YouTube is working on policies that would punish creators who harm the community through egregious acts, as the popular video sharing site faces questions about how it handles violent and disturbing content.
Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki said that while YouTube’s unpredictability can yield tremendous rewards —like the fact that a reggaeton song, “Despacito”, become the most popular video in history — it also can produce what she called “unfortunate events” that compel YouTube to take a clear, principled stand.
Wojcicki doesn’t specifically mention Logan Paul, who uploaded footage of himself and his friends standing laughing next to the corpse of a man who committed suicide in Japan’s so-called “suicide forest” Aokigahara. The video attracted widespread criticism, and resulted in Paul being dropped from Google Preferred, YouTube’s top-tier ad program.
“While these instances are rare, they can damage the reputation and revenue of your fellow creators,” Wojcicki wrote in a blog post Thursday laying out YouTube’s priorities for the creator community. “So we want to make sure we have policies in place that allow us to respond appropriately.”
Wojcicki said YouTube recognizes it has a responsibility to get these emerging policy issues right, so it’s consulting with dozens of experts and third parties, including the Anti-Defamation League and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
YouTube also is tightening enforcement of its policies through a combination of human review and machine learning technology. Its goal, she said, is to bring the total number of people across YouTube and Google working to address content that might violate our policies to over 10,000.
Wojcicki is attempting to find a balance between fostering a creative community that produces the edgy content that attracts young viewers, but ensuring that this boundary-pushing content doesn’t go so far that it alienates advertisers or inflicts harm.
YouTube’s CEO also addressed “demonetization,” an issue that gained prominence in 2017 after another popular YouTuber, PewDiePie, uploaded a video that featured two men laughing as they held a banner that read, “Death to all Jews.” YouTube responded by pulling the ads from the anti-semitic video.
Wojcicki said she understands the frustration creators feel when they cannot collect ad revenue from the videos – and it worked to create an appeals process to respond to these concerns.
“We’ve heard loud and clear that we need a better system,” Wojcicki wrote. “We’re currently working on a more accurate solution that includes more human review of your content, while also taking your own input into account (since you know your videos best).”
At the same time, YouTube has tightened rules for its Partner Program, which allows creators to make money through advertising. Channels need to have a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and more than 4,000 hours of accrued watch time over the past 12 months to be eligible.