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YouTube’s “limited creator history” rating, explained

“Video unavailable.”

It’s always a disappointment when you click on a YouTube link and see this message. Sometimes it means the video has been deleted. Other times, it means the user has changed the video settings to make it private.

However, over the past few weeks, YouTube users have noticed a new “video unavailable” message:

“This video is popular!” plays the warning, preventing viewers from watching the YouTube video. “Due to limited creator history, we are limiting viewership. Subscribe to this channel to help this creator reach a wider audience.”

Word quickly spread on social media about the warning. A Reddit post of February 2, on the subject received more than 50,000 upvotes. conspiracy theories broadcast on Twitter, with users believing YouTube implemented the new policy specifically to stifle far-right livestreams, anti-vaccine mandate rallies what happened in canada.

However, “limited creator history” is not a direct response to current events.

According to YouTube, the company has officially instituted a New policy in September 2021 regarding mobile live streaming. Prior to the change, a user could not stream to their YouTube channel via a mobile device unless they had at least 1,000 subscribers. The change to this policy allowed anyone with a YouTube channel to live stream via their mobile device with “safeguards” in place.

One such safeguard is to limit viewers on mobile live streams hosted on small channels to prevent abuse and limit those who seek to quickly spread harmful content. The policy is broad and affects the entire platform, which means that even if a particular stream is not abusive or does not spread harmful content, this message will appear if it has less than 1,000 subscribers.

“We’re always exploring new ways to allow creators to use more features while protecting our community,” a YouTube spokesperson said in an email conversation with Mashable. “To help budding small creators, while preventing abuse of mobile live streaming, we’ve created safeguards to limit the delivery of potentially harmful content. If a channel has fewer than a thousand subscribers, we limit the number of viewers on mobile live streams.

Mashable found the first mention on Twitter of the “limited creator history” warning from over a month ago, on January 8, 2022. A Twitter user to attempt to watch a dog sledding live stream broadcast by a channel with less than 300 subscribers who said they received the message.

The first report of seeing this warning on Twitter occurred two full weeks before the truck convoy started. And limiting views on the dog sledding stream doesn’t exactly stifle political dissent, though that sounds boring if you’re an Iditarod fan.

But YouTube has long required users to build their channels and develop a directory on the platform before they can access certain features. From a business perspective, this minimizes abuse on the platform.

The policy also likely helps their community guidelines policies by preventing ban bypasses of suspended users creating new accounts. If a YouTuber gets a warning and can’t stream to their channel, what would stop them from just streaming live to a new channel they just set up? This policy.

And it’s also likely that another important aspect of the policy from the company’s perspective is that it prevents night channels from illegally airing copyrighted content, like the Olympics or a new movie.

However, the warning message itself is rather vague. It doesn’t tell you exactly how long a user will be blocked from watching the video. A user can also understand the message to mean that if he subscribes to the channel, then he can immediately watch the video. (They can’t.) YouTube seems to be aware of the issue.

“We apply these safeguards to all channels that stream from mobile and have fewer than 1,000 subscribers,” a YouTube spokesperson said. “We understand that in-product messaging can be confusing, so we’re working on updating it.”

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