Many major YouTube creators have expressed frustration over the surge in comments on their channels in recent weeks, including Linus Tech Tips, Jacksepticeye, and MKBHD. The problem was especially acute for these high-profile creators, who often see more malicious commentators impersonating them in an attempt to scam their viewers.
“YouTube has a problem. Spam,” Linus Sebastian said when starting a video on Feb. 1 on his Linus Tech Tips channel. “From crypto scams to health supplements to free Robux, it’s getting worse every day.”
“Youtube comment spam has been uncontrollable for months,” reads the description of Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee’s April 1 video titled “YouTube Needs to Fix This.”
Spam from YouTube comments can take many forms. Big creators often worry about spam imitating them, promise viewers something good to message them, then somehow distract individuals from YouTube and eventually scam them.
Other spam comments may be less overtly malicious, but still annoying or potentially harmful. In a video dated March 6, Seán “Jacksepticeye” McLoughlin discusses how his channel gets copy-paste of real-looking comments, but they’ll be shared by users with names like “T[A]p me!! To have [S]EX with me”. (If you see a profile with that name, don’t click or tap it.)
YouTube has many tools to fight spam-like comments, and many of them are removed automatically. Using machine learning and human assessment, the company “deleted more than 950 million comments in the fourth quarter of 2021 alone for violating our spam, deception and scam policies,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said in a statement. The edge. “The vast majority” of those deletions were first detected by automated marking systems,” Choi said.
But those systems clearly weren’t enough, and YouTube seems to know it. Brownlee posted about a new one on Friday experimental moderation function that will “increase” the severity of potentially inappropriate comments that are automatically held for review. It’s unclear what exactly will change with this feature or when YouTube expects it to be generally available, and we’ve asked Choi for clarification.
This “Increase Strictness” content moderation tool is a new experiment from YouTube that has been in the works for a while. I hope it can make a dent in this comment spam we see so much lately pic.twitter.com/KVkjVCOUKZ
— Marquis Brownlee (@MKBHD) Apr 8, 2022
It sounds like YouTube is keeping a close eye on the matter. “Given the changing nature and tactics of spammed content, we will continue to adapt our systems to stay up to date,” Choi said. And creators can take spam comments into their own hands, too – both Sebastian and Brownlee mentioned the “YouTube Spammer Purge” tool created by YouTuber ThioJoe, which “allows you to filter and search for spam comments on your channel and other people’s channel(s) across many different channels.” ways AND delete/report them all at once,” according to the GitHub description.
But for YouTube creators who are processing a lot of spam-like comments right now, it’s not clear whether there will be a reprieve anytime soon.