YouTube Subjecting All 'Preferred' Content to Human Review -- Update

YouTube is ordering workers to review thousands of hours of its most popular content and setting new limits on which videos can run ads, in moves to ease advertisers' worries that their brands are showing up alongside offensive or controversial videos.

YouTube said Tuesday that human reviewers would watch every second of video in its curated lineup of top content, dubbed Google Preferred, which brands pay a premium to advertise on. Human reviewers also will have to approve new videos uploaded by Google Preferred channels before the videos can begin running the premium ads.

Continue Reading Below

YouTube, a unit of Alphabet Inc.'s Google, says Google Preferred includes among the most popular 5% of channels, as determined by their likes, comments and shares, among other factors. The company didn't say how many hours of content that entails.

But YouTube has said since 2015 that users upload 400 hours of video to the site a minute, or 65 years of footage a day, meaning reviewing even a small slice of that total would likely require at least tens of thousands of hours.

The company expects to have the full review completed by the end of March, then continue to review new videos as they are posted.

YouTube is also raising the bar for channels that want to carry ads. Channels must now have accumulated at least 4,000 hours of watch time and 1,000 subscribers, compared with the threshold of 10,000 cumulative views that YouTube set last year. YouTube said a "significant" number of channels would be affected but declined to provide more details.

The moves come after a series of scandals involving ads from prominent brands displayed alongside racist or other objectionable content.

The steps show YouTube is yielding to advertisers' demands for more oversight on videos it sells as ad space, despite the fact that such policies are likely to upset its network of video creators, who are crucial to the site's reach and popularity.

Google has long touted YouTube to advertisers as a better alternative to television, with unprecedented scale and diversity of content. But those traits have also made the site difficult to police. Human reviewers could never watch all of YouTube's content, while software often doesn't understand what could be offensive.

Write to Jack Nicas at jack.nicas@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 16, 2018 18:29 ET (23:29 GMT)