After big-name companies recently pulled advertising with the Google-owned platform, YouTube is set to spend big to better control its content.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on December 6, 2017

YouTube will hire 10,000 more people in 2018 for the purpose of flagging harmful videos and comments.

CEO Susan Wojcicki announced the move via her blog post this week.

“Our goal is to stay one step ahead of bad actors, making it harder for policy-violating content to surface or remain on YouTube,” she wrote.

“We are also taking aggressive action on comments, launching new comment moderation tools and in some cases shutting down comments altogether.

“I’ve seen how our open platform has been a force for creativity, learning and access to information… But I’ve also seen up-close that there can be another, more troubling, side of YouTube’s openness.

“I’ve seen how some bad actors are exploiting our openness to mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm.”

While Ms Wojcicki didn’t say how many people the Google-owned company currently employs for that specific role, she did say nearly 2 million videos have been manually reviewed for violent extremism since June, of which 150,000 have been removed.

Machine-learning technology (new form of artificial intelligence) is also considered a critical weapon against unwanted content, as it can take down 70% of violent extremist content within eight hours of upload and nearly half of it in the first two hours.

The immediate success of the technology has seen it deployed to other areas such as child safety and hate speech.

But she says there is currently no substitute for human understanding.

“Human reviewers remain essential to both removing content and training machine learning systems because human judgment is critical to making contextualised decisions on content.”

Big name advertisers pull ads

The blog post follows last month’s scandal in which a host of high-profile companies pulled their YouTube advertisements because they appeared next to videos of near-naked children which had been commented on by a number of deviants.

Mars, Adidas, Hewlett-Packard and Deutsche Bank were reported to have suspended advertising on the platform.

In a statement to CNBC, a spokesperson for Hewlett-Packard wrote: “We are deeply troubled to learn that one of our advertisements was placed in a terrible and inappropriate context.

“HP has strict brand safety protocols in place across all online advertising, including YouTube and this appears to be the result of a content misclassification by Google.”

In response, Ms Wojcicki said YouTube is taking a “new approach” to advertising, “to protect advertisers and creators from inappropriate content”.

“We are planning to apply stricter criteria, conduct more manual curation, while also significantly ramping up our team of ad reviewers to ensure ads are only running where they should.”