George Floyd’s Death Blurred Out
YouTube sent me a late night email on Wednesday, August 4, 2021, informing me that a video on my channel was no longer compliant with the Community Guidelines and age restricted (a viewer must be 18 years or older and logged in to view the video).
That was odd.
I maintain a family- and advertiser-friendly, and, under the Federal Trade Commission’s COPPA, not “made for kids” channel. All my videos are suitable for a general audience (13 years or older).
Which video got age restricted?
My montage video that alternated clips from George Floyd’s death and the first SpaceX crewed flight while Gil Scott-Heron narrated his 1970 poem, “Whitey On The Moon,” about poverty on the earth and white men on the moon.
Watching my montage video didn’t make it obvious to me which parts were no longer compliant with the Community Guidelines.
Since I listed all the video sources in the description of my montage video, I opened a private browser window and clicked through the links.
The first two videos were age restricted.
I had ten seconds of four clips from the two videos that showed George Floyd underneath the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Ten seconds was all it took for the algorithm to age restrict my montage video.
I had three options for dealing with my newly age-restricted montage video.
Do nothing. Age-restricted videos can effectively disappear from YouTube, making it harder for viewers to find them. The daily views for this video would disappear in time. The number of age-restricted videos might be a factor when my channel qualifies for monetization.
Appeal the age restriction. I could argue that ten seconds out of one minute and 41 seconds shouldn’t age restrict a video. From my experience in dealing with YouTube, it’s all or nothing. Ten seconds was too much to be nothing.
Blur out parts of the video. The YouTube video editor on the backend makes it possible to blur out parts of an uploaded video. The only way to remove the age restriction was to blur out the offending content.
After I blurred out George Floyd’s body from the ten seconds of clips and deleted the links to the age restricted video, the age restriction fell off of my montage video a few days later.
According to The Washington Post on June 4, 2020, YouTube started age restricting and added warnings to some George Floyd videos uploaded by news organizations. Social media companies walked a fine line between too little and too much content moderation.
I recalled seeing some warnings when I viewed the various videos I wanted to use in my montage video. Since I’m always logged into YouTube, I never got prompted for the age restricted videos.
If I had known about the age restricted videos before I made my montage video, I would have blurred out the ten seconds while editing. Or not make the video at all.
The impact of George Floyd’s death came from being seen around the world for over a year. Unblurred.