Thanks Google! — YouTube Cracks Down on Dangerous Videos

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UPDATE (February 10, 2019): Another Positive Move by YouTube: No More General “Conspiracy Theory” Suggestions

When I feel that Google is making policy mistakes, I don’t hesitate to call them out as appropriate. I don’t enjoy doing this, but my goal is to help Google be better, not to see a great company becoming less so.

On the other hand, I much enjoy congratulating Google when they make important policy improvements — and yeah, it’s nice when this involves an area where I’ve long been urging such changes.

So I’m very pleased by Google’s newly announced changes to YouTube acceptable content rules, to significantly crack down on dangerous prank and dare/challenge videos on YouTube.

I’ve written about my concerns in this area many times, for example in “YouTube’s Dangerous and Sickening Cesspool of ‘Prank’ and ‘Dare’ Videos” (https://lauren.vortex.com/2017/05/04/youtubes-dangerous-and-sickening-cesspool-of-prank-and-dare-videos), approaching two years ago.

I am not unsympathetic to Google’s philosophical and practical preferences for a “very light touch” when it comes to excluding specific types of content from their YouTube platform. In a perfect world, if all video creators behaved responsibly in the first place, we likely wouldn’t be facing these kinds of challenges at all. But of course, the reality is that irresponsible creators of all sorts permeate vast swaths of the Internet ecosystem.

The new YouTube “Policies on harmful or dangerous Content” (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801964), should in theory go a long way toward appropriately addressing the kinds of concerns that I and others have expressed about dangerously inappropriate videos on YouTube.

Whether the new rules will actually have the desired positive effects will of course depend on how rigorously Google enforces these rules, and in particular whether that enforcement is evenhanded — meaning that large YouTube channels generating significant revenue are subject to the same serious enforcement actions as much smaller channels. 

Time will tell in this regard. But today, as someone who very much loves YouTube and who considers YouTube to be an irreplaceable aspect of my daily life, I want to thank Google for these positive steps toward making YouTube even better for us all. Kudos to the teams!

–Lauren–