Last week, YouTube launched YouTube Heroes, a support program for its “particularly active” users who report videos which violate its community guidelines, add captions and subtitles and help other users in Google’s forums.
Earlier this month, the company also shed light on its advertiser-friendly content guidelines which penalizes users who upload videos which it deems “not advertiser friendly.” Videos which violate the guidelines will not be eligible content monetization.
YouTube said the guidelines were provided because content which would be acceptable under its policies wasn’t always “appropriate for Google advertising.” However, it also added that advertisers also had their own standards and requirements for content. It added that advertisers also had their own standards and requirements for content.
YouTube defines ad friendly content as (but not limited to)
– something appropriate for all audiences
– little or no mature content in the video stream, thumbnail or metadata
– sexually suggestive content including partial nudity and sexual humour
– violence including display of serious injury and violent extremism
– inappropriate language including harassment, profanity and vulgar language
– promotion of drugs and regulated substances including selling, use and abuse of such items
– controversial or sensitive subjects and events including war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown
YouTube says that it will not approve above type of content for monetisation and if it did, the video may not be eligible for all available ad forms. “Remember: Context is key. We understand that high-quality content isn’t always sanitized, especially when it comes to real world issues. If your video has graphic material in it, you can help make it advertiser-friendly by providing context,” the help page said.
YouTube then elaborated on content appropriate for advertising stating that
– users needed to add a title and thumbnail representing the content of the video
– appeals to brand advertisers
– should not use explicit language or imagery and
– should not embed promotions for their own sponsors which could lead to advertiser conflict. Its paid product placement policy.
The page added that videos in the Restricted Mode may not necessarily be not monetisation friendly. However, Google will not let users monetise age restricted videos and may stop serving ads on them.
Flagging down content
Currently, YouTube Heroes is available to only select contributors with histories of ‘high quality community contributions.’ YouTube has also incentivised this platform for its users by giving them points and rewards for “next levels” where they get exclusive workshops, hangouts and content moderation in the YouTube Heroes Community site etc.
This is an extension of YouTube’s Trusted Flaggers program which provides tools to users and organisations who notify YouTube about its community guideline violations. The company, however, added that reported content is “always reviewed by YouTube before being removed.” Its internal teams check flagged content 24 hours a day. The company said that over 90% of the reports generated by its Trusted Flaggers are accurate, 3x more accurate than a regular flagger.
Note that Instagram recently rolled out a feature to let its users delete comments they did not find appropriate.
YouTube is right to incentivise YouTube Heroes for its video flaggers because A. they’re volunteers and B. YouTube does not pay them. When Instagram launched its comment deleting feature, we asked why Instagram was not able to tackle offensive content on its own, instead passing the buck to its users. Instagram’s community guidelines pretty much read similar to those of Facebook, Twitter, Google and reddit.
At the same time, the new ad friendly guidelines make it difficult for video uploaders to keep their content free of bias (because it is catering to certain guidelines) and also raises questions of freedom of expression. While it is understandable that advertisers won’t always like to associate with certain types of content, YouTube is trying to draw a line between its own interests: A. letting people upload as much video as possible and B. monetising that content for itself as well as the user. This has already not gone down well with YouTube creators. The video streaming service says that ‘context is key’ but we’ve seen that turn out badly for Facebook and even YouTube for that matter. A YouTube creator has also said that stripping monetisation was a form of censorship.
Our YouTube coverage.