What you need to know
- Google has announced new changes to tackle harassment and bullying on YouTube more rigorously than it currently does.
- It now prohibits implied as well as express threats.
- It will also come down harder on YouTube partners who toe the line repeatedly.
As of December 9, Google is tightening up its rules as regards to harassment. The company has now instituted several policies that ban the most insidious forms of bullying on its platform, including veiled threats and repeated near-violations. "This includes content simulating violence toward an individual or language suggesting physical violence may occur," YouTube's Matt Halprin, Vice President, Global Head of Trust & Safety said in Wednesday's blog post.
As it stood before this change, if a veiled threat could be interpreted innocently, YouTube moderators would be more likely to let it fly. This lead to criticism of the platform earlier in the year. Now, an application of this policy would probably take into account all sorts of contextual factors in making a judgment as to whether content counts as harassment or not.
YouTube will also be taking action against creators who repeatedly brush up against the lines it has drawn. It's hard to claim innocence when continually and consciously stopping just sort of the red line, YouTube seems to be saying here. It notes "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."
The firm will be removing any such creators from the YouTube Partners program and may even start taking down videos or strike the channel from the platform.
These policy changes also apply to comments as well as channels. YouTube is well aware of the free speech debate that's likely to pop up, and has noted that took it this action after consultation with "free speech proponents and policy organizations from all sides of the political spectrum."
YouTube has developed a reputation as being a cesspool and a hive of scum and villainy, it's good that Google's continuing to work at cleaning it up. Of course, YouTube has never had a shortage of good policies. The issue has always been the application, and that's hard to gauge from a single blog post.