YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has this week published her latest platform performance update, addressing a range of issues, but most notably, focusing on YouTube's response to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
As explained by Wojcicki:
"We have always been proud that we are a platform that celebrates a broad and diverse set of voices, and we have implemented many policies and product features to protect our communities. But we recognize we need to do more, in particular with the Black community."
Addressing this, YouTube will launch a new, multi-year $100 million fund dedicated to amplifying and developing the voices of Black creators and artists and their stories. This comes in addition to the $1 million that YouTube has also pledged to support organizations seeking to address injustice.
Wojcicki says that YouTube is also hosting a live-stream fundraising event this week, with donations benefiting the Equal Justice Initiative, while YouTube will also look to highlight racial justice via its Spotlight channel throughout the month of June.
In addition to this, YouTube will also re-assess its policies around hateful, white supremacist, and bullying content.
"I’m committed to listening - to Black employees at YouTube, to Black creators, to Black artists, to leaders in the Black community, and to Black users who tune in to YouTube every day. There is much work to do to advance racial equity in the long-term, and these efforts will continue in the months and years ahead."
Aside from these initiatives, Wojcicki also outlines YouTube's ongoing efforts to ensure that users are being connected to relevant, timely and accurate information on COVID-19, while also noting the rising use of YouTube for learning amid the lockdowns.
In terms of specific usage trends:
- Watchtime on TV screens is up over 250% year-over-year, while people are also viewing live streams at a much higher rate.
- YouTube has removed over 200,000 videos for violating the platform's rules around harmful medical information, with the majority specifically related to COVID-19 misinformation.
- With people looking for ways to relax amid the ongoing onslaught of concerning news stories, YouTube has seen a 45% increase in views of meditation videos, amid overall rising popularity of mindfulness and wellbeing content.
Wojcicki notes that user wellbeing will be a key focus moving forward, while it's also looking to provide more ways for creators to generate revenue from their videos due to fluctuating ad markets caused by COVID-19.
In her latter notes, Wojcicki also comments on US President Donald Trump's push to reform Section 230 laws, which could have significant impacts for all online platforms.
"We believe undermining Section 230 would impact our ability to protect our users and would also significantly limit content from a wide range of creators across the political spectrum who have a voice on our platform. Such a change might require online services like YouTube to "over-filter" content, making it more difficult for creators to share breaking news, create learning content, expose injustice, and amplify a diversity of voices and opinions."
That sentiment has largely been echoed by all within the sector, noting that any change to the law would have the opposite effect than intended.
Wojcicki's comments provide some interesting insight into YouTube's current focus, and where it's looking to develop, based on usage trends, while also pointing to new opportunities and tools for creators.
You can read Wojcicki's full update post here.