YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki stresses importance of safety and moderation

4 May 2018

YouTube app icon on iPhone X. Image: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock

YouTube’s CEO discussed user safety as well as new content deals for the platform.

YouTube’s annual Brandcast was a slick affair, designed to convince its advertisers that it’s a good place in which to pour ad spend.

The event took place on Thursday (3 May) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City and CEO Susan Wojcicki outlined just how large the platform’s reach really is.

Responsible growth at YouTube

Future Human

Wojcicki addressed advertiser concerns around brand safety at the beginning of her presentation, saying: “It is critically important to me, and to everyone at YouTube, that we grow responsibly.”

She added that there are inherent difficulties in manning a content repository at such a large scale. “There is not a playbook for how open platforms operate at our scale. But the way I think about it is, it’s critical that we are on the right side of history.”

She also noted the difficulties of running an open platform. “This is the impact of an open platform: it brings the world together in ways that were just not possible before. But we’ve also seen that with openness comes challenges, as some have tried to take advantage of our services.”

While she did not go into any great detail in terms of the new steps the company would be taking to address issues like inappropriate content geared towards children and extremist content, YouTube has already announced various strategies to mitigate these problems.

Increasing the number of content moderators

Thousands more moderators are being hired and criteria for becoming a YouTube partner are becoming stricter. The hiring of 10,000 moderators across Google, YouTube’s operator, is still underway.

Wojcicki added: “We committed to having over 10,000 people across Google by end of year to address content violative content. And we’re using the latest machine-learning technology to apply our policies at scale.”

She spoke about the massive reach YouTube has, which currently stands at 1.8bn registered users watching every month, not including more casual users who do not yet have accounts.

In the wake of the litany of controversies, several brands severed ties with YouTube, including Procter & Gamble, which said it will return to the platform on the condition that it can review videos before agreeing its adverts can appear on them.

MediaRadar, a marketing intelligence firm, said advertisers in the US have not really slowed down in terms of ad buys on YouTube. “This may signal that major brands believe that YouTube’s significant efforts and investment to curb content violators are working,” it said.

The company is also working on new content collaborations with major celebrities. Will Smith will bungee jump out of a helicopter live for charity on the platform this September and LeBron James will be producing a basketball documentary series called Best Shot.

YouTube app icon on iPhone X. Image: BigTunaOnline/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects