YouTube video deletions doubled during lockdown

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Reuters

YouTube has removed more videos than ever during the lockdown, the company says.

The second quarter of the year saw more than 11 million videos taken down, up from six million at the start of the year.

YouTube said it opted for “over-application” in its automatic systems when it was understaffed during the lockdown.

But it also meant that more videos were mistakenly deleted.

Normally “harmful content” would be sent to human reviewers, he says, but due to Covid-19 there were fewer reviewers working.

“One option was to redesign our technology and limit our application to what could be managed with our reduced review capacity,” the company said in a blog post.

The other option was “to throw in a larger network so that as much community-damaging content as possible is quickly removed” – and he chose to go that route.

The downside, however, was that some videos that didn’t violate the rules were mistakenly deleted by the system.

YouTube said it has seen an increase in calls from video creators – from 165,941 to 325,439.

The result was not unexpected – YouTube said in March that creators “may see an increase in video deletions.”

Normally, it only restores around 25% of videos that have been deleted automatically as a result of human review. That has now climbed to 50% of videos reinstated on appeal, he said.

YouTube has also implemented stricter automatic rules in areas such as “violent extremism” and “child safety”, which has tripled the deletions of videos.

As a result, child safety has overtaken spam as the primary reason for deletion.

YouTube video deletions

Reason for withdrawal, April – June 2020

YouTube relies on its automated features to perform almost all of its initial deletions. Between April and June, 10,849,634 videos were detected for the first time by the automated system – compared to 382,499 by ordinary users.

The rest came from a mix of “trusted flaggers”, NGOs and government agencies. Human users have actually reported significantly more videos – over 15.5 million during the reporting period – but only a small percentage of those were ultimately deleted.

And three-quarters of deleted videos had 10 views or less.

The company also cut nearly two million entire channels in the three-month period, which is not a significant increase from the previous quarter. Over 90% of them were about spam, scams or misleading information.

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