YouTube posted information today about ways they are giving users more control over their Homepage and Up Next videos. This appears to be done in response to users telling YouTube that they wanted more control over what they see.
Connecting our users with the content they love is important to us. We want to help viewers find new interests and passions – such as a new favorite artist, a new creator they can follow or simply the best food recipes. But there’s one true expert in what you want to watch: you. One thing we’ve consistently heard from you is that you want more control over what videos appear on your homepage and in Up Next suggestions. So we’re doing more to put you in the driver’s seat.
YouTube mentions three specific changes they are rolling out in the coming days.
Explore topics and related videos on your Homepage and in Up Next videos: YouTube is making it easier for people to explore topics and related videos. The options you see could be related to the video you are watching, videos published by the channel you’re watching, or other topics that may be of interest to you.
Remove suggestions from channels you don’t want to watch: YouTube has made it simple for you to tell them to stop suggesting videos from a particular channel. Just tap a three-dot menu next to a video on the Homepage or Up Next, then “Don’t recommend channel.” After that, you should no longer see videos from that channel suggested to you on YouTube. This feature is available globally on the YouTube app for Android and iOS and will be available on desktop soon.
Learn more about why a video may be suggested to you: YouTube will post information underneath a video suggested to you in a small box. It provides an explanation about why YouTube selected that video for you. This feature is now available globally on the YouTube app for iOS and will be available on Android and desktop soon.
Personally, I think this is a step in the right direction. Giving users more control over the videos that are suggested to them will likely make people more interested in using YouTube. Parents whose children no longer watch YouTube Kids might be able to use these new tools as a filter on YouTube.
The YouTube Kids app was designed for children who were age 13 or younger. According to Bloomberg, most of the children who are watching YouTube don’t use YouTube Kids.
Children who do watch YouTube Kids tend to shift over to YouTube’s main site before they hit thirteen, according to multiple people at YouTube familiar with internal data. One person who works on the app said the departures typically happen around age seven. In India, YouTube’s biggest market by volume, usage of the Kids app is negligible, according to this employee. These people asked not to be identified discussing private information.
The article also noted that many parents don’t know the difference between YouTube and YouTube Kids. So, it’s entirely possible that the children of those parents are watching the main YouTube – which is definitely not designed for kids to watch.
Children who leave YouTube Kids and start watching the main YouTube don’t want to go back to YouTube Kids. The main complaint appears to be that these children see YouTube Kids as “babyish”. They aren’t wrong about that. One of the biggest YouTube Kids channels is called Cocomelon. It is a channel of nursery rhymes.
Parents need to decide for themselves how comfortable they are about allowing their children to watch the main YouTube instead of the kid version. It wouldn’t be very hard for a child to accidentally come across disturbing content simply by clicking on the videos that an algorithm suggests to them. This is not to say that everything on YouTube Kids is entirely safe for children, as it has had some not-safe-for-kids content. YouTube has worked to try and remove that content.
Parents who are concerned about what their children are watching on YouTube have a few options. The way to have the most control is for the parent to pre-screen YouTube videos and then watch those videos with their child. Doing so will take time, but will enable a parent to replace the YouTube algorithm with their own, personal, judgement about what is safe for their child to watch.
What happens when a company allows everyone to use its website to post videos of whatever they want? Some people will post videos that are filled with misinformation. Others will post videos that seem to be intended to stoke hate or to provoke viewers into causing harm to people who are different from themselves.
Bloomberg posted a detailed article that focuses on YouTube’s content problem. The article includes information from people who used to work at YouTube and/or Google.
The article points out several of YouTube’s missteps regarding content regulation. It points to the problem of videos aimed at children that included explicit content. It notes the videos that are full of misinformation (about vaccines, for example). It mentions politically motivated videos that appear to be designed to evoke outrage, (by calling survivors of mass shootings “crisis actors”, as an example).
Overall, the Bloomberg article makes it clear that YouTube has a long way to go towards cleaning up the website. Many efforts created by YouTube workers to do so were rejected. The implication is that YouTube valued growth over quality of content.
Motherboard posted an article in which they reported that YouTube has not removed videos that contain “neo-Nazi and white nationalist propaganda”. It notes that other social media giants have banned or shut down that type of content after what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand.
According to Motherboard, YouTube has demonetized some of that content and placed those videos behind a content warning. But, the videos are still searchable on YouTube.
YouTube has a content problem. Some of the most disturbing videos on YouTube can actually cause people harm. Misinformation about vaccines leads to measles outbreaks. Videos that promote hate can influence viewers to cause physical harm to other people. YouTube needs to put more effort into removing that type of content.
YouTube posted an update on their Creator Blog that provides an explanation of their actions related to the safety of minors. YouTube has disabled comments on videos featuring minors.
