In August, YouTube has offered us a number of technical and ‘cosmetic’ changes. Besides a new layout and logo update, the video platform added new features to its app, and now offers us more news watching options and has taken another step against extremism.
Here is your roundup of YouTube developments in August:
A new integrated chat: To make users stay longer on the YouTube app, the company has introduced a messenger page within the app. Users can now access the chat function in the shared section of the app on the homepage. It will allow you to chat with your Google contacts without leaving the app. To chat, you need to send a request which has to be accepted by the contact. And similarly to WhatsApp, you can create groups to share all those videos and thoughts about them.
A new dark mode: Great newsfor all those night owls who love to watch YouTube videos in bed. Google has added a dark mode to the app to reduce the strain on your eyes when watching at night time. Surprisingly, there isn’t a button for this. The dark mode can be enabled through simple gestures while videos are playing. To activate, open a video and enter the landscape mode, then double tap on the blank space above the play button. To remove it, simply double tap the same spot again.
There is already a separate section for news on the trending page of the app. Now, YouTube is offering a whole new section for breaking news, providing updates on recent news stories on both the app and the homepage. It works similarly to recommended channels on the web page and like a scrollable carousel on the app between suggested videos. The feature is believed to be rolling out in phases and is currently available on selected Android devices only.
It is unclear whether the news shown are chosen by an algorithm or if they are being curated by hand. We are also waiting to hear more about its consistency, whether it will appear at all times or just during ongoing breaking news cycles.
YouTube has cracked down on their promise to work against extremist content on their platform. As of last week, they have made it more difficult for content containing hate speech to be found, shared and monetized.
The changes have been in progress for months after a plan was released in June to combat hate and extremism after much pressure from advertisers and governments for YouTube to take responsibility. YouTube is not necessarily removing all videos that are flagged as extremist but will instead reduce their visibility. The content will in no way be recommended, no ads will run on it as well as lack comments and a warning will appear when watching it. It is also no longer possible to embed flagged videos to external sites, drastically reducing their global reach.
YouTube believes that this will be the right balance between free expression and access to information whilst not promoting extremist or offensive points of view.
Creators who feel like their work has been wrongly flagged can appeal the decision to have YouTube review and possibly de-flag the content.