Google-owned YouTube will no longer allow anyone on its platform to post content that “maliciously insults” others based on protected traits, including race, gender expression, and sexual orientation, the company announced Wednesday.
“We will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on protected attributes such as their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation,” Matt Halprin, YouTube’s chief of trust and safety, wrote in a blog post. “This applies to everyone, from private individuals, to YouTube creators, to public officials.”
In June, Carlos Maza, a journalist and YouTube creator, publicly accused a conservative comedian, Steven Crowder, of harassing him repeatedly with homophobic comments on the online platform. The company said the comedian’s videos did not violate its policies and did not remove them. Google employees protested YouTube’s decision. The company responded by withdrawing ads from Crowder’s videos, giving rise to accusations of bias from some politicians.
The company is also broadening its definition of threats to include “veiled or implied threats,” not just direct ones — for instance, someone menacingly holding a knife in a video while talking about a person, even if they do not actually state a threat.
Additionally, YouTube is updating its policy on repeat offenders. Now, the company will reserve the right to issue “strikes” and eventually ban accounts that repeatedly post content that may not qualify as harassment in just one instance, but that altogether demonstrates a pattern of targeting and harassment.
The changes announced Wednesday are incremental and will depend on execution rather than policy. If, going forward, YouTube does take down more content that meets a broader definition of harassment, it will likely provoke criticism, particularly at a time when it continues to face pressure from Republican leaders such as President Donald Trump over claims that the video platform censors conservative speech.