YouTube Updates Harassment Policy to Curb Threats and Personal Attacks
- YouTube announced new bullying and harassment policies that will prohibit implied threats and malicious insults based on a person’s sexuality, race, or gender expression.
- Under the new policy, channels who show a pattern of harassing behavior by continuously making remarks that come close to violating the harassment policy could also receive consequences.
- These changes come several months after a public controversy where former Vox host Carlos Maza accused conservative commentator Steven Crowder of harassing him on his channel. While Crowder did repeatedly call Maza names like “lispy queer,” YouTube said this was not a violation of their policy.
- Many were not happy with YouTube’s new policy, resulting in #YouTubeIsOverParty trending on Twitter. Some creators say they have already been impacted by the guidelines.
YouTube’s New Policy
YouTube announced new policy changes that will prohibit implied threats and malicious insults based on a person’s sexuality, race, or gender expression.
In a Wednesday blog post, the company announced that it was tightening the rules in regards to its bullying and harassment guidelines. These rules come after months of review with creators, experts from bullying organizations, free speech proponents, and advisers along all sides of the political spectrum.
“Harassment hurts our community by making people less inclined to share their opinions and engage with each other,” YouTube’s post said. “We heard this time and again from creators, including those who met with us during the development of this policy update.”
The company’s first major change aims to take “a stronger stance against threats and personal attacks.” YouTube’s guidelines previously said videos with explicit threats in them would have actions taken against them, and its new policy extends that to include videos with veiled or implied threats.
“This includes content simulating violence toward an individual or language suggesting physical violence may occur,” the post explains.
On top of threatening someone, this will also cover demeaning language that YouTube feels crosses the line. This will include “content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”
YouTube also addressed consequences for a “pattern of harassing behavior.” The company’s post says that creators found that harassment sometimes stemmed from remarks repeatedly made over the course of a series of videos or comments. Even though these individual videos or comments may not directly violate YouTube’s policy on their own, the company still has a plan to combat this.
“Channels that repeatedly brush up against our harassment policy will be suspended from [YouTube Partner Program], eliminating their ability to make money on YouTube,” YouTube said. The platform added that this content could be removed, and channels could receive strikes or be terminated.
YouTube clarified that these changes would also apply to the platform’s comment section, not just the videos posted. The company believes this will result in the number of comments removed from the site increasing, noting that 16 million were removed in their third quarter.
YouTube also outlined newer tools that have recently been added that give creators some control over their comment section.
“When we’re not sure a comment violates our policies, but it seems potentially inappropriate, we give creators the option to review it before it’s posted on their channel,” YouTube said.
In the early stages of the roll-out, YouTube saw a 75% reduction in user flags on comments. Most creators now have this setting, but can opt-out of it if they would like. They can also ignore the held comments.
“We expect there will continue to be healthy debates over some of the decisions and we have an appeals process in place if creators believe we’ve made the wrong call on a video,” the company said of this new update.
Why Did YouTube Change Its Policy?
Many believe these changes were prompted by the controversy between Carlos Maza, who hosted a series for Vox, and Steven Crowder, who hosts a series called Louder with Crowder on YouTube. Back in May, Maza tweeted a thread calling Crowder out for repeatedly calling him names on his show. Crowder repeatedly referred to Maza as “Mr. Gay Vox,” a “lispy queer,” and “gay Latino from Vox” in a mocking tone.
Crowder defended himself, saying this should not count as bullying, as he made these comments while providing criticism of Maza’s series. YouTube ended up responding to Maza saying that his comments, while potentially offensive, did not violate their policy.
Maza continued to call YouTube out for this decision. He said this “gives bigots free license” and accused the site of using its gay creators. Many criticized YouTube’s response, which came in June as the company celebrated pride month. Some found it hypocritical for the company to be publically celebrating the LGBTQ community while also allowing comments some perceived as homophobic to stay on their site.
Because of all this backlash, YouTube ended up suspending Crowder’s revenue. This decision was also met with outrage.
Maza and Crowder React
Maza tweeted a thread about the new policy on Wednesday morning. He claims that the real problem is whether or not YouTube will enforce it on all creators, which he thinks is unlikely.
“YouTube loves to manage PR crises by rolling out vague content policies they don’t actually enforce,” he wrote. “These policies only work if YouTube is willing to take down its most popular rule-breakers. And there’s no reason, so far, to believe that it is.”
Before YouTube made their official announcement, Crowder posted a video titled “Urgent. The YouTube ‘Purge’ Is Coming.” The video was uploaded Tuesday and is based largely on murmurs about what was to come. He said the policies could silence and negatively impact his channel and others like it.
“Obviously my heart goes out to any future conservative or any future independent voices that are affected because people got their feelings hurt,” he said.
Policy Gets Negative Feedback
Other creators also shared their reactions, with some saying they were already being impacted by the new changes. Ian Carter, known online as iDubbbz, tweeted a screenshot of an email from YouTube saying his video “Content Cop: Leafy” was taken down for violating guidelines.
He uses vulgar and antagonistic language in the video, and jokes about bullying being okay. Many, however, don’t think the video should have been removed as it was meant to call out someone else’s bad behavior.
Another creator, Gokanaru said his video critiquing h3h3 productions was removed.
Some online were frustrated with this, noting that their videos should not be taken down while someone like Onision, who has been accused of predatory behavior and grooming, still has videos online.
#YouTubeIsOverParty was a trending topic on Twitter by late Wednesday morning. Many used the hashtag to say that the policy could negatively impact creativity on the platform and that YouTube should not try to make this seem like this was a policy that creators asked for.
Even though the trending topic gained a lot of traction, YouTuber Taylor Harris said that as far as the use of the site goes, YouTube will likely be unimpacted.
See what others are saying: (Axios) (Tech Crunch) (Vox)
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Associated Press) (People)
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.