‘Big tech is again attempting to define the range of acceptable political discussion on its platforms; this week YouTube announced a number of changes in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic, chief among those being that automated systems, rather than humans, will predominantly be authorizing or removing content in the foreseeable future.
“As COVID-19 evolves, we’re doing our best to support those who watch, create, & make a living on YouTube. Many of us here & in our extended workforce are unable to work as usual, so we’re reducing staffing in certain offices, causing some disruptions,” it said in a message on Twitter. “With fewer people to review content, our automated systems will be stepping in to keep YouTube safe. More videos will be removed than normal during this time, including content that does not violate our Community Guidelines. We know this will be hard for all of you.”
The news that the video sharing platform is now at the mercy of an automated system that even its creators admit does not function properly was greeted with skepticism, especially as YouTube did not explain why watching and judging content on its platform could not be done remotely.
Other big tech firms like Facebook and Twitter also notified the public that they were switching to potentially defective automated moderation during the pandemic. Facebook had been criticized last week for insisting that employees continue to come to work but has now performed an about face. “We may see some longer response times and make more mistakes as a result,” it similarly warned.’