YouTube Hate Speech Crackdown Has Wiped Out 17,000 Channels, New Numbers Show

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Since tightening its controls on content in an effort to limit hate speech in June, YouTube says it removed 17,000 channels and 100,000 videos in the second quarter, both fivefold increases over previous periods.

In a blog post Tuesday, the company said it has also reduced views on videos that are later removed for violating our policies by 80% in the past 18 months.

“We spent months carefully developing the policy and working with our teams to create the necessary trainings and tools required to enforce it,” the company wrote. “Though it can take months for us to ramp up enforcement of a new policy, the profound impact of our hate speech policy update is already evident in the data.”

The Google-owned video platform has been under a microscope for its role in amplifying hateful content. It also has been accused of not acting swiftly enough to limit the spread of objectively harmful material such as the New Zealand mosque shooter’s videos. Some advertisers have also pulled out or limited their buys on the platform out of a concern that their messages will appear next to objectionable content.

At the same time, YouTube has elicited howls in some corners with moves like de-commercializing the channel of right-wing provocateur Steven Crowder. In June, Crowder faced sanctions for his homophobic taunts of Vox writer Carlos Maza, a decision YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has defended.

The mix of human review and machine learning required to police a neighborhood as vast as YouTube has led to missteps along the way, such as educational videos or channels about the rise of the Nazis in World War II inadvertently being spiked.

Harassment by YouTube creators of other creators remains an issue, the company has acknowledged. “We are also working to update our harassment policy, including creator-on-creator harassment,” the company wrote in the blog post. “We’ll share our progress on this work in the coming months.”

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