Over the past week, we disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior. These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months. Over the next few months, we will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.
YouTube states that “a small number of creators” will be able to keep comments enabled on their videos that include minors. Those channels will be required to actively moderate their comments, beyond just using YouTube’s moderating tools and must demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior.
YouTube has been “removing hundreds of millions of comments for violating our policies.” They have launched a more effective classifier that will identify and remove predatory comments. The classifier does not affect the monetization of a video. The new classifier can detect and remove 2X more individual comments.
The Guardian has information of what happened that led to YouTube’s decision. It is a disturbing situation, and it might be better for some people to avoid reading those details.
The situation prompted an advertiser boycott of YouTube. The Verge reported that major corporations like Disney, Nestlé and Epic Games (maker of Fortnite) had paused their ad spending after discovering their ads were playing on videos that had predatory comments on them.
It is possible that the advertiser boycott was what influenced YouTube to take additional steps to protect minors. Even so, it is good that those protections are now being put in place. In addition to removing comments, YouTube has terminated channels that attempt to endanger children in any way.
YouTube announced announced some exciting news for cord cutters. As of today, YouTube is in the process of making YouTube TV available nationwide. They have launched this expansion to be available in time for Super Bowl 2019.
YouTube TV is rolling out to 95 markets starting today, covering 98 percent of households in the United States. The remainder will follow shortly thereafter.
Will it be in your area? YouTube has a FAQ that lists where YouTube TV will be available as of January 23, 2019. The same FAQ page shows the full list of available channels.
YouTube TV includes:
Over 60 networks, such as ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC. Plus, popular cable networks like TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, FX and on-demand programming
A cloud DVR with no storage space limits. This enables subscribers to record live TV and never run out of storage space. Also, you can record shows simultaneously without using data or space on your device.
The ability to watch YouTube TV on any screen – mobile devices, tablets, computers and TVs
accounts per household. Every YouTube TV membership comes with six accounts, each with its own unique recommendations and a personal DVR with no storage space limits
Half the cost of cable with zero commitments. A YouTube TV membership is only $40 a month and there are no commitments – you can cancel anytime.
Personally, I think anything that gives people the ability to drop their cable subscription is a good thing. YouTube TV is definitely going to be competition for the cable TV companies. Ideally, this will influence those cable companies to be better. If not… there’s still YouTube TV.
YouTube TV is clearly pitching itself as a great place to watch the Super Bowl. I think this will provide a “trial by fire” test for YouTube TV. Will things go smoothly for viewers, or will there be lag and connection drops because of the number of people trying to watch the game?
YouTube has introduced a new way for copyright owners to protect their work. It is called the Copyright Match Tool. It is designed to find re-uploads of your content on other channels.
Here’s how it works: after you upload a video, YouTube will scan other videos uploaded to YouTube to see if any of them are the same or very similar. When there is a match, it will appear in the “matches” tab in the tool and you can decide what to do next.
YouTube says they have been testing the Copyright Match Tool with creators for nearly a year to make it safe and effective for the whole community.
Here is what you need to know about how the Copyright Match Tool:
It is important that you’re the first person to upload your video to YouTube. The time of the upload is how YouTube determines who should be shown matches.
This tool is intended to find full re-uploads. If you find a clip of your content that you’d like removed, you can always report it via the copyright webform.
Once the tool has found a match, you can chose either to do nothing, to get in touch with the other creator, or request that YouTube remove the video. When you request removal you can do so with or without a 7-day delay to allow the uploader to correct the issue themselves. Takedown requests will be reviewed to make sure they comply with YouTube’s copyright policies.
Before taking action, YouTube asks that you carefully evaluate each match to confirm that you own the rights to the matched content and ensure that you believe it infringes on your copyright. YouTube says you should not file a copyright takedown request for content that you do not own exclusively, such as public domain content.
YouTube also says you should consider whether the matched content could be considered fair use or could be subject to some other exceptions to copyright and hence not require permission for reuse.
According to YouTube, the Copyright Match Tool is not Content ID. It says the Copyright Match Tool “does use similar technology used by Content ID, but the Copyright Match Tool is a unique tool designed especially for YouTube creators who have problems with unauthorized re-uploads.”
YouTube will start rolling out the Copyright Match Tool next week to creators with more than 100k subscribers. They are intending to monitor usage closely. YouTube will expand the Copyright Match Tool “over the next coming months” with the long-term goal of making it available to every creator in the YouTube Partner program.
I can see the potential for the Copyright Match Tool to help creators. But, I can also have some concerns.
If some steals your content from somewhere outside of YouTube, and posts it to YouTube before you can, it appears YouTube will consider the thief to be the rightful owner of the content instead of the actual creator.