14-Year-Old YouTube Celeb Posts Anti-LGBTQ Content, Threatening Gun Selfie

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday August 6, 2019

A YouTube celebrity named Soph went too far with an anti-LGBTQ post and got her account taken down after violating YouTube's newly-revised policies around hate speech. She then tweeted out a photo of herself with what looked like an assault weapon and the caption, "youtube headquarters here I come," reports Buzzfeed.

The kicker? Soph — whose reportedly "racist" and "anti-Muslim" content had attracted close to a million followers — is only 14 years old.

The Verge reported on the story as well, noting that Soph had run afoul of YouTube's newly-instituted "three stokes" rule in which content creators can see their accounts suspended if they violate YouTube's guidelines three times within three months. Media sources reported the tipping point came when Soph posted an anti-LGBTQ screed titled "Pride and Prejudice" that ended with her inviting viewers to "male sure to blame me in your manifestoes" — an apparent reference to a spate of mass shootings in which the perpetrators posted white supremacist talking points prior to going on their rampages.

Fox News reported that the 12-minute anti-LGBTQ video touched upon "a range of false or discredited information about the LGBT community," and added that the video included a diatribe evidently addressed to someone imagined to be gay: "Fuck you. Die. Die. Fuck you and die."

Earlier this year, Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube, was cited by name by Soph in what seemed to be a death threat, reports recalled.

Buzzfeed noted that after that incident, YouTube acted to "demonetize her account."

YouTube has struggled to balance protecting free speech while not enabling hate speech. In June, when openly gay Vox video journalist Carlos Maza spoke out against being subjected to racist and homophobic attacks by Canadian YouTuber Steven Crowder and a veritable army of trolls from among Crowder's audience of 3.8 million people, YouTube crafted a new set of guidelines. The effort left some unsatisfied.

Speaking with Recode Senior Correspondent Peter Kafka at this year's Code Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, Wojcicki addressed the controversy directly.

"I know that the decisions we made was very hurtful to the LGBTQ community and that wasn't our intention at all," the CEO acknowledged. Even so, she said, the controversial commentary posted by Steven Crowder — whose years-long series of attacks on Vox video journalist Carlos Maza is full of demeaning references to Maza's sexuality and ethnicity — aren't going to come down.

"It's just from a policy standpoint we need to be consistent," Wojcicki said, adding, "if we took down that content, there would be so much other content that we need to take down."

Soph's tweet with the assault weapon and the threat against YouTube was later removed and Soph claimed it had been a joke. But questions about youth, violence, and early warning signs have emerged in the wake of revelations that one last weekend's two mass shooting perpetrators, a 24-year-old man named Connor Betts, had alarmed fellow students while in high school with a "hit list" and a "rape list."

A female former classmate of Betts, who reportedly murdered nine people in Dayton, Ohio, during an August 4 mass shooting outside a bar, told the media that "There was a kill list and a rape list, and my name was on the rape list."

Media sources said that although Soph is no longer on YouTube, she is still producing content — and selling merchandise — at other online sites.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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