YouTube’s comment section just became a lot less open after new policies enforced

YouTube harassment
YouTube has implemented a new policy which aims to cut down on online harassment. Photo: Pixabay.

Malicious content

Central to the new policy is the elimination of malicious content, such as racial slurs. Any uploaded content that could be considered harassing to protected groups and minors will also be affected. Google, which owns YouTube, has also outlined that both veiled and implicit threats will be outlawed, along with more explicit material.

Another form of content banned on YouTube from hereon in will be any videos that simulate or allude to violence against a particular individual.

YouTube has specified that it will take direct action against specific videos and channels that perpetually upload any sort of inappropriate content. But the comments section of YouTube is also covered by the new policy, with users who transgress the new guidelines likely to find their channels demonetized, suspended, or even deleted.

However, with YouTube being aware that its guidelines are particularly broad, some examples of exemptions have been outlined, which include descriptive performances, educational content, and even topical material related to high-profile individuals.

YouTube policies
A dispute involving conservative political commentator Steven Crowder has been highlighted in the debate over harassment. Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

YouTube claims that it met with content creators as well as Internet experts during the process of creating and finalizing its new harassment policy.

Community criticism

While there may have been criticism from some areas of the YouTube community, the fact remains that some form of update was almost inevitable, considering the problems that the platform has experienced with harassment. And the sheer size, reach, and popularity of YouTube has meant that harassment has been an even bigger issue for the video site than other social media platforms.

Several high-profile issues highlighted the problems with harassment on YouTube in recent months, perhaps most obviously when Vox reporter Carlos Maza having criticized YouTube for allowing personal attacks related to his race and sexual orientation by right-wing YouTuber Steven Crowder. Not only did the videos of Crowder remain on the site, but some of his viewers also harassed Maza.

Some are sceptical that the new policies will make much difference, though, noting that certain YouTubers do not rely on monetization. Effectively, YouTube would still be a free and open platform to them, with Maza having expressed his scepticism that the new policies will have a significant impact on harassment and prejudice on YouTube.

YouTube abuse
American video producer Carlos Maza was notably harassed by Crowder supporters on YouTube. Photo: New America via Flickr.

Quick response

Nonetheless, it is notable that YouTube has enforced these new harassment policy with surprising rapidity. On a site as vast and complex as YouTube, it would be expected for the platform to take a significant period of time in order to roll-out any major updates. Yet content creators are already reporting that videos have been deleted based on the new policy.

YouTube has long since become a phenomenon on the Internet, being ranked by Alexa as the second most popular website in the world, after Google itself. Another recent update by YouTube saw the video site reserve the right to delete channels that aren’t commercially viable.

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