Now CHESS is racist? YouTube blocks chess channel for alleged “racism”
07/05/2022 // Ramon Tomey // Views

Video streaming site YouTube blocked a chess player's channel because of allegedly posting "harmful and dangerous content" – consisting mainly of conversations about the sport. It was later found that the site's algorithm misinterpreted the dialogue in the chess player's videos as racist language. The streaming platform owned by Google did not provide a reason for the ban, but the player's channel was restored a day later.

Croatian chess player Antonio Radi?, known as "agadmator," was the unfortunate victim of YouTube's faulty algorithm. Radi?'s channel is considered the most popular chess channel on the platform, with more than a million subscribers. His review of a 1962 match between Russian chess bigwigs Rashid Nezhmetdinov and Oleg Chernikov is the channel's most popular video, with more than 5.5 million views as of writing.

The 33-year-old wedding videographer established his YouTube channel in 2017. The channel's revenue exceeded the amount he earned from his day job a year after Radi? set it up. He told ESPN in an August 2020 interview: "I always loved chess, but I live in a small town and there weren't too many people I could talk to about [it.] So starting a YouTube channel kind of made sense."

But the chess enthusiast found his channel blocked in June 2020 after he posted a segment with five-time champion and chess grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura. Radi? was talking about the two opposing sides in a chess game – black and white – with Nakamura, the youngest American to earn the grandmaster title.

Radi? appealed against the ban, and his channel was reinstated within 24 hours. He surmised that his use of the phrase "black against white" in his segment with Nakamura caused the ban.


Meanwhile, YouTube declined to elaborate on what caused the ban on Radi?'s channel. The video streaming platform said: "When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it." A YouTube representative added that uploaders can appeal removals for another review, which Radi? did. "[He] appealed the removal, and we quickly reinstated the video," they said.

Computer scientists confirmed that YouTube's over-eager algorithm caused the ban

According to Carnegie Mellon University computer scientists, the mention of "black against white" during Radi?'s video with Nakamura may have accidentally triggered Youtube's artificial intelligence filters. The video streaming plaftorm uses AI algorithms alongside human moderators to filter out prohibited content. But these algorithms can flag harmless videos if not fed the right examples to provide context. (Related: Google-owned YouTube now promoting pedophilia with its new "fairness" algorithms.)

Computer scientist Ashiqur KhudaBukush believes Radi?'s hunch was correct regarding the reason for his ban. He and his colleague Rupak Sarkar then ran tests on two speech classifiers – AI software than can be trained to detect hate speech – to test his theory.

The two researchers used the speech classifiers on more than 680,000 comments from five popular YouTube chess channels. They found that 82 percent of the comments in a sample of 1,000 did not include any obvious racist language or hate speech. However, the comments included terms like "black," "white," "attack" and "threat" – which may have activated the AI filters. KhudaBukush and Sarkar presented their findings at the yearly Association for the Advancement of AI conference in February 2021.

KhudaBukush said the accuracy of AI software depends on the examples it is given. He noted that YouTube data fed to these filters "likely include few examples of chess talk, leading to misclassification." Thus, he and Sarkar suggested that social media platform incorporate chess language into their algorithms to prevent further issues.

"We don't know what tools YouTube uses, but if they rely on artificial intelligence to detect racist language, this kind of accident can happen," KhudaBukush said. He continued that if someone as well-known as Radi? is being banned by accident, "it may well be happening quietly to lots of other people who are not so well-known." (Related: Former Google bigwig launches AI "church" that positions technology as GOD.)

Head over to to read more about bans caused by YouTube's faulty AI software.

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