread despite their bans from the platform
YouTube has taken action in the past to address misogynistic content on the platform, including banning streamers Andrew Tate in August 2022 and Sneako in October 2022. Sneako and Tate both recently made headlines, Tate for being charged with rape and human trafficking in Romania and Sneako for taking a hiatus from streaming to join antisemitic rapper Ye’s presidential campaign. Despite their bans, Shorts with misogynistic rhetoric from Tate and Sneako continue to spread on the platform.
- Just prior to publication, YouTube terminated an account that appeared to be dedicated to exclusively posting Shorts of Sneako and had over 100,000 subscribers and over 160 million views. The Shorts featured Sneako and guests espousing sexist rhetoric, such as saying men are better than women at jobs including serving in the military, being a cop, and directing a company, and suggesting that “it’s not in a man’s best interest to wife up a single mom.”
- An account seemingly dedicated to Tate has over 15,000 subscribers and frequently posts Shorts of Tate espousing misogynistic rhetoric. Across several Shorts, Tate says that “toxic masculinity was invented by women nobody wants to fuck to describe the men that the women do want to fuck," that if he has a long term partner her genitals “belong to him,” and that he would give CPR only to a hot female and not to men because he’s not “gay.” In another Short from the account, Tate calls a 10-year-old a “geek” who isn’t going to “get laid.”
- Just prior to publication, YouTube terminated an account dedicated to Tate that exclusively posted content featuring him, including Shorts. In a Short from the account that garnered over 500,000 views, Tate said: “How can you be high value if 50 men have slept with you? … A body count is probably the number one most easiest way to judge the value of a female.”
- Additionally, numerous other accounts dedicated to posting Sneako content remain on YouTube posting Shorts. The channels have garnered tens of thousands of subscribers and tens of millions of views.
Shorts with COVID-19 misinformation
Media Matters easily identified multiple Shorts that seemingly violate YouTube’s COVID-19 misinformation policies, including numerous from the far-right Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders account, which has over 370,000 subscribers and regularly posts Shorts espousing COVID-19 misinformation.
- In a Short that was removed by YouTube just prior to publication “for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines,” serial COVID-19 misinformer Dr. Robert Malone on the American Thought Leaders account absurdly claimed that the pandemic is part of a government plot by leaders to convince people to “become genetically modified organisms” and called the effort to vaccinate people a “psy-ops campaign to get people to accept products which are neither safe nor effective.”
- Dr. Ryan Cole, who has repeatedly spread COVID-19 misinformation, falsely claimed in a Short posted to American Thought Leaders (and removed just prior to publication “for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines”) that “the vaccine is more dangerous than the virus itself” and that COVID-19 is an “extinct virus.” The Short had received over 700,000 views. In another Short with 250,000 views, Cole falsely claimed the COVID-19 vaccine can give people Epstein-Barr virus or Lyme disease and called the vaccine an “expired product,” stating: “Now we have two expired products for two extinct viruses, but that spike causes reactivation of viruses — Epstein-Barr virus is the one that causes a lot of fatigue in patients. … We’re seeing an uptick in Lyme disease. We are seeing an uptick in unusual viruses.”
- Dr. James Thorp, who has trafficked in COVID-19 misinformation, falsely suggested in a Short posted to American Thought Leaders that the vaccine is causing miscarriages, stating: “I saw many more miscarriage, I saw more malformations, I saw more cardiac defects. … I saw more … abnormal-appearing placentas and dead fetuses.” The Short has nearly 150,000 views. YouTube removed the Short prior to publication “for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines."
- In a Short posted to podcaster Steven Crowder’s YouTube account, he falsely said that hospitals have no treatment for COVID-19 and suggested that ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine were reasonable alternatives. In another Short with nearly 700,000 views, Crowder said Infowars’ Alex Jones was “entirely right” to take ivermectin.
- In a Short posted to Elijah Schaffer’s channel, Schaffer said, “Young, healthy people were lied to by Big Pharma and the government and told to take the ‘safe and effective’ injections that we now know, like the JAMA medical journal says, people 19 to 35 years old are at higher risk for myocarditis and paralysis,” as a clip of young people appearing to have adverse reactions to the vaccine played.
Shorts promoting Nick Fuentes’ misogyny and racism
YouTube has a history of failing to remove racist videos and profiting from racist and violative content. The platform banned white supremacist and Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes in 2020 for hate speech, but several of his associates, including followers who call themselves “groypers,” seemingly maintain active YouTube accounts and post Shorts promoting his racist and misogynistic ideology.
- Dalton Clodfelter is a white supremacist groyper and Fuentes associate. He seemingly has a YouTube account — Reactionary Media — where he has posted homophobic and sexist Shorts, including one of Fuentes that was removed just prior to publication for violating YouTube's Community Guidelines, in which he said: “Women’s liberation, starting a couple hundred years ago, is the beginning of the end of Western civilization. I think that women being educated, women going into the workforce … I think it’s completely wrecking the country in basically every way. I think that women essentially have kind of two trajectories in life. They can be mothers and prostitutes.”
- Kai Schwemmer is a groyper and Fuentes follower who regularly posts clips and full episodes from his streaming show on Fuentes’ platform Cozy.tv to his YouTube channel Kai Clips. Schwemmer’s account uploaded its first Short in December 2022, which was a clip of him and fellow Fuentes associate John Doyle with text reading “I am Racist.”
- Vincent James Foxx is a Holocaust denier who runs the white nationalist outlet Daily Veracity, which appears to have an active YouTube account that posts Shorts. Foxx reportedly served as the treasurer of Fuentes’ racist America First organization. In a Short posted to the account, Foxx says that Detroit, St. Louis, and “other high crime areas” were good “until the white people left. … The businesses left because black people, for the most part, were committing a lot of crime.” In another Short, Foxx laughed at a clip of a man Foxx said was Black being forcefully detained by police and mocked him telling officers that he “can’t breathe.”