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Photo: Pedro Fiúza/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Google said in a statement Wednesday that it is updating harassment policy for YouTube to curb explicit threats, as well as veiled or implied threats and personal attacks, against viewers and content creators.

Why it matters: Google said it's strengthening its policies in part because it saw a growing trend of creators harassing other creators on the platform. In particular, it saw an uptick in creators starting YouTube channels dedicated to harassment.

What's new:

  1. Google says it's expanding protections around implied or indirect threats. Its policy previously drew bright lines around direct threats, things like doxing, or posts that called for violence. Now it's going a step further by saying it will take action against users who make indirect threats, like talking to someone about brandishing a weapon.
  2. It's expanding its rules on personal attacks to ensure that they apply to everyone, from private individuals to YouTube creators to public officials. Google says it will no longer allow content that maliciously insults someone based on their race, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
  3. It's tightening its policies for the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), which gives creators of YouTube videos greater access to YouTube resources and features. The policies will be tougher on those who engage in repeated harassment or borderline harassment by suspending ongoing offenders from YPP, and eliminating their ability to make money on YouTube. Repeated violators could have their YouTube channels banned altogether.
  4. It's making product changes to its comments feature. YouTube has begun to turn on its comments review feature by default for its largest channels. Google says the change will roll out to most channels by the end of the year, but that creators can opt out.

The big picture: Updates to policies around harassment or bullying are always difficult to negotiate, and sometimes enforce, because they can be subjectively interpreted.

  • Many Big Tech platforms, including Google, have also faced repeated accusations of bias in content moderation, particularly from conservatives.
  • While none of those allegations have been backed by substantial evidence, they force companies like Google to tread carefully when creating policies that could impact creators' freedom of speech.
  • Google said it took the company eight months to update its policies and consulted many experts, like online bullying organizations and free speech proponents, to ensure that the changes didn't just solve for one kind of incident or outcome.

Go deeper

9 hours ago - World

Over 170 Palestinians injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem

An injured man is carried away as Israeli security forces clash with Palestinian protesters at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem. Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images

At least 178 Palestinians have been injured in clashes with Israeli police in Jerusalem, Reuters reported late Friday.

The big picture: The clashes come amid growing anger over the threatened eviction of Palestinians from their homes on land claimed by Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Tensions have also escalated in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases hit a seven-month low — Majority back vaccine proof requirements for travel, schools and work — The race to avoid a possible "monster" COVID variant.
  2. Politics: Oklahoma secures $2.6 million refund for hydroxychloroquine purchase — Why Biden's latest vaccine goal is his hardest yet.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA approval of COVID-19 vaccine — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations — Americans' return to the skies could benefit smaller airlines.
  5. World: WHO authorizes China's Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use — Mixed response in Europe to Biden's vaccine patents bombshell.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Ohio GOP censures Rep. Anthony Gonzalez over Trump impeachment vote

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Ohio Republican Party on Friday censured Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Ohio) and called for him to resign for voting to impeach former President Trump in January, Reuters reports.

The big picture: Gonzalez is the latest Republican lawmaker to be punished for voting to impeach the former president on a charge of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.