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Using technology to more consistently apply age restrictions

  • By The YouTube Team
  • Sep.22.2020
Today, we’re announcing a continuation of these efforts to live up to our regulatory obligations around the world and to provide age-appropriate experiences when people come to YouTube.

Over the last several years, we’ve taken important steps to make YouTube a safer place for families, like launching the standalone YouTube Kids app for users under the age of 13. Today, we’re announcing a continuation of these efforts to live up to our regulatory obligations around the world and to provide age-appropriate experiences when people come to YouTube. 

We recognize that users and creators are generally the best judge of who should see their content, so we empower them with tools to manage access. Not only can they use privacy settings to make sure they are sharing videos with just friends and family or small groups, but we also encourage them to age-restrict their own content when appropriate. When content is age-restricted, users coming to YouTube must be signed-in and their account age must be 18 or older in order to view the video. If they aren’t, they see a warning and are redirected to find other content that is age-appropriate. Our Community Guidelines include guidance to uploaders about when content should be age-restricted. 

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Today, our Trust & Safety team applies age-restrictions when, in the course of reviewing content, they encounter a video that isn't appropriate for viewers under 18. Going forward, we will build on our approach of using machine learning to detect content for review, by developing and adapting our technology to help us automatically apply age-restrictions. Uploaders can appeal the decision if they believe it was incorrectly applied. For creators in the YouTube Partner Program, we expect these automated age-restrictions to have little to no impact on revenue, as most of these videos also violate our advertiser-friendly guidelines and therefore have limited or no ads

To make sure the experience is consistent, viewers attempting to access age-restricted videos on most third-party websites will be redirected to YouTube where they must sign-in and be over 18 to view it. This will help ensure that, no matter where a video is discovered, it will only be viewable by the appropriate audience.

Because our use of technology will result in more videos being age-restricted, our policy team took this opportunity to revisit where we draw the line for age-restricted content. After consulting with experts and comparing ourselves against other global content rating frameworks, only minor adjustments were necessary. Our policy pages have been updated to reflect these changes. All the changes outlined above will roll out over the coming months. 

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Expanding Age-verification in Europe


In line with upcoming regulations, like the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), we will also be introducing a new age verification step over the next few months.  As part of this process some European users may be asked to provide additional proof of age when attempting to watch mature content. If our systems are unable to establish that a viewer is above the age of 18, we will request that they provide a valid ID or credit card to verify their age. We’ve built our age-verification process in keeping with Google’s Privacy and Security Principles

We understand that many are turning to YouTube at this time to find content that is both educational and entertaining. We will continue to update our products and our policies with features that make sure when they do, they find content that is age-appropriate.