CALIFORNIA, U.S. - A year after advertisers across the globe led a mass boycott of YouTube after their advertisements were found on videos promoting extremist content, the controversy returned to haunt YouTube last week.
Now, the company has claimed that computers have helped it pull down millions of objectionable videos in the last three months.
According to the company, a software has helped it flag 4.5 million videos before anyone ever saw them, however, it said that another 1.5 million videos got through.
The world’s largest video site said in a brief that in the last quarter, users uploaded millions of objectionable videos and that it had successfully trained computers to flag objectionable videos, in a bid to sort out the bad stuff from the site’s enormous crush of clips.
While announcing parent company Alphabet’s earnings call, Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s made these scripted remarks.
He added that YouTube had managed to pull down more than six million videos in the last quarter of 2017
Pichai said that the videos were pulled after they were first flagged by its “machine systems,” and that 75 percent of those videos “were removed before receiving a single view.”
Specifically, in a blog post, YouTube said that it pulled down over 8 million videos in the quarter, pointing out that these videos were “mostly spam or people attempting to upload adult content,” and that 6.7 million were flagged by computers first.
It added in the blog post that it is getting better at finding videos with “violent extremism.”
It said that at the beginning of 2017, 8 percent of the videos with that content were taken down before they got to 10 views, adding, “Now more than half of the videos we remove for violent extremism have fewer than 10 views.”
When the controversy broke out last year in the U.K., after government offices and departments pointed out that their adverts were being run onto of offensive and extremist videos, YouTube argued that it was taking the problem seriously.
Eileen Donahoe, executive director at Stanford University's Global Digital Policy Incubator pointed out that figuring out how to remove unwanted videos and balancing that with free speech was a major challenge for the future of YouTube.
Donahoe said, "It's basically free expression on one side and the quality of discourse that's beneficial to society on the other side. It's a hard problem to solve."