YouTube will require creators to label AI content as “synthetic”

By 11/14/2023
YouTube will require creators to label AI content as “synthetic”

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan has made it very clear the platform thinks that generative AI is a good thing for creators. But it’s still taking a page out of TikTok‘s book and requiring that videos made with AI be labeled “synthetic” so viewers know they’re watching “technically manipulated content.”

Like TikTok, YouTube says these labels–which will be introduced in the “coming months”–must be used on content that is “realistic.”

“For example, this could be an AI-generated video that realistically depicts an event that never happened, or content showing someone saying or doing something they didn’t actually do,” the platform said in a blog post. “This is especially important in cases where the content discusses sensitive topics, such as elections, ongoing conflicts and public health crises, or public officials.”


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There will be two types of labels. One, a general-use label for videos where AI was used, but the videos aren’t about sensitive topics, will go in the video description panel. And a second, more serious label will apply to videos about sensitive topics (like politics, pandemics, etc) and will appear in the actual video player.

YouTube also says that content created by its upcoming generative AI products (because yeah, it’s working on those) will be “clearly labeled as altered or synthetic.”

Creators who flout these new rules are in line for some serious consequences. YouTube says creators who “consistently choose not to disclose” that they used AI in their videos “may be subject to content removal, suspension from the YouTube Partner Program, or other penalties.”

It says it’ll work with creators before the labels roll out to make sure everyone “understands these new requirements.”

In the same blog post, YouTube acknowledged it’s gotten “continuous feedback from our community, including creators, viewers, and artists, about the ways in which emerging technologies could impact them.”

Its response to that continuous concern from creators and viewers is not to alter its bullish AI plans, but instead to just make it possible for people to report AI content that (1) “simulates an identifiable individual, including their face or voice,” and (2) “mimics an artist’s unique singing or rapping voice.”

But, it says up front, not all videos reported for these infractions will be removed.

“[W]e’ll consider a variety of factors when evaluating these requests. This could include whether the content is parody or satire, whether the person making the request can be uniquely identified, or whether it features a public official or well-known individual, in which case there may be a higher bar,” it said. And for music, it’ll consider “whether content is the subject of news reporting, analysis or critique of the synthetic vocals.”

That reporting option will arrive “in the coming months,” YouTube says.

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