YouTube Promises Tighter Policies, More Transparency In 2018

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YouTube will work on additionally tightening its content policies but also provide more transparency around its efforts to do so over the course of this year, the company's Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki promised Thursday. Ms. Wojcicki's comments were made as part of a broader overview of YouTube's plans for 2018, with the 49-year-old describing the firm's focus on transparency and effective policy enforcement as one of its top priorities in the next 12 months. The executive acknowledged some of the current policies YouTube has in place are "nuanced and unique" to the platform but remains convinced that doesn't make them any less important, claiming that YouTube has "a serious social responsibility" to make sure its platform doesn't negatively affect people's wellbeing.

Some of the company's collaborations with independent organizations and advocacy groups meant to review its content guidelines are hence set to continue over the course of this year, with YouTube also planning to improve its policy enforcement by hiring more human reviewers and implementing more robust machine learning solutions meant to analyze the videos posted by its users. Google as a whole is seeking to have a content review team that's 10,000 people strong by the end of the year, Ms. Wojcicki revealed, though it's presently unclear how many of these employees will be solely dedicated to inspecting content on YouTube. Some of the new additions to the unit may come from the major hiring spree the Alphabet-owned company is planning to conduct in the coming months, with its CEO Sundar Pichai recently vowing Google will hire "thousands" new workers across nine states, in addition to building and expanding its offices in order to accommodate them. As part of a larger transparency push, YouTube will also start labeling government-sponsored channels, particularly those meant to serve news.

Ms. Wojcicki disclosed YouTube is presently working on policies that would sanction popular creators who do "something egregious" that negatively impacts the platform's community as a whole and lowers its reputation, without elaborating on the matter, save for saying the rules will only be applied in "rare" scenarios. The video streaming service had its share of controversies over the course of 2017 and even endured an advertiser boycott that's said to have cost it at least tens of millions of dollars and stemmed from a variety of controversial videos found on its platform. The company is now also seeking to improve its demonetization appeal system that will soon involve more human reviews and is looking to provide users with new ways to engage with videos, in addition to making general investments in education, Ms. Wojcicki said.

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