Google-owned YouTube ramps up monitoring of disturbing videos

Ivan Schwartz
December 6, 2017

Recently, British media reported that big brand advertisements were tied to the videos of children and teens, which drew inappropriate public comments.

So while some 150,000 video nasties have been purged from YouTube and two million videos screened since June for violent extremist content, Google is ramping up its efforts to sweep away extremists and hateful content.

The human reviewers will be responsible for removing videos which violate the terms and conditions of the site, and the team will also work together to teach computers in picking troublesome videos, confirmed Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube in a blog post.

In a tacit admission that its much-hyped artificial intelligence still lags behind humans, Google said it would increase the number of people it has monitoring YouTube for offensive and extremist content to 10,000.

Several advertisers, included Mars Inc., Adidas and Diageo, said they would pull their campaigns off YouTube in the aftermath, fearing the videos would attract pedophiles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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At the time YouTube also said it was developing a way to redirect users searching specific keywords on the website to playlists featuring videos that counter extremist content. Equally, we want to give creators confidence that their revenue won't be hurt by the actions of bad actors.

"It's important we get this right for both advertisers and creators, and over the next few weeks, we'll be speaking with both to hone this approach". It's unclear how many people are already part of YouTube's review team.

Wojcicki said that while Youtube was a "force for creativity, learning and access to information" she had also "seen up-close that there can be another, more troubling, side of Youtube's openness".

YouTube is now training its machine-learning technology to tackle other areas including child safety and hate speech.

She said advances in machine learning meant Youtube could take down almost 70 per cent of violent extremist content within eight hours of it being uploaded and almost half of it within two hours. The website said it is drastically increasing the number of people in charge of overseeing content. "But no matter what challenges emerge, our commitment to combat them will be sustained and unwavering".

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