The Youtube Heroes Controversy
Introduced last year by the video hosting service provider platform YouTube, a new program called YouTube Heroes created a strong polemic last year.
The concept behind the name is a campaign not only offering rewards and incentives to users who contribute to the site by adding content like providing subtitles to videos, but also moderating comments and reporting videos violating the website’s Terms of Service.
The goal of the program is to allow participants to gain levels for performing various tasks on the site: After gaining some levels, you will become a « YouTube Hero »: for all level 3, you are able to mass flag videos, and to directly contact YouTube staff at level 4. Then, if you reach level 5, you gain access to several opportunities like testing new products prior to release.
When the official YouTube channel released a video titled « Getting Started With YouTube Heroes », the website’s staff didn’t expect that the program was about to met a large backlash from content creators and more generally, from the YouTube community.
Users predicted that rewarding people for mass flagging videos would ultimately promote censorship and lead to abusive reports (also known as « strikes ») and channel take-downs.
Within 72 hours, the presentation video gathered more than one million views, more than 400, 000 dislikes, and only 7, 000 likes. In order to stop the propagation of the backlash, comments on the video were quickly disabled by YouTube.
Online reactions were highly critical against this idea: not only several users on Reddit, but also popular YouTubers like h3h3 productions denounced this program.
Two days after the original release, Youtube discreetly edited the video, clarifying some of their original statements, but without notifying anyone that they changed the content of the video to begin with. These edits reworded certain parts, such as changing « Help Moderate Community Content » to « Help Moderate Content in The YouTube Heroes Community », or changing « Report Negative Content » to « Reporte inappropriate videos accurately ».
The question is now to know if those softening are in fact going to be sufficient or not when the program will be active in the future.