Tag Archives: YouTube

YouTube Has Blocked Russia’s Parliamentary Channel’s Account

Reuters reported that YouTube has blocked Duma TV, which broadcasts from Russia’s lower house of parliament, drawing an angry response from officials who said the world’s most popular streaming service could face restrictions in response.

According to Reuters, a message on YouTube said the Duma channel had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.” YouTube (owned by Alphabet, Inc.) had been under pressure from Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor and officials were quick to respond.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakhrova posted on Telegram: “From the look of it, YouTube has signed its own warrant. Save content, transfer (it) to Russian platforms. And hurry up.”

Roskomnadzor reportedly asked Google to restore access to the Duma channel immediately. “The American IT company adhere to a pronounced anti-Russian position in the information war unleashed by the West against our country,” Roskomnadzor said.

CNN reported a quote from a Google spokesperson. “Google is committed to compliance with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws. If we find that an account violates our Terms of Service, we take appropriate action. Our teams are closely monitoring the situation for any updates and changes.”

Here is what stands out to me: there are other video streaming services that Russia could potentially use now that their lower house of parliament’s YouTube channel is gone. Perhaps they could try to use Twitch, or Vimeo?

Twitter allows people to post short videos, and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram also can be used to post videos. Why isn’t Russia using those platforms? Oh, that’s right. It is because Russia itself restricted access to all of those platforms. According to Reuters, Russia also tried to ban Telegram, which is now widely used by their officials, but lifted its ban in mid-2020.

In my opinion, Russia’s lower house of parliament is trying to make the loss of their YouTube channel into something that it isn’t. Google is well known for blocking videos and channels that break their Terms of Service.

YouTube is Blocking Channels Funded by the Russian Government

YouTube said it will start blocking YouTube channels funded by the Russian government. The Verge reported that this comes after YouTube blocked channels like RT and Sputnik in Europe. Many of the details about this come from the YouTubeInsider Twitter account. The account is YouTube’s official account for updates to the press and media.

@YouTubeInsider posted a thread of tweets about this topic:

“1/ Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing, or trivializing well-documented violent events. We are now removing content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy”.

That tweet was quote-tweeting a previous @YouTubeInsider tweet from March 1, which was also a start of a thread. That tweet said: 1/ Today, we began blocking RT & Sputnik YouTube channels across Europe. Since Russian began its invasion in Ukraine, we’ve been focused on removing violative content & connecting people to trusted news & information. An overview of the steps we’ve taken in the last few days.”

Returning to the current thread of tweets:

“2/ in line with that, we are also now blocking access to YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media globally, expanding from across Europe. This change is effective immediately, and we expect our systems to take time to ramp up.”

“3/ Since our last update, our teams have now removed more than 1,000 channels and over 15,000 videos for violating not only our hate speech policy, but also our policies around misinformation, graphic content and more.”

“4/ Our systems are also connecting people to trusted news sources. So far, our breaking news and top news shelves on our homepage have received more than 17M views in Ukraine.”

“5/ In addition, we recently paused all YouTube ads in Russia. We’ve now extended this to all of the ways to monetize on our platform in Russia.”

“6/ Our teams continue to closely monitor the situation, and they are ready to take further action. We will continue to share updates as they become available.”

The Verge reported: While not being able to access channels like RT and Sputnik worldwide is an escalation from YouTube, Google had already made it so the channels couldn’t monetize their videos. In late February, the company said that Russia state media outlets wouldn’t be able to run ads on their videos.

The Hill reported that Facebook and Instagram similarly restricted access to Russian state media in Europe and have stopped recommending content by those groups to all users. The Hill also reported that Twitter has been “slapping labels” on all posts including links to Russia state media.

YouTube is Making Dislike Counts Private

YouTube announced it will be making the dislike counts private on YouTube. The dislike button itself will remain, but only the creator of the video will see how many dislikes a video got. This change will be rolling out gradually – starting today.

