YouTube Cleans Up Its Act

Dennis Faas's picture

YouTube is trying to make it harder for users to distribute 'adult' content. It's part of a plan to clean up the site to avoid scaring off would-be advertisers.

The video-sharing site is already much cleaner than many rivals, barring clips with any nudity -- let alone sexually explicit content. However, from now on any content deemed too 'suggestive' will be restricted to viewing by those over 18. The formulas used to generate lists of 'most viewed' clips and those which most people have marked as favourites will be redesigned to minimise the likelihood of suggestive clips appearing on the front page of results.

That's likely to cause a range of problems. The definition of suggestive is inherently subjective: YouTube says it is content primarily designed to arouse viewers and points to the setting and emphasis of a clip as factors which could affect this. (Source:

It may also prove difficult to police the age limitation. The only way to be close to certain of this is to require a credit card for verification. As YouTube doesn't do this, it's pretty much down to the honor system. The limit may also be seen as unfair in locations such as the UK, where the age of consent is below 18; it seems pretty odd that people who are legally allowed to have intercourse can't see suggestive content.

In reality, these changes appear more about pacifying advertisers. Google, owners of YouTube, seems keen to make cash from the huge YouTube audience and in all likelihood ad agencies have already pressured the firm to at least go through the motions of making the site family-friendly. (Source:

There is some good news for those searching YouTube for 'arousing' clips. The thumbnail images which appear in search results will now be randomly selected from clips rather than automatically taken from specified points. Some posters had been abusing that system by placing single frames of an erotic image at those points in their clips to trick people into seeing the videos, usually of spam-style advertising material.

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