YouTube Warns Video Takedowns Could Be Higher During Coronavirus Crisis

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YouTube said it may remove more videos than usual — including those that don’t actually violate any policies — because of lower staffing levels during the coronoavirus epidemic.

That’s because YouTube is temporarily going to have to rely more on automated systems for video removals instead of human reviewers, the Google-owned video platform announced Monday. “[U]sers and creators may see increased video removals, including some videos that may not violate policies,” YouTube said in a blog post. YouTube said it won’t issue strikes on content that is taken down “except in cases where we have high confidence that it’s violative.”

Creators will still be able to appeal any YouTube takedown actions, but because of the reduced workforce levels those reviews will be delayed. YouTube is reducing in-office staffing “in certain sites,” as parent Google has encouraged employees to work from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. YouTube also cited the impact of workforce disruptions at third-party partners.

In addition to a potentially higher rate of video removals, YouTube said it will be more “cautious” on what content gets promoted, including livestreams. Reduced staffing levels also may delay other types of YouTube user and creator support and reviews, such as applications for the YouTube Partner Program and responses on social media.

“We recognize this may be a disruption for users and creators, but know this is the right thing to do for the people who work to keep YouTube safe and for the broader community,” the video service said.

Meanwhile, YouTube said the staff reductions will not change the updates on monetization of coronavirus-related videos announced last week. In February, YouTube classified the COVID-19 outbreak as a “sensitive event,” which made videos about coronavirus ineligible for ads under its advertiser-friendly guidelines. YouTube reversed that policy, saying it will enable ads for content discussing the coronavirus for select channels including those of news partners.

At the same time, YouTube said, it will continue to crack down on misinformation related to coronavirus, including removing videos that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or claim harmful substances have health benefits.