INTRO: YouTube removed more videos than ever before in the second quarter of 2020. The videos were primarily removed by machine learning algorithms as there were relatively fewer human reviewers due to the pandemic.
According to YouTube’s Community Guidelines enforcement report, 11.4 million (11,401,696) got removed between April and June this year. To put that in perspective, the video-sharing platform removed almost 8.9 million videos during the same quarter last year. Also, the company took down just 6 million videos during the first quarter of 2020.
As per the report, YouTube removed most of the videos from the U.S. The top 5 countries in the list include United States (2,061,733 videos), India (1,446,772 videos), Brazil (981,181 videos), Indonesia (684,199 videos), and Russia (406,764 videos). YouTube removed 33.5 percent of the videos citing child safety concerns. This is followed closely by 28.3 percent removal of spam, misleading and scam videos and 14.6 percent nudity or sexual videos.
YouTube acknowledges that videos that did not violate their policies were also removed. Such takedowns were prevalent in sensitive topics such as violent extremism and child safety. According to YouTube, this move was ‘out of an abundance of caution’. However, it resulted in a 3x increase in removals of content.
“When reckoning with greatly reduced human review capacity due to COVID-19, we were forced to make a choice between potential under-enforcement or potential over-enforcement. Because responsibility is our top priority, we chose the latter—using technology to help with some of the work normally done by reviewers,” wrote the company in a blog post.
Since YouTube expected less accuracy when algorithms were about to take over, the company increased the staff for handling appeals. Creators appealed less than 3 percent of the video removals. Of the appealed content, almost 50 percent of the videos were reinstated.