YouTube has announced plans to delete thousands of accounts

6 June 2019, 17:23

YouTube. Picture: Anadolu Agency / Getty

By Rachel Finn

YouTube has banned and is deleting accounts that promote hateful views.

YouTube has announced plans to delete thousands of accounts after introducing a ban on supremacists, conspiracy theorists and other accounts who promote harmful views.

Although YouTube has previously had a policy against hateful and offensive content on site, the new rules will be harsher on content that often ended up online anyway, such as conspiracy theory videos and videos promoting Nazi ideology.

“Today, we're taking another step in our hate speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status,” the company said on its official blog. “This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place.”

In the past, YouTube has been more relaxed about having a range of views on the platform, even when those views veer into extreme territories, citing freedom of speech. Much of the criticism has been aimed at the platform’s algorithm, which keeps users on the site by suggesting videos on similar topics to the once you’ve just clicked on. Some have suggested this leads people towards more and more extreme videos and can give users reasons to produce even more extreme videos in an attempt to bump up view counts and get a larger ad revenue in the process.

YouTube also addresses this in the post, explaining that since January they have been limiting recommendations of “borderline content and harmful misinformation, such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, or claiming the earth is flat.” As a result, they claim the number of views this type of content gets from recommendations has dropped over 50% in the US since.

Despite this change, YouTube came under fire earlier this week for siding with conservative YouTuber Steven Crowder in an anti-harassment claim made by journalist Carlos Maza. Crowder had made a number of homophobic and racist comments about Maza on his YouTube channel over the past few years. They’ve since announced they will suspend monetisation on Crowder’s channel.

YouTube also announced plans this week to ban minors from streaming on the site.