KEY POINTS

  • YouTube warned its automated review system will be operating with less human oversight after sending much of its office workforce home during coronavirus outbreak
  • Users can appeal a video's removal for review by remaining staff, which may take longer due to smaller workforce
  • YouTube's warning comes a week after CEO Susan Wojcicki said users could monetize videos about COVID-19

Google warned YouTube creators Monday to expect a higher number of video removals because of a reduced workforce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said its system of reviewing YouTube videos relies on both automated systems and an office workforce. Since the number of office workers has recently been reduced, the automated review system will likely remove more videos than normal because of less human oversight. The higher reliance on automated reviewing could lead to some videos being removed that would have normally not been removed.

“We have teams at YouTube, as well as partner companies, that help us support and protect the YouTube community—from people who respond to user and creator questions, to reviewers who evaluate videos for possible policy violations,” YouTube said in a blog post. “These teams and companies are staffed by thousands of people dedicated to helping users and creators. As the coronavirus response evolves, we are taking the steps needed to prioritize the well-being of our employees, our extended workforce, and the communities where they live, including reducing in-office staffing in certain sites.”

The video platform said a creator can appeal the decision of a video being removed. Remaining staffers will then review the video and make the final decision, though it may take longer than normal because of the reduced workforce.

“We’ll also be more cautious about what content gets promoted, including livestreams,” YouTube said. “In some cases, unreviewed content may not be available via search, on the homepage, or in recommendations.”

The warning comes almost a week after YouTube said it would allow users to monetize videos dealing with the coronavirus.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said COVID-19 would not fall under a “sensitive events” guideline that prevents users from monetizing videos on certain subjects. These include events like mass shootings, natural disasters, and select health crises. However, Wojcicki said that given the subject’s importance, users would be able to monetize ads on any coronavirus videos they create.

Alphabet and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai touted YouTube, whose logo is seen at the right, as a revenue star at the company Alphabet and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai touted YouTube, whose logo is seen at the right, as a revenue star at the company Photo: AFP / Robyn Beck