YouTube’s ‘Four Rs’ Balancing Openness and Responsibility

On 27 August 2019, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki released a blog post detailing the video site’s goal of preserving openness through responsibility. She introduced the “four Rs” standing for Remove, Raise up, Reduce, and Rewarding. This details the approach YouTube will be taking towards responsibility for their content. With this approach, the video site hopes to maintain an open and free environment for video content and interaction by maintaining a responsible community to protect users and creators.

Four Rs

Remove refers to content that has violated policies. YouTube aims to remove any harmful content quickly; and to maintain policies clear and effective. 

Raise up promotes and recommends users and content who have authority in presenting news and breaking updates such as channels of legitimate news outlets. It aims to endorse content to provide people with true and objective news and information, especially at critical times.

YouTube also aims to Reduce content that could spread incomplete information or fake news. This content may get past the policies and get uploaded but they cause confusion and misinformation.

Most importantly YouTube committed to further Rewarding “trusted, eligible creators” who contribute quality content to the site.

YouTube’s ‘Four Rs’ Balancing Openness and Responsibility
Source: YouTube


More details were provided about the Remove approach on the 3 September 2019 blog post. As reported, 80% of videos flagged to violate YouTube policy have been removed for the past 18 months. Much of the removals are due to the development of teams such as the policy development team that repeatedly review and revise policies.

Engineers have also further developed tools and updated automated programs to detect inappropriate videos. An Intelligence Desk was also created to study viewing trends of videos that break policies.  All in all, about 10, 000 people were involved in detecting, reviewing, and removing content that violates guidelines. 

Aside from people, YouTube also mentioned the improvement of machine learning technology, which enables them to detect inappropriate videos upon upload even before they are viewed. For example, the use of hashes or digital fingerprints to detect content related to child abuse or terrorism.

YouTube has dedicated much of its resources to make sure users and creators are protected and responsible for the content they share through the video sharing site. Such measures are necessary to help maintain the freedom of expression that all users value. More developments are expected in the future as the plans for the other approaches will be discussed and detailed.

Implications for Brand Marketers

Based on the latest updates, more restrictions are to be expected from YouTube in the future. This may have an impact on the overall viewership but at the same time will make sure that all users and creators will be protected. Marketers should keep up to date on the restrictions to make sure that no content produced can be a cause for the brand channel be affected. Even comments and reviews by viewers may need to be monitored. Past content may also need review to check if recent policies have not been breached.

There is also an opportunity for brands to build authority by qualifying for the Raise Up and Rewarding approaches. More details may be presented later on how to be part of the said programs but building authority will surely make your brand stand out from other channels.

Overall as time goes by, changes on policies and approaches are to be expected on social media. As marketers, being aware of such change and complying with it will ensure the brand’s image and reputation is protected as well.


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