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YouTube unveils stricter harassment policy

The company says it will now prohibit even ‘veiled or implied threats’

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Photo (c) Anatoliy Sizov - Getty Images
YouTube announced on Wednesday that it’s implementing a more stringent harassment policy in an effort to reduce the prevalence of hate speech and threats on its platform. 

The Google-owned video streaming giant said it will be removing videos that insult people based on race, gender, or sexual orientation, regardless of whether the victim is a private individual or well-known YouTube creator. 

YouTube said explicit threats, even those that are “veiled or implied,” will not be allowed on the site. Additionally, channels that exhibit a pattern of harassing behavior are subject to removal. 

“Channels that repeatedly brush up against our harassment policy will be suspended from the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), eliminating their ability to make money on YouTube,” the company said in a blog post. “We may also remove content from channels if they repeatedly harass someone. If this behavior continues, we’ll take more severe action including issuing strikes or terminating a channel altogether.” 

Cracking down on hateful comments

YouTube also said that almost all content creators now have the ability to review potentially harmful comments. 

“Beyond comments that we remove, we also empower creators to further shape the conversation on their channels and have a variety of tools that help,” YouTube said. “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 channels that enabled the feature when it was first introduced saw a 75 percent reduction in user flags on comments. The feature is expected to be extended to most channels by the end of 2019. 

The enactment of a tougher harassment policy on YouTube comes a few months after conservative comedian Stephen Crowder repeatedly mocked a progressive journalist based on his homosexuality and Latino background. The company said at the time that Crowder didn’t technically violate YouTube’s policies, but later it responded to the matter by stripping Crowder of his ability to make money off of ads.

YouTube says its tougher position on harassment is intended to create a healthier environment for users to share their ideas and opinions.   

"Harassment hurts our community by making people less inclined to share their opinions and engage with each other," wrote Matt Halprin, YouTube's global head of trust and safety.   

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