YouTube has reportedly finally decided to take steps toward protecting all creators regardless of the size of their respective channels. Effectively an extension of its current anti-harassment policies, the new policy goes further by protecting all creators from attacks. That includes not just popular creators and public figures. It also includes celebrities and politicians.
Presumably, this will still allow for creators to criticize others. The company has previously faced scrutiny for how it handles videos that essentially fall under the purview of criticisms or from an educational perspective. The platform has run rampant with videos being removed that weren't necessarily violating the law in those regards.
The new rules protect attacks based specifically on race, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
Why is YouTube protecting creators now?
The alteration to the policies makes those abovementioned criticisms out-of-bounds for creators. Videos that contain those violations will be banned from YouTube. The underlying goal of the change to YouTube policy is obviously to protect all creators, even those that are ordinarily subject to more criticism because of how public they are.
But the change didn't necessarily come easily. It also comes amid a number of internal conflicts at YouTube parent company, Google. The search giant has faced increasing scrutiny for its treatment of employees amidst allegations of sexual assault, among other things. Its responses on that front have been, according to employees, lackluster.
Many have left the company over the controversy and lack of action. Some have been let go under less inscrutable terms.
Following attacks perpetrated by conservative pundit and YouTuber Steve Crowder against Vox journalist Carlos Maza, a similar sentiment has been resurgent. In particular, LGBTQ members at Google have been outraged that Mr. Crowder was able and allowed to verbally assault Mr. Maza personally. Malicious attacks included Mr. Crowder lashing out at Mr. Maza as a "lispy queer.
That attack came alongside dozens of other insults and statements that would no longer be allowed under the new YouTube policy.
Will this make a difference?
It isn't immediately clear how effective the new policy will be. As with prior policies, this won't automatically fix everything.
There is also a chance that the policy will be abused. There is not only plenty of room that the policy may be used in an attempt to silence others by illegitimately flagging videos. Videos may also end up flagged inappropriately by Google.
On the one hand, that's just another of many tacts that have become prevalent on YouTube, forcing creators to consider other apps. On the other hand, Google itself has, in the past, illegitimately flagged videos. AI will be used as part of that, possibly making matters worse since that is still imperfect. For YouTube creators, that is a detrimental setback since it impacts monetization, channel growth, and more.
With luck, the new policy could be equally effective for the same reasons. It may serve as a motivator, monetary and otherwise, to stop YouTube videos from being made that blatantly attack users. Google is intended to be a platform for the free spread of ideas. The policy goal of placing the focus back on ideas instead of personal attacks may be the right step, even if it took a long time to go into place.
The update reportedly goes into effect today.