YouTube has instated a new program called Heroes, which will help the site moderate inappropriate subject matter in comments and videos.
YouTube launched a video on Tuesday explaining the Heroes program, and the video has already received an overwhelming amount of dislikes.. Participants of this program will be asked to flag inappropriate comments, add subtitles and captions to videos that they watch, and in turn, YouTube will give them prizes. This program comes after controversy regarding the site’s recent demonetization of many videos, causing content creators to grow increasingly concerned over their apparent lack of artistic freedom.
YouTube is giving its Heroes incentive to participate through a gaming mentality. Heroes enter the program at a beginner’s level, and the more comments and videos they flag, the more prizes they can unlock. The prizes range from gaining access to group video chats with other Heroes, to early knowledge about product launches, to the ability to flag multiple videos as inappropriate instead of needing to pick just one at a time. Conversation surrounding this new program focuses on YouTube’s choice not to delegate compensated employees to help maintain clean content on the site, and instead are seeking users to provide free labor, and who are ultimately untrained to pick out the correct content YouTube is looking to eliminate. As the Heroes program is designed to feel like a video game, users will likely grow addicted and attempt to reach higher levels by marking as much inappropriate content as they see fit.
Anyone is able to sign up to be a part of the Heroes program, and those who spend significant time on the site already may find that this program offers them a form of authority and a greater feeling of inclusion in the online community. However, being that the majority of YouTubers consider this a way for the site to obtain free labor, people feel the future of YouTube content relies in the hands of power-hungry “snitches” who will use this authority to report accounts they personally dislike.
This backlash and criticism of YouTube’s new choices comes at a time when creators are already feeling stifled by their ability to express themselves without getting punished in the form of demonetized videos and a decreased income. Content creators on YouTube are the meat of what brings anyone to the site, and the site has launched numerous digital careers. Now that is has grown such an enormous user base, YouTube is able to prioritize advertisers’ wishes over artists. Advertisers do not want their brand as a part of degrading or hateful content.
Though creators are concerned about the future of YouTube now that it appears to be heading forward with immense censorship, perhaps this will open the door to an online community filled with less online bullying and negativity, which is found in the comments of virtually all YouTube’s viral videos. YouTube, of course, gets the overarching decision regarding content that ultimately stays or goes, so the Heroes program is up and running for anyone who wants to partake.