YouTube Vaguely Updates Policies On Harassment And Cyberbullying
(Last Updated On: June 20, 2016)

If you make videos and upload them to YouTube, you’ll need to be wary of their new policies concerning harassment and cyberbullying. You could find your account being reported and your content removed if YouTube determines that your content contains harassment or cyberbullying material.

Kotaku in Action user CrazyTheFox15 was quick to spot out the change in YouTube’s policy change, since those who frequent KIA are usually very keen on keeping a close eye on censorship and authoritarian content control.

Over on the YouTube policy page the only new thing that they’ve added within the last six months is a line under the “Harassment may include” section that reads:

Incitement to harass other users or creators.

Now this obviously refers to videos where someone specifically tells others to go harass someone or go harass certain content creators. But is that all?

The language they use here instantly brings to mind critical videos of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. For instance, are videos critical of Trump or Clinton that result in people getting riled up at their respective supporters a situation where the videos could be labeled as “incitement to harass”? What about videos that get people motivated to actively protest or disrupt speeches, like what happened with activist and journalist Milo Yiannopoulos – who is also on YouTube – where HeatST reported that the speech at the University of Central Florida had to be canceled due to security concerns? How about videos critical of religious practices that can be tied to tragedies, similar to what happened with the shooting at the gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida? Do videos promoting that kind of behavior fall into the “incitement to harass” category?

Deciphering the language is such a tricky thing. In fact, over on the sub-Reddit Let’s Play – a sub dedicated to YouTube’s video game Let’s Play culture – has already garnered less than enthused responses from its members.

Viznomaly wrote…

“[…] the problem I see is that a lot of this is very vague and doesn’t strongly outline what is harassment or what action Youtube is even going to take against it. Reading carefully before the bullet point list you see they say, “Harassment MAY include:” It’s ultimately up to Youtube to decide what they consider harassment and sadly it may not always be consistently enforced. Sadly I don’t see much changing with this.”

Sarah_Lou_Who was a bit on the fence, liking some of the rules but feeling uncomfortable with others, writing…

“I feel like some of these are really good, like the bit on inciting harassment since there are some big names out there who have been known to sick their audience on other weaker individuals for one reason or another and this will probably help bring an end to that crap. However, a few of those could potentially stifle certain videos due to the vagueness of some of the rules.”

In some regards, these rules could specifically target trolls as well. There’s practically an entire sub-culture centered around videos of people trolling, humiliating and angering other people. But do we chalk up this kind of content as parody and fun? Or is it mean-spirited harassment?

A perfect example is something like Minnesota Burns, who was known for getting a rise out of people with content like the following.

There are also channels like BCC Trolling that gets millions of views posting up videos from users that troll people to the point of uncontrollable raging.

Previously, YouTube had updated their rules months ago to include the following statement about the kind of content that could be considered “Harassment”: Deliberately posting content in order to humiliate someone.

Do they mean humiliate anyone or just YouTube users?

Essentially, if they start enforcing these rules there will be countless YouTubers will millions of subscribers that would no longer have a place on Google’s video service.

They don’t exactly explain why they updated the Harassment and Cyberbullying policies. It’s not clear if some recent event occurred or a bunch of users and creators made complaints, but adding in the blurb under some of the other rules about inciting harassment on other users or creators will have interesting results on who gets hit hard by YouTube’s moderation team.

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Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • Hawk Hopper

    A lot of what I watch could be considered “harassment” or “humiliating others”.

    I’ve noticed an increase in videos criticizing Islam and Muslims. I wonder how many of these will be banned and how many of these channels will be suspended for the sake of “be nice or else”.

    Like watch this video and image what the censors at YouTube would think of it.

  • LurkerJK

    I think if you asked most youtubers they would say that content ID is the worst sort of harassment they have to deal with, i got tired of listening “oh we can’t show you that, we would get flagged” or “oh i cant post the live stream footage because there is some song in the background and it blocks it in all countries” during E3, youtube has their content creators fucking TERRIFIED every time they upload a video

    Lets add ambiguous policies about “cyberbulling” on top of that, awesome

    • Yep, that’s one of the reasons I steer clear of uploading videos from big AAA studios. They’re quick to say “Here, upload this new trailer” and then turn around and block it worldwide or hit you with a copyright strike. Ubisoft was particularly notorious for doing that a few years ago.

      The whole music thing is also pretty ridiculous because even some tune that only plays for a few seconds in a single part of the video can render it blocked worldwide.

      I’m curious to see how YouTube enforces this new harassment policy and how well content creators will respond?

  • scemar

    anytime twitter, youtube, facebook, etc all that crowd make a move to counter “harassment” they really only end censoring more opinions that disagree with certain narrative while still ignoring harassment if it happens to the wrong people

    it’s become normal for them to be this dishonest

  • Cheshire

    The reason why they do it is clear, so I’m just going to say that I think it’s stupid that they don’t make their rules crystal clear. Instead of this perpetual vague poop.

    • C G Saturation

      Authorities love vague rules. It lets them apply the rules to everything.

      • Clairity

        Example: the Chinese government are intentionally vague about what they do and do not permit so that people will stay as far away from the line as possible. It may be cynical, but this might be what Youtube is trying to do – either that or they’re just outright idiots, which is very possible.

    • scemar

      How to censor and get away with it:

      -Make vague rules so you can choose when to enforce and when not to enforce

      -make the news people publish headlines that are positive to you and ignore your history of bias, and the vagueness of your rules, with headlines like “hurray new anti harassment measures from youtube” to convince people your actions are good


      -censor people talking about censorship

      • -censor people talking about censorship

        This is the one that ALWAYS gets to me. If these ding-heads want to enact censorship then that’s one thing, but when they start to censor people who talk about censorship, all it does is incite the Streisand effect. It never fails.

        Usually I’m willing to ignore a lot of stories out there that have nothing to do with gaming, but my attention is always instantly drawn to jock-stains who try to censor people talking about censorship.

  • C G Saturation

    These days, everything is harassment if a vagina is involved.

  • jlnod15

    Well I hope you keep up on this. And report on any really retarded bannings from Youtube. Let alone double standards that WILL come from this.