In light of COVID-19, Google is mandating that its employees work from home. While the technology industry is better suited for remote work than most others, there are still some product impacts. YouTube announced today that it will more heavily rely on automated video review systems as a result of the coronavirus.

YouTube’s review process normally sees machine learning algorithms first flag potentially harmful content for humans to assess and take final action.

These teams and companies are staffed by thousands of people dedicated to helping users and creators. As the coronavirus response evolves, we are taking the steps needed to prioritize the well-being of our employees, our extended workforce, and the communities where they live, including reducing in-office staffing in certain sites.

These staffing changes will see YouTube “temporarily start relying more on technology to help with some of the work normally done by reviewers.” The goal is to protect the video platform in light of structural changes. This might result in increased video removals, as well as false positives.

This means automated systems will start removing some content without human review, so we can continue to act quickly to remove violative content and protect our ecosystem, while we have workplace protections in place.

The Google video site will not “issue strikes on this content except in cases where we have high confidence that it’s violative.” The appeal process is still in place, but that will also see delays due to reduced staff.

Meanwhile, YouTube will be more cautious about promoting livestreams and other content, while “unreviewed content may not be available via search, on the homepage, or in recommendations.” It comes as the service is likely seeing an uptick for both entertainment and education purposes.

Increased automation will also apply to Google’s other products, with the company today detailing the impact on its workforce.

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