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Google has had it up to here with the kind of low-life riff-raff that’s overpowering the good, decent folk who live ‘round these parts. Google doesn’t want to see your racist, violent, and sexist comments, and it definitely doesn’t want to catch you buying fake views.
YouTube announced plans to audit videos for fake views, “periodically.” Historically, it was able to scan for spam, but now it will quietly find and delete the fraudulent ones.
We don’t expect this approach to affect more than a minuscule fraction of videos on YouTube, but we believe it’s crucial to improving the accuracy of view counts and maintaining the trust of our fans and creators.
In the same way that seedy companies exist to post fake Yelp reviews, edit Wikipedia pages, and botch app launches in Google Play, there exists a breed of marketing companies who serve to inflate the view count of certain YouTube videos.
YouTube wants content creators to know that paying these companies is a waste of their money. Any short-term benefit they get from buying views to inflate their numbers will fizzle away as soon as the videos get audited. Plus, their accounts could get suspended and deleted.
While YouTube is downplaying the audits as if they’re no big deal – it’s just a small update that will only affect the guilty parties – Business Insider is playing up the stakes. They described fakes views as “a huge threat” to the video platform.
YouTube generated $5.6 Billion in ad revenue in 2013 and plans to increase that in 2014 by competing with traditional TV as an ad space. Advertisers need to believe that their ads on YouTube are just as effective as if they were on CBS or Animal Planet. As soon as advertisers lose faith in YouTube and believe that views are fake and hyper-inflated, they’ll start spending their money elsewhere. This is why it’s in YouTube’s best interest to downplay the severity of the fake views.
As mentioned above, Google has been trying to purge the undesirables from YouTube by punishing accounts with fake views and retooling the comments section to hide obscene and offensive content.
Back in November, YouTube integrated Google+ into its comments section and tweaked its algorithm to showcase certain comments over others. Users with strong Google+ presences would be featured, along with other people in each user’s circles. Ideally, when one person read the comments section, he or she would see their friends and co-workers who already saw the video as well as influencers related to the content. I think we can all agree that this is substantially better than highlighting expletive-abusing racists.
As it turned out, users who argued with the trolls ended up fuelling their power. All of the rebuttals against the derogatory statements pushed the negative comments to the top, reinforcing YouTube’s reputation as a dangerous place to comment.
Side note: YouTube users were also up in arms about having to use Google+ to comment, and accused Google of using their popular website to promote their unpopular one.
As most content creators aren’t buying fake views, vloggers and YouTube stars were visibly more upset about the comments update. However, it’s these exact creators that YouTube is trying to protect with the purge.
When YouTube is perceived as a place with legitimate views, where healthy discussions are held, advertisers spend more money. This advertising money also lands in to the pockets of content creators who make a living off of YouTube. These updates might be a pain in the short term, but will look better for their bank accounts in the long run.