YouTube is killing clickable links in Shorts descriptions and comments to help prevent spammage.
Starting Aug. 31, links in Shorts descriptions/comments will no longer be clickable. That includes links both from the video’s original creator and links from commenters. YouTube is also removing all current clickable social media icons from creators’ channels on mobile and desktop.
YouTube says Shorts’ rapid expansion has “made it easier for spammers and scammers to share links in Shorts comments and Shorts descriptions that harm the community—for example, clickable links that drive users to malware, phishing, or scam-related content.”
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It has spam-combating systems and policies in place, it adds, but “we need to take additional preventative measures to make it harder to take advantage of users via links.”
If you’re a creator reading this and going, “Thanks, YouTube! How exactly am I supposed to direct people to my latest long-form video/merch drop/etc?” we feel you. YouTube says it’s working on features that will let creators direct viewers to their other content in a way that spammers (at least for now) can’t co-opt.
On Aug. 23, it’ll add “prominent clickable links” on creators’ channels near the Subscribe button. These seem primarily intended to direct viewers to creators’ other social media channels and merch sites, but creators can use them for any link that complies with YouTube’s community guidelines.
We asked YouTube if these new channel links have any additional scanning or requirements to make sure they’re legit. A spokesperson told us, “The new channel profile link is protected by existing systems and policies that detect and remove abusive links. Since there is a limit to the number of links that can be added in the new channel profile link, it does not have the same volume and velocity challenges as Shorts comments and Shorts descriptions.”
Then, sometime in September, YouTube will roll out a way for creators to link their Shorts content to their long-form content. It gave no details about this feature, just said the new method will be “safer” than adding a raw URL to the Shorts description.
YouTube added that it’s “actively working to address” spams and scams in other areas of its platform. Over the last year, its successful targeting and removal of accounts impersonating creators, artists, and public figures has gone up by 35%. It’s also seen a 200% increase in the number of spammy/scammy comments caught by the “increase strictness” feature of its comment moderation tool.
It says it’s “continuing to invest in better detection and removal of harmful content across YouTube as a whole.”