Today, YouTube has formally announced an update to their harassment policy.
The post states that while direct, explicit threats of violence or harassment or revealing of personal information, veiled or implied threats will now also be removed. This means content that simulates violence towards an individual, or language suggesting violence may occur will be removed.
Content that uses hate speech towards other individuals - maliciously insulting them based on attributes such as race, gender expression, or sexual orientation - will also not be allowed. What’s really interesting here, is that the post states this applies to not just YouTube creators and private individuals, but public officials as well. We’ll see if they will actually be able to uphold this.
That first step was to directly remove problematic content, the next step is targeting creators who deliberately skirt the line of what’s acceptable, by tightening policies for the YouTube Partner Program. Channels that repeatedly come close to crossing the line with this new policy will be suspended from the Partner Program, thus removing monetization from their channel. Content on those channels may also be removed. Should the problem continue, strikes may be issued or outright termination may occur.
Lastly, comments are addressed - with YouTube comment sections being commonly referred to as “toxic cesspools” by many, this is important. YouTube has begun removing more and more comments that violate policies. Apparently more than 16 million comments have been removed just in Q3 of 2019 due to harassment - which you can read about in the Transparency Report.
The blog post states that the tool allowing creators to review comments before they are posted resulted in a 75% reduction in user flags on comments, and notes that the setting started being turned on by default for creators this year, as mentioned in our Creator Insider coverage.
Overall, these changes are a step in the right direction and something YouTube sorely needed. While it’s easy to start tweeting #YouTubeisoverparty when you’re not regularly impacted by this kind of thing and think it’s stifling creativity - this kind of thing can be a literal lifesaver in the long run. So much harassment and toxicity has bred on YouTube in past years, and it’s been great to see it reined in a little.
However, of course, as with any policy change some potentially not-rule-violating content will get picked up along the way. Most notably, the “Content Cop - Leafy” piece from creator iDubbbzTV was flagged this morning as violating community guidelines, sending the community around that kind of content into another hashtag flurry.
I don’t need to remind anyone the irony of using cancel culture - something inherently negative and toxic, and draining on creators who really don’t need another thing telling them they can’t succeed on a platform - to respond to anti-harassment and toxicity policies, but… well… there you have it.
If it’s decided that such content does not cross the line, hopefully it gets restored, but I definitely don’t think it’s something YouTube should waver on in the big picture; and I can think of some specific sections of YouTube that this needs to start hitting ASAP.
This comes following a blog post earlier this year in which YouTube stated they need to take a better look at harassment on the platform, as well as Susan Wohcicki’s “Four Rs of Responsibility” for YouTube.
Tech educator, '90s and '00s Nostalgia Nerd, Pixel and Framerate Junkie. 12 years on YouTube is a loooong time.