YouTube Tightens Harassment Rules With Policy Update

Google has updated its harassment policy for its YouTube video-sharing platform, with stricter controls over threats and personal attacks (or insults).

The search engine giant announced the changes to its harassment policy in a blog post, after its conducted a systematically review of all its policies, and “recognized earlier this year that for harassment, there is more we can do to protect our creators and community.”

According to the BBC, the change comes after a dispute between two YouTubers, namely journalist Carlos Maza who presents videos for the Vox channel, and rival Steven Crowder, who presents a right wing talk show on YouTube.

Harassment update

Crowder allegedly regularly made fun of the sexual orientation and ethnicity of Maza on some of his videos.

At first YouTube found his comments did not violate its policies, but then later restricted Crowder’s ability to earn advertising revenue due to “continued egregious actions”.

Now YouTube has updated its harassment policy.

“Harassment hurts our community by making people less inclined to share their opinions and engage with each other,” it blogged. “We heard this time and again from creators, including those who met with us during the development of this policy update.”

“We also met with a number of experts who shared their perspective and informed our process, from organisations that study online bullying or advocate on behalf of journalists, to free speech proponents and policy organisations from all sides of the political spectrum,” it said.

“We’ve always removed videos that explicitly threaten someone, reveal confidential personal information, or encourage people to harass someone else,” it said. “Moving forward, our policies will go a step further and not only prohibit explicit threats, but also veiled or implied threats. This includes content simulating violence toward an individual or language suggesting physical violence may occur.”

“We will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation,” it added. “This applies to everyone, from private individuals, to YouTube creators, to public officials.”

Political implications?

This could mean that certain politicians, particularly in the US, will need to be careful about their choice of language.

“As we make these changes, it’s vitally important that YouTube remain a place where people can express a broad range of ideas, and we’ll continue to protect discussion on matters of public interest and artistic expression,” said Google. “We also believe these discussions can be had in ways that invite participation, and never make someone fear for their safety.”

In 2018 a coalition of 23 child advocacy, consumer and privacy groups in the US filed an official complaint against YouTube.

They alleged that it violated child protection laws by collecting the personal data of, and advertising to, children under the age of 13.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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