YouTube says it has taken down more videos in the second quarter of 2020 than it ever has in a single quarter, totaling 11,401,696, as it depended more heavily on its algorithms than on human moderators to identify and remove content that violates its community guidelines. This was after the company shifted to remote work due to COVID-19.
The removals took place between April and June 2020, which include automated flagging and human reviews. In contrast, YouTube took down 8,988,500 videos in the same period last year, according to its quarterly Community Guidelines Enforcement Report. In a blog post, YouTube said:
"When reckoning with greatly reduced human review capacity due to COVID-19, we were forced to make a choice between potential under-enforcement or potential over-enforcement...Because responsibility is our top priority, we chose the latter—using technology to help with some of the work normally done by reviewers."
YouTube's parent company, Google, announced its plans last month to allow its employees to work from home through the summer of 2021 due to the pandemic. The order applies to Google employees in the U.S.,the U.K., India, Brazil, and other company offices worldwide.
The video-sharing service also allowed a "lower level of accuracy" for videos in certain sensitive policy areas including violent extremism and child safety even if it meant removing content that does not go against its policies. As a result, the move saw a more than three times increase in the number of content removed due to those specific policies.
For creators, YouTube said it made sure its increased reliance on technology would have minimal disruptions on their content. This was done by not issuing strikes on videos taken down without human review and making it easier for owners to appeal removals if they believe these were mistakenly done. YouTube noted that the volume of videos restored upon appeal rose from 25% of appeals in Q1 to 50% of appeals in Q2 of 2020, although these appeals represented only less than 3% of videos removed.