Category Archives: YouTube

YouTube Shares its Plans for Removing Harmful Content



YouTube posted information on its official blog about its plan for removing harmful content. It is part of YouTube’s effort to live up to their responsibility while preserving the power of an open platform.

The plan consists of four principles:

  • Remove content that violates YouTube’s policy as quickly as possible
  • Raise up authoritative voices when people are looking for breaking news and information
  • Reward trusted, eligible creators and artists
  • Reduce the spread of content that brushes right up against YouTube’s policy line.

Over the next several months, YouTube will provide more detail on the work they are doing to support these principals. The first focus is on “Remove”. They have been removing harmful content since YouTube started, but accelerated it in recent years.

Because of this ongoing work, over the last 18 months, we’ve reduced views on videos that are later removed for violating our policies by 80%, and we’re continuously working to reduce this number further.

After reviewing a policy, YouTube may discover that fundamental changes aren’t needed. But, if the review uncovers areas that are confusing to the community, YouTube clarifies their existing guidelines.

For example, YouTube provided more detail about when a “challenge” is too dangerous for YouTube. YouTube’s hate speech update was launched in early June. YouTube says the profound impact of their hate speech policy is already evident. In April, they announced they are updating their harassment policy, including creator-on-creator harassment.

Another thing YouTube is doing, in addition to human reviewers, is the use of machine learning technology to help detect potentially violative content. In addition, YouTube is removing content that breaks its rules before that content is widely viewed, or even viewed at all. More than 80% of auto-flagged videos were removed before they received a single view in the second quarter of 2018.

For example, YouTube notes that the nearly 30,000 videos they removed for hate speech over the last month generated just 3% of the views that knitting videos did over the same time period. Personally, I love that something as creative and informative as knitting videos are getting so many more views than the awful videos that include hate speech.


YouTube Changes Manual Content ID Claiming Policies



YouTube has announced additional changes to its manual claiming policies that are intended to improve fairness in the creator ecosystem, while still respecting owners’ rights to prevent unlicensed use of content. This balancing act may, or may not, work out as people might hope it would.

One concerning trend we’ve seen is aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetized videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed. A little over a month ago, we took a first step in addressing this by requiring copyright owners to provide timestamps for all manual claims so you know exactly which part of your video is being claimed. We also made updates to our Creator Studio that allow you to use those timestamps to remove manually claimed content from your videos, automatically releasing the claim and restoring monetization.

YouTube is now announcing new changes to their manual claiming processes. Here are some key points:

  • Including someone else’s content without permission means your video can still be claimed and copyright owners will still be able to prevent monetization or block the video from being viewed.
  • YouTube will forbid copyright holders from using the Manual Claiming tool to monetize creator videos with very short or unintentional uses of music.
  • Copyright claims created by the Content ID match system, which are the vast majority, are not impacted by this policy.
  • Enforcement of these policies begins in mid-September. After that, copyright owners who repeatedly fail to adhere to the policies will have their access to Manual Claiming suspended.

Interestingly, YouTube points out: “Without the option to monetize, some copyright owners may choose to leave very short or unintentional uses unclaimed”. Creators can safely use the music and sound effects in the YouTube Audio Library.

From this, it sounds to me as though YouTube is fed up with copyright holders who act in predatory ways. They shouldn’t get to take the creator’s entire revenue from a long video just because a few seconds of a song is in it. Separating these claims from financial rewards is a good idea.


YouTube Allows Users More Control Over Suggested Videos



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.


Most Children who Watch YouTube Don’t Use YouTube Kids



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.


YouTube has a Content Problem



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 Turns Off Comments on Videos of Children



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 TV is Going Nationwide



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?