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YouTube video removals soar as software enforces rules

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Aug 26, 2020 - 04:10 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — YouTube said Tuesday that video removals soared in the second quarter of this year as the company relied more on software to enforce content rules to protect workers from the pandemic.

Slightly more than 11.4 million videos were pulled from the popular online platform, nearly double the number removed in the first three months of the year, setting a new quarterly record for the Google-owned company.

“When reckoning with greatly reduced human review capacity due to COVID-19, we were forced to make a choice between potential under-enforcement or potential over-enforcement,” YouTube said in a blog post with the latest enforcement figures.

The video-streaming site said it opted to “cast a wider net so that the most content that could potentially harm the community would be quickly removed,” realizing that without humans making judgment calls, some videos that don’t actually violate policies would be taken down.

YouTube devoted extra resources to reviewing take-down appeals, which doubled from the previous quarter but remained less than 3 percent of the total, according to the company.

For decisions on removing content such as violent extremism and child safety, YouTube tolerated a lower level of accuracy that resulted in a tripling of the number of videos pulled for breaking those rules, the report said.

About a third of all the videos removed in the quarter were done so for endangering child safety, with such content including dares or challenges to do things that could get them hurt.

Another 28 percent of the removed videos violated rules against spam, scams and misleading content, according to the report.

“We are continuing to improve the accuracy of our systems and, as reviewers are able to come back to work, we are deploying them to the highest impact areas,” YouTube said.

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