YouTube enrolls 'super flaggers' to watch for offending videos

In an invite-only program, Google's video-sharing site gives roughly 200 people, government agencies, and organizations the power to flag up to 20 videos at a time.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

YouTube has a team of staffers to review videos 24 hours a day seven days a week, but inappropriate content still slips onto the site. So, it appears Google is relying on an army of "super flaggers" to help pinpoint videos that violate its community guidelines.

Around 200 people and organizations have been given this flagging super power, according to The Wall Street Journal. Among this elite group is the British police unit, according to the Financial Times.

These special people and groups have the ability to flag up to 20 videos at once to be reviewed by YouTube staff. According to the Journal, 90 percent of the videos flagged by these people get pulled from the site or restricted to only adult users -- this is a far higher pull rate than videos flagged by the average YouTube user.

YouTube doesn't allow for sex and nudity, hate speech, copyright infringement, and a slew of other "violating" actions. According to its community guidelines, "predatory behavior, stalking, threats, harassment, intimidation, invading privacy, revealing other people's personal information, and inciting others to commit violent acts" are taken very seriously and could lead to someone being permanently banned from the site.

According to the Financial Times, the British police unit is apparently looking for extremist propaganda and terrorism-related videos, which are also not permitted on YouTube.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy on YouTube towards content that incites violence," YouTube told the Financial Times. "Our community guidelines prohibit such content and our review teams respond to flagged videos around the clock, routinely removing videos that contain hate speech or incitement to commit violent acts. To increase the efficiency of this process, we have developed an invite-only program that gives users who flag videos regularly tools to flag content at scale."

Of the 200 super flaggers, Google said that fewer than 10 are either government agencies or non-governmental groups, according to the Journal. The vast majority of the trusted flaggers are individuals who have spent a lot of time identifying those YouTube videos that violate community guidelines.