For the first time in roughly a decade, YouTube is overhauling the way in which it doles out Community Guidelines strikes — or punishments for creators who post videos that violate its tenants with respect to sexual content, violence, hate speech, spam, and more.
YouTube said that the new system — designed with creator input over the past nine months — intends to be simpler, more consistent across all infractions, and more transparent (about what caused the strike and what the impact of receiving a strike means for a channel’s future). The new guidelines also aim to educate good actors within the YouTube community, the company says, given that 98% of creators have never received a strike, and 94% of channels who receive a first strike never receive a second.
On Feb. 25, the three-strike system that has been in place will evolve. As of that date, any channels that violate YouTube’s Community Guidelines for the first time won’t receive a strike, but instead will be hit with a one-time warning. The offending content will be removed as part of this warning, YouTube notes, but channels won’t suffer any additional penalties. This is intended to educate creators about the bounds of its Community Guidelines, the company says, given that many first-time strikes are incurred because creators don’t know any better.
Channels can appeal the one-time warnings, too — just like they can appeal any Community Guideline strike. If the creator wins the appeal, the slate is wiped clean and they will be eligible to receive a warning again before getting hit with any strikes.
In addition to warnings, YouTube’s three-strike system is also evolving to become more consistent. Whereas first strikes previously resulted in a 90‐day livestreaming freeze, and second strikes resulted in a two-week video upload freeze, now all strikes will result in the same punishment, a temporary ban from all YouTube activity across the board.
YouTube notes that while most Community Guidelines strikes result from standard video uploads, the platform has introduced new features — like Stories, the Community tab, custom thumbnails, and external links — since the strike system was established. Going forward, violations that occur on any of these features will trigger the same punishments.
The first strike, for instance, will result in a one‐week freeze on all channel activity, including uploads and livestreaming, while the second strike will result in a two‐week freeze on all channel activity. The third strike results in a channel’s termination. (Notably, strikes expire within 90 days — so, in order to be terminated, infractions would have to take place within a three-month period).
In addition to the evolving system, YouTube says it’s taking strides to be better about communicating enforcement. Now, when strikes occur, YouTube will now send out email, desktop, and new mobile notifications that provide additional details about which policy was violated, the larger repercussions of the strike, and what options are available to creators — including the ability to appeal. With these communications will also come more detailed information within YouTube’s Policy Center, including examples of the kind of content that commonly breaks rules.
YouTube notes that the changes to its Community Guidelines strikes will roll out globally, and have no impact on the way that it tenders Copyright Strikes.
And while the company has faced some controversy in recent weeks about the way in which it has handled Community Guidelines strikes — including an aboutface in its decision to terminate the channel of convicted sex offender Austin Jones, and speculation that YouTube originals like Wayne violate its own policies — the company says the updates have been in the works for nine months and aren’t in response to any recent happenings.