You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

YouTube’s Cleanup Efforts Are Driving Business Opportunities for Creators, Says Product Chief Neal Mohan

YouTube continues to make headlines for objectionable content and misinformation hosted on the world’s biggest video platform. And it’s been criticized for not doing enough to combat the problems.

Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, is responsible for all of the service’s products, which reach more than 2 billion users each month. This week, he’s heading to the 10th annual VidCon creator/fan confab in the U.S., where the exec is set to deliver a keynote focused on YouTube’s efforts to empower creators with new ways to help them build communities and ultimately make money.

A big part of that mission, Mohan said, is to refine and enforce policies that keep the bad stuff off YouTube — so that the good stuff can thrive.

“What underpins everything [about YouTube’s mission to support creators] is our responsibility as a global platform, to make sure our platform is safe for everyone,” he said in an interview with Variety.

Mohan continued, “The way I really think about that is, it’s a continual effort to remove — as quickly as possible — any content that violates our guidelines, raising up reliable sources, and reducing the impressions of borderline content which maybe we shouldn’t be recommending as much.”

YouTube has been focused since its inception on “creating opportunities for creators,” Mohan claimed. The platform has introduced new products to help creators grow their audiences, such as YouTube Stories (short, mobile-only videos that expire after seven days), scheduled video premieres, and virtual-reality features. To scale those audiences into businesses, YouTube has been providing new monetization tools, including the introduction last year of Channel Memberships and a way for channel owners to sell merchandise.

And new this year, YouTube plans to roll out programs and tools for creators to support and raise money for causes. “YouTubers have shared that they want to use YouTube to generate funds and contribute resources for things that are important to them,” Mohan said. “My job as chief product officer is to find ways to make that simpler and easier.”

In addition to Mohan’s Thursday keynote at VidCon, YouTube will stage other events at the July 10-13 convention in Anaheim. It’s hosting screenings of and cast panels for two YouTube originals — season 4 of murder-mystery competition series “Escape the Night” with Joey Graceffa and comedy “Liza On Demand” season 2 starring Liza Koshy. At VidCon, YouTube also is hosting meetups for diverse creators, including Latino, Asian, black, and LGBTQ creators.

On July 11, it’s reprising YouTube OnStage, a live entertainment showcase in its third year, headlined by Meghan Trainor (who recently passed 10 million subscribers on her YouTube channel) along with performances from others including comedy duo Rhett & Link of “Good Mythical Morning”; “America’s Got Talent” finalist Sofie Dossi; and DJ Earworm.

“The core of the event is kind of like the YouTube platform coming to life,” said Mohan. “I see fans fly in from around the world to see their favorite creators for a few minutes.”

But life on YouTube isn’t a nonstop party. Alongside its creator-centered initiatives, YouTube has spent considerable time trying to clean up the platform.

Last month, it added a way for users to remove suggestions from channels they don’t want to watch. It also specifically banned videos that promote the idea that one group is superior to others, including neo-Nazi content, and said it will widen efforts to limit recommendations of “borderline content and harmful misinformation” outside the U.S. In addition, it has taken steps to reduce the risk children will be targeted by predators on the service, including banning young kids from live-streaming without adult supervision and blocking the ability to leave comments on nearly all videos with minors.

“We are continuously working on our community guidelines,” Mohan said. He maintained that changes YouTube has put in place have involved “months of work” including consulting with third parties across the world.

At Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has proposed a plan for users to appeal content decisions through an independent body. The Facebook Oversight Board would be comprised of 40 outside participants to make “decisions would be transparent and binding” — a kind of Supreme Court to rule on individual cases when questions come up about what should stay and what should get removed.

Could that work for YouTube? Mohan said the Google-owned video platform remains focused on establishing a workable set of community guidelines with clear and efficient enforcement. “We have always worked with third parties and external organizations,” he said. “You need a combination of incredibly well-trained raters, as well as technology.”

Meanwhile, Mohan declined to comment on a report last month in the Wall Street Journal last month that Google execs were debating the idea of moving all videos for children to the separate YouTube Kids app. The FTC is said to be investigating YouTube for possible violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits collecting data on kids 13 and under. YouTube hasn’t denied the WSJ story; a rep said in a statement: “We consider lots of ideas for improving YouTube and some remain just that — ideas. Others, we develop and launch, like our restrictions to minors live streaming or updated hate speech policy.”

Google tapped Mohan to head YouTube’s product and design in 2015. Previously, he was SVP of display and video ads at Google, after joining the internet giant in 2008 with Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick.

As for what YouTube’s biggest business challenges are at this point, Mohan stayed on message — citing the need to “let our creators grow in every sense of the term.”

“Whether you call it a challenge or opportunity, the conversation always goes back to: What is the magic of YouTube?” he said. “It’s building these awesome opportunities for the new creative economy. These creators are almost new companies in some sense.”

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Still from "Andhadhun"

    Microsoft Streaming Deal Lifts Shares in India’s Eros

    Shares of leading Bollywood film distributor Eros International soared by 38% on Thursday following news of the company’s link up with Microsoft to develop a new generation of video streaming platform. The multinational company said that its Eros Now video operation would work with Microsoft Azure to develop its technology in three ways. They seek [...]

  • Comcast X1 DAZN

    Comcast Adds DAZN Sports-Streaming Service to Xfinity Flex, Sets Launch on X1

    DAZN, the digital sports service headed by ex-ESPN boss John Skipper, is now available to Comcast broadband customers on Xfinity Flex and will be available on Xfinity X1 this fall. It’s the first distribution deal for DAZN with a major U.S. provider since it debuted the combat-sports-oriented service in the States a year ago. In [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Raises Bar for Channel Verification, Stripping Some Creators of Verified Status

    YouTube is making it harder for channels to receive a verification badge indicating their authenticity — and the program’s new requirements mean that some channels won’t be eligible for verification. Like other internet platforms, YouTube indicates to viewers that specific channels are officially run by the creator, artist, celebrity or company they represent with an [...]

  • BuzzFeed - Katie Sitter

    BuzzFeed Taps Activision Blizzard's Katie Sitter as Head of HR (EXCLUSIVE)

    BuzzFeed hired Katie Sitter, most recently an HR exec at Activision Blizzard, as senior VP of people. Sitter, who starts at the company Sept. 30, will lead the BuzzFeed HR organization and oversee strategic initiatives related to organizational planning, talent acquisition, learning and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, labor relations, and diversity, equity, and [...]

  • Kano

    Kano Tipped to Launch ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Frozen’ Coding Kits

    Educational consumer electronics startup Kano is getting ready to release “Star Wars” and “Frozen” coding kits, according to regulatory filings. Recent FCC filings made by the company reveal plans to release a product called “The Force Coding Kit” as well as one called “The Disney Frozen Coding Kit.” Kano representatives didn’t respond to multiple requests [...]

  • Apple Arcade

    Apple Officially Launches Apple Arcade Game Subscription Service

    Apple officially cut the ribbon for its new game subscription service Thursday: Priced $4.99 per month, Apple Arcade offers unlimited access to over 100 exclusive games. Apple Arcade was released alongside iOS 13, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Some of the titles available through the subscription package include “Lego Brawls” from Lego [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content