YouTube has launched a program called YouTube Heroes that will allow users to report inappropriate content in the form of a game.
Members will earn points, advance in levels and gain access to exclusive rewards and features on the site dependent on the quality of their contributions.
How do these “Heroes” earn points? By flagging inappropriate videos, adding captions to content and sharing their knowledge with other Heroes in message boards and Google Hangout sessions.
This development was released right on the heels of YouTube’s sudden — and uneven — enforcement of their Terms of Service, which some content creators chalked up to censorship. Many users had their videos demonetized for simply having controversial tags.
YouTube Heroes appears to be a solution to the previous algorithm-based flagging and demonetization.
Now, real users of the site will be out there flagging whatever they feel is inappropriate content.
Some of the features of the program will be very beneficial for the site and its users. The incentive to add caption — that follow FCC guidelines — will be a great help to the deaf and hard of hearing communities that have struggled with the Google / YouTube Automatic Caption button for years.
The removal of comments that add no substance to the conversation or that are simply spam could also help creators see more of their actual critiques and praise.
However, some of the other features pose a scary situation for content creators: The same people that leave hateful comments and spend their time trolling online can now have the ability to flag videos in mass.
The real issue with this is that while the quality of a contribution is being reviewed — which could take upwards of 24 hours, as per the YouTube Heroes help page — the video in question is demonetized.
This has creators that depend on AdSense revenue to maintain their channels a little worried about finance as well as censorship and YouTube all over again.
Popular YouTuber Philip DeFranco, who brought massive attention to the YouTube censorship ordeal touched on the YouTube Heroes Initiative in a recent video named “The internet is freaking out over the new censorship / moderation measures,” saying that it is “essentially forming a militia and giving pretty much anyone that asks for a gun a gun because you couldn’t build up your own police force.”
With all the changes that YouTube has been implementing, and the ones they have started announcing, the future of the platform seems to be a perpetual question mark and only time will tell if the YouTube Heroes Initiative will be an effective form of moderation for the site, or if it will even stick.