This decision by YouTube to change the way the dislike button is used was not done on a whim. It comes after an experiment with the dislike button, with the idea of seeing what happens if the number of dislikes was hidden from viewers. YouTube noted that the experiment ended on November 10, 2021.

Here is some explanation from YouTube about the change to the dislike button:

As part of an experiment, viewers could still see and use the dislike button. But because the count was not visible to them, we found that they were less likely to target a video’s dislike button to drive up the count. In short, our experiment data showed a reduction in dislike attacking behavior. We also heard directly from smaller creators and those just getting started that they are unfairly targeted by this behavior – and our experiment confirmed that this does occur at a higher proportion on smaller channels.

YouTube has made it clear that viewers can still use the dislike button. The difference is they won’t see how many other people have used it. The number of dislikes will only be viewable by the creator of the video through YouTube Studio.

YouTube also stated the following on their blog post:

We want to create an inclusive and respectful environment where creators have the opportunity to succeed and feel safe to express themselves. This is just one of many steps we are taking to continue to protect creators from harassment. Our work is not done, and we’ll continue to invest here.

As a person who puts their gameplay videos on YouTube – I am in favor of this change. It is always good when a company chooses to make an effort to prevent harassment. I’m hoping this change will make the angriest of commenters decide that using the dislike button isn’t fun anymore.

There is some evidence that removing the numbers from the dislike button works. The Verge reported: YouTube says that when it tested hiding dislike numbers, people were less likely to use the button to attack the creator – commenting “I just came here to dislike” was seemingly less satisfying when you don’t actually get to see the number go up.

YouTube will Remove Content that Alleges Widespread Election Fraud

In a lengthy blog post, YouTube announced updates to their work supporting the integrity of the 2020 U.S. election. This includes removing content that violates their policies. In addition to things that YouTube was already removing, the company will now remove content that alleges widespread election fraud.

Yesterday was the safe harbor deadline for the U.S. Presidential election and enough states have certified their election results to determine a President-elect. Given that, we will start removing any piece of content uploaded today (or anytime after) that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential elections, in line with our approach towards historical U.S. Presidential elections.

As an example, YouTube pointed out that they will remove videos claiming that a Presidential candidate won the election due to widespread software glitches or counting errors. News coverage and commentary on these issues can remain on YouTube if there’s sufficient education, documentary, scientific, or artistic context.

Part of YouTube’s blog post mentions that since Election Day, relevant fact check information panels, from third party fact checkers, were triggered over 200,000 times above relevant election-related search results, including for voter fraud narratives such as “Dominion voting machines” and “Michigan recount.”

The Hill reported that YouTube’s move does not appear to involve the removal of any content fitting that description if it was uploaded before Wednesday. The Hill also stated that YouTube has said that since September it has terminated more than 800,000 channels and “thousands of harmful and misleading elections-related videos” for violating its existing content policies.

Personally, I think YouTube is making good decisions about what to remove. The recounts are over. The courts have dismissed many (if not all) of President Trump’s election related lawsuits. Many states have certified their election results. There is no reason for YouTube to host misleading election related content anymore.

YouTube Takes Stronger Stance Against Personal Attacks

YouTube announced a series of policy and product changes that update how they will tackle harassment on the platform. It includes a stronger stance against threats and personal attacks, and consequences for those who engage in harassing behavior.

YouTube will now prohibit explicit threats and veiled or implied threats. This includes content that simulates violence towards an individual or language suggesting physical violence may occur. In addition, YouTube will no longer show content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as race, gender expression, or sexual orientation.

Something we heard from our creators is that harassment sometimes takes the shape of a pattern of repeated behavior across multiple videos or comments, even if any individual video doesn’t cross our policy line. To address this, we’re tightening our policies for the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) to get even tougher on those who engage in harassing behavior and to ensure we only reward trusted creators. Channels that repeatedly brush up against our harassment policy will be suspended from YPP, eliminating their ability to make money on You Tube. We may also remove content from channels if they repeatedly harass someone. If this behavior continues, we’ll take more severe action including issuing strikes or terminating a channel altogether.

