YouTube’s New Moderation Program Might Be Its Most Hated Change Yet

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  • Earlier this month, we asked a simple question: is YouTube over? That article was written in response to YouTube’s new “advertiser friendliness” policy, which has led to demonetization of videos from popular channels all across the platform. YouTube faced a serious backlash, including the trending Twitter hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty and videos from many of its top creators expressing their dissatisfaction with the change.

    We concluded at the time that no, YouTube is not over — even if its latest move alienated creators, there’s no platform that does what YouTube does nearly as well as YouTube does it (despite the efforts of alternatives like Vidme). The latest initiative from the streaming video giant probably won’t end YouTube, but it has strengthened the perception that the platform is becoming an increasingly unfriendly place for creators.

    Until now, YouTube has largely been moderated by algorithms and paid employees. That’s poised to change with the introduction of “YouTube Heroes.” The program, introduced in the video above, aims to conscript volunteers to moderate — or, perhaps, police — the content on the site. In the words of a support page on YouTube Help, YouTube Heroes is “a program designed to recognize and reward the global community of volunteer contributors.”

    Though the program also rewards adding captions and subtitles to videos, as well as contributing to the YouTube Help forum, the issue that’s getting all the attention is the ability of “Heroes” to flag inappropriate videos for removal — including, at the third tier of moderator power, the ability to flag videos en masse.

    Tubefilter points out that this move appears to be inspired by the crowdsourced moderation model seen on sites like Wikipedia and Reddit. The key difference is that neither of those sites reward moderators with “points” for removing content. YouTube Heroes, at least as it’s presented in its introduction video, appears to incentivize censorship.

    That may be the reason the video is one of the most universally condemned things on YouTube this week. As of this writing, it has over 200,000 dislikes to only around 3,000 likes — a sure sign that the community is rejecting this measure.

    The cherry on top? YouTube has disabled comments on the video, further fueling the fires of those who accuse YouTube of censorship.

    What do you think? Will this inspire creators to try to move on to other platforms, will YouTube cancel the initiative due to unpopularity, or will YouTube end up getting away with this? Let us know in the comments below or at @WhatsTrending on Twitter.