Susan Wojcicki reflects on YouTube switch from being “raw” and “authentic” to policies that favor legacy media

The YouTube CEO talks about the state of YouTube on today, its 15th birthday.

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YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has marked the video sharing platform’s 15th birthday by reiterating the site’s commitment to removing content, reducing recommendations to content that doesn’t break any rules, and boosting “authoritative voices,” legacy media outlets that get preferential treatment in YouTube’s algorithms at the expense of the independent creators who have helped build the site during these 15 years.

In a post titled YouTube at 15, Wojcicki reflected on the very first video uploaded to the site and wrote about how the site’s early videos were very human in comparison to traditional media:

“These videos entertained us, but they also showed there was something very human about connecting through online video. While traditional media often showed polished and perfected versions of life, this medium was different; it had a raw, honest, and authentic feel.”

She then compared these early days with YouTube as it is today – a platform which is working with traditional media companies to extend their audiences and consistently introducing unpopular policy changes that harm the creator community.

Wojcicki wrote that “responsibility” is her number one focus and that fulfilling this responsibility involved removing 8.7 million videos from the site in Q3 2019, raising up “authoritative voices” in search and recommendations for “news and other types of sensitive information,” and reducing recommendations of “borderline content” (content which “brushes up against” YouTube’s policies but doesn’t violate them).

Specifically, Wojcicki described how YouTube had reduced the watchtime of borderline content from non-subscribed recommendations in the US by more than 70% and how similar measures continue to be rolled out in other countries.

Wojcicki also highlighted the 50+ policy changes YouTube has made over the last two years – many of which have proved controversial with creators and lead to the demonetization or removal of popular videos.

These policies include:

Wojcicki finished the post by suggesting that creators can expect more of the same in the run up to the 2020 US presidential election: “As the U.S. presidential election approaches, we will continue to balance openness with responsibility by ensuring that YouTube is a reliable source for information. Our efforts include raising up authoritative election news and removing bad actors and misleading content.”

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