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YouTube’s appeal process is largely ineffective

YouTube received 110,000 appeals for video takedowns. It only reinstated 24,000.
Christine Fisher, @cfisherwrites
February 28, 2020
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YouTube's latest transparency report suggests its appeals process is failing creators. Last quarter, YouTube removed 5.9 million videos from the platform. It received just 108,779 appeals, but it only reinstated 23,471 of those videos. That means roughly 78 percent of appeals were rejected.

YouTube creators have been asking for more transparency around the video removal appeals process. This is the first time YouTube has shared appeals data, but the info probably isn't going to make creators too happy. For months, the YouTubers Union has been calling for the appeals process to be overseen by a third-party council, and this new info could fuel its argument.

"Our team is focused on accurately and consistently enforcing our policies, and one of the ways we hold ourselves accountable and measure our success is by making sure that users can easily appeal our decisions and monitoring the rate at which they do," a YouTube spokesperson told The Verge.

YouTube removed fewer videos last quarter than it has in any quarter since it started sharing the data in 2017. The majority of those videos, 5.3 million, were flagged automatically. Most were removed before they attracted any views, and 52 percent were pulled for spam or misleading content. Just over 2 million channels were removed for repeat violations.

While cleaning up the platform is a good thing, the fact that YouTube shoots down the vast majority of appeals is not -- especially if you're a creator who relies on the platform as a source of income.

Update 2/28/2020 5:10PM ET: Google's full statement is provided below.

"It's important to us that we consistently enforce our policies. We rely on a combination of humans and technology for precisely this reason - technology helps us to quickly find content that potentially violates our policies at scale, and we then send this content for review by our highly-trained review teams who can appreciate context and nuance when applying our policies. This data shows those decisions are accurate in most cases.

That said, no system is perfect and that's why we make it as easy as possible for users to appeal any video removals. We point users to their creator dashboard where they can review and, if necessary, appeal a video removal in every email we send notifying them of their strike and additionally in the in-product notification they must click through to continue using YouTube after receiving a strike."

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