YouTube's moderation algorithms doubles video takedowns during pandemic
- YouTube revealed Tuesday that it took down a record 11 million videos between the start of April and the end of June, almost twice as many as previous quarter.
- This is because it decided to rely more heavily on its algorithms to remove content during the pandemic, rather than human moderators.
- The shift meant more videos were removed erroneously, and YouTube got twice as many appeals about removed videos than usual.
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YouTube's reliance on automated moderation algorithms during the pandemic meant the platform took down a record 11 million videos between the start of April and the end of June — almost twice as many as the previous quarter.
In its quarterly Community Guidelines Enforcement Report published Tuesday, as first reported by Protocol, YouTube said that it reduced office hours as the pandemic began to bite in March, forcing it to rely more heavily on algorithmic decision-making to moderate its site.
"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," YouTube wrote in a blog post.
YouTube said that if it continued to operate using the same balance of algorithmic and human review, this would have caused bottlenecks for its moderator workforce. Alternatively, it could let its algorithm take on more of the work — accepting that it would probably cause more errors.
"Because responsibility is our top priority, we chose the latter — using technology to help with some of the work normally done by reviewers," YouTube said.
"The result was an increase in the number of videos removed from YouTube; more than double the number of videos we removed in the previous quarter."
From April to June, YouTube took down 11.4 million videos, the most it's ever removed in a single quarter, compared to 6.1 million from January to March. YouTube said that appeals from creators claiming their videos were removed in error had doubled. The success rate of these appeals doubled, too.
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