In addition, YouTube will remove comments that clearly violate their policies. They will also give creators the option to review a comment before it is posted on their channel. Last week, YouTube began turning on this feature by default for YouTube’s largest channels with the site’s most active comment sections. It will roll out to most channels by the end of the year.

BuzzFeed News reported about a situation that happened on YouTube earlier this year between Stephen Crowder and Carlos Maza. According to BuzzFeed News, YouTube decided, after a review, that some of Crowder’s content crossed a line and will be removed from the platform.

Personally, I think that cracking down on harassment can only be a good thing. Nobody enjoys being the target of harassment, and I can see where that experience could cause a person to stop posting videos on YouTube. I really like that YouTube will kick repeat harassers out of the YPP program. Taking away the ability for a bully to make money on YouTube could be an effective deterrent.

Facebook and YouTube are Removing Alleged Name of Whistleblower

It is stunning how much damage people can do by posting the (potential) name of a whistleblower on social media, and having that name be passed around. This poses a dilemma for social media platforms. Both Facebook and YouTube are deleting content that includes the alleged name of the whistleblower that sparked a presidential impeachment inquiry. Twitter is not.

The New York Times reported a statement they received in an email from a Facebook spokeswoman:

“Any mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant or activist’,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.”

The New York Times reported that an article that included the alleged name of the whistleblower was from Brietbart. This is interesting, because Breitbart is among the participating publications that Facebook included in Facebook’s “high quality” news tab. (Other publications include The New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, Bloomberg, ABC News, Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News.) Facebook has been removing that article, which indicates that the company does not feel the article is “high quality”.

CNN reported that a YouTube spokesperson said videos mentioning the potential whistleblower’s name would be removed. The spokesperson said YouTube would use a combination of machine learning and human review to scrub the content. The removals, the spokesperson said, would affect the titles and descriptions of videos as well as the video’s actual content.

The Hill reported that Twitter said in a statement that it will remove posts that include “personally identifiable information” on the alleged whistleblower, such as his or her cell phone number or address, but will keep up tweets that mention the name.

YouTube Apologized for Changing Their Verification Program

CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki apologized to YouTube creators after the company received negative responses to YouTube’s new verification program. As a result, the new look for the verification badge will be delayed and will roll out next year. It is unclear exactly when that will happen. “Next year” could mean a few months from now.

CEO Susan Wojciki tweeted: “To our creators & users – I’m sorry for the frustration & hurt that we caused with our new approach to verification. While trying to make improvements, we missed the mark. As I write this, we’re working to address your concerns & we’ll have more updates soon.”

The updates were added that same day, on the YouTube’s Creator Blog titled: “Updates to YouTube’s verification program”. It is an attempt to clarify the changes to the verification badge. YouTube says the idea behind the update was to protect creators from impersonation and address user confusion. What were users confused about?

Also, nearly a third of YouTube users told us that they misunderstood the badge’s meaning, associating it with endorsement of content, and not an indicator of identity. While rolling out improvements to this program, we completely missed the mark. We’re sorry for the frustration that this caused and have a few updates to share.

Here are some things to know:

  • Channels that already have the verification badge will keep it and do not have to appeal.
  • All channels that have over 100,000 subscribers will still be eligible to apply for the verification badge. YouTube will reopen the application process by the end of October.
  • YouTube will verify channels that have over 100,000 subscribers The channel must also be authentic – meaning the channel represents the real creator, brand, or entity it is claiming to be. The channel must also be complete, meaning that it is public and has a description, channel icon, and content, and be active on YouTube.

To me, it seems like YouTube is very concerned about inauthentic channels that attempt to impersonate YouTube creators. That’s a good thing for YouTube to take action on.

The clarification that the badge means “an indicator of identity”, and not a sign that YouTube endorses the content on that channel, is sketchy. It feels like a loophole to allow YouTube to avoid taking responsibility for the worst content that appears on their platform.