YouTube is instituting new harassment policies after receiving backlash from creator-on-creator abuse

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YouTube institutes a new policy to protect creators. The video streaming platform revealed that it’s in the process of makingalterations to its harassment policies to lessen creator-on-creator abuse, per The Verge. Recently, the company faced intensebacklash when it refused to remove a video from creator Steven Crowder, who used homophobic slurs against fellow YouTuber Carlos Maza. Business Insider Intelligence

The incident surfaced the fact that the platform had no policy on creator-on-creator harassment, despite a proliferation of videos and channels that are essentially dedicated to intra-YouTube criticism.

The nuances YouTube has to navigate when enforcing any single policy mirror the broader juggling it needs to do to moderate the 500 hours of content uploaded to its platform each minute. They can span funny satire to full-on online bullying, wherein the videos become genuinely harmful and demeaning jokes.

The fact that all of these nuances live under one categorization of harassment represents a fundamental challenge for YouTube, and CEO Susan Wojcicki acknowledged as much in a recent interview: “The policy has to be written in such a way that creators can comment on each other and criticize each other.

The question is, how do you draw the difference between creators criticizing each other and being a part of this free speech and open ideas, and then where do you draw the line? Where do they cross the line? When it’s no longer ideas, but they’re criticizing them as a person.”

YouTube juggles multiple issues and interests at the same time as it tries to moderate the 500 hours of content uploaded to its platform each minute. Advertisers want YouTube to make its platform more brand-safe to protect their investment.

Regulators want its platform to be made safer for kids, and critics want regulators to pressure YouTube to make the platform safer for everyone. And its popular creators, many of whom are home-grown stars, want to be able to make a living. Wojcicki acknowledged that the company has yet to succeed in this balancing act.

An example: Her teamrecently came under fire for overcorrecting in the direction of brand safety, prioritizing repurposed media like movie trailers over user-generated content, and harming creators’ ability to monetize as a result. Still, she emphasized that she and her team are actively working to increase transparency on their moderation processes, and to prioritize creators going forward.

At the core of this balancing act is YouTube’s own priority — to maintain and grow user engagement it can monetize with ads — the limits of which are being contested more and more. If YouTube decides to crack down on certain popular creators who may produce harmful videos, it loses the monetizable engagement that creator generated.

If it doesn’t, it risks losing the loyalty of those calling for firmer action, and potentially brand dollars as well. YouTube has to run this muddled cost-benefit analysis, accounting both the long- and near-term, on every content moderation policy and enforcement decision it makes. With its new creator-on-creator harassment policy, YouTube is taking an admirable step to clarify the parameters of what content is permissible on the platform, and by extension, for it to make money from.

While the platform has already faced somebacklashover the policy, I’m confident that revamped harassment policies are ultimately in the best interest of YouTube’s many constituents.

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