Skip to Main Content

News and Events

Why flagging matters

By Juniper Downs

Head of YouTube Public Policy

YouTube allows people anywhere to share their stories with the world. They share their sense of humor, their talents, their opinions, what’s happening around them and within them. YouTube is also a community, and over the years, people have used the flagging feature located beneath every video and comment to help report content they believe violates our Community Guidelines.

We want to empower you, the YouTube community, to better understand how flagging works and how you can get involved in maintaining our community guidelines. To shed some light on how your flagging activity has helped keep YouTube a platform where openness and creative expression are balanced with responsibility, here are some of the latest data:

  • Over 90 million people have flagged videos on YouTube since 2006 - that’s more than the population of Egypt - and over a third of these people have flagged more than one video.
  • As YouTube grows, the community continues to be very active in flagging content: the number of flags per day is up over 25 percent year-on-year.
  • Community flagging on YouTube is international: People from 196 countries have flagged a video. The five countries with the most accurate flagging rates are: Indonesia, Turkey, Germany, Ukraine and France.
  • We’re also continuing to strengthen our policy enforcement processes: In 2015 alone, we removed 92 million videos for violation of our policies through a mix of user flagging and our spam-detection technology. While we are vigilant and fast in removing terrorist content and hate speech, it's worth noting that it actually represents a very small proportion of the content that violates our guidelines - those two violations account for only 1 percent of the videos removed in 2015.

When flagging, you can report which policy you think a video violates, from spam and sexual content to harassment and violent content. This helps us route and review flagged content more efficiently and effectively.

We have trained teams, fluent in multiple languages, who carefully evaluate your flags 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year in time zones around the world. They remove content that violates our terms, age-restrict content that may not be appropriate for all audiences, and are careful to leave content up if it hasn’t crossed the line. As YouTube grows, we continue to scale our policy enforcement resources to meet your needs as a community.

Flagged content, however, doesn’t automatically get removed. YouTube is an important global platform for information and news, and our teams evaluate videos before taking action in order to protect content that has an educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purpose.

We also take into account local laws in the countries where we operate and if we receive a valid legal notice that content violates a local law, we will restrict that content in the local country domain. You can find information about government removal requests in Google’s Transparency Report. Similarly, if we remove content for policy reasons after receiving a valid legal request, we will include that in our transparency reporting.

We want to encourage you to continue flagging and we hope this additional transparency will help you continue reporting responsibly. For more information about how these processes work, visit our Policy and Safety Hub.

Posted by Juniper Downs, Head of YouTube Public Policy, who recently watched “Leon Bridges' NPR Tiny Desk Concert.”