Like most platforms serving community-generated content, YouTube regularly reviews the effectiveness of its content policies, issuing updates and guideline changes as it feels they're needed. As part of its latest self-examination, potentially stemming from actions earlier this year, the company has decided to update its harassment policies with two substantial changes regarding threatening content and personal attacks, with harsher punishments for YouTube Partners that repeatedly skirt the edges of the rules.

As part of these changes, YouTube won't allow:

  • Content that maliciously targets individuals based on "intrinsic attributes" (i.e., race, gender, physical traits, etc., including protected groups).
  • Content that makes veiled or implicit threats (i.e., simulating/suggesting violence without directly stating it).

The peanut gallery should note that this don't just apply to videos published on YouTube, but also comments. They work in tandem with the recent feature allowing content creators to "hold potentially inappropriate comments for review." Guidelines for reporting content violations are here.

"No individual should be subject to harassment that suggests violence." the company said as part of the announcement. "Beyond threatening someone, there is also demeaning language that goes too far." Still, there are always going to be exceptions, and even YouTube admits that "context is key." YouTube will still allow otherwise offensive content if it's in the pursuit of art, education, documentation, science, or empowerment, with more details available here.

These changes also apply the rules to a larger group now, including public officials, private individuals, and YouTube creators. Even if they don't outright break the rules, content-creating members of the YouTube Partner program that "brush up against" these policy changes too often will now risk losing that status. Further action will see an escalating response from the company, with offending content being removed, increasing to "more severe" actions including account strikes and, eventually, channel termination.

While these new policies ostensibly kick into gear today, YouTube is clear that it will slowly ramp up enforcement as part of a transition over months, and though offending content may be removed, content creators won't receive strikes for now.

For more details, you can read YouTube's full announcement just below.