YouTube Enacts Tougher Standards for Adult Content

Dec 3, 2008 7:00 AM PST
CYBERSPACE — YouTube is cracking down on porn — even the non-explicit kind.

Almost since YouTube's inception, enterprising adult industry professionals have promoted their websites on YouTube by posting non-explicit clips that typically included titillating introductory scenes from movies along with a legible watermark that listed a web address.

These clips have, for the most part, survived the YouTube censors because they adhere – if just barely – to the Internet giant's terms of service, which prohibit pornographic content.

But as of this week, YouTube is going to clamp down on adult, specifically with “stricter standard for mature content,” which is not specifically defined. In addition, "sexually explicit" videos – also not defined – will be removed from the most viewed, top favorited and other prominent pages.

Adult performer Nikki Benz told XBIZ that she uses her YouTube profile to send non-explicit shout-outs to fans.

"If [the YouTube staff] shuts me down, that's just sad," she said.

In the event that Benz does lose her YouTube privileges, she said that she would continue promoting herself through other social networking sites, including Flickr and Twitter.

YouTube is also implementing another high-level technological change designed to thwart spammers. To date, the preview screencap for a YouTube video has been the middle frame in a video. Spammers have exploited this feature by making spam videos that include one frame of racy content in the very center. But now screencaps will be chosen based on an algorithm.

Tech analyst Erick Schonfeld speculated that YouTube made these changes to pre-empt government interference.

"These new standards are not just about YouTube trying to class itself up," he wrote for TechCrunch.com. "The more it polices itself, the less likely that Congress or the FCC will try to police it in the future. For the FCC, its jurisdiction would probably be limited to mobile devices that access the Web over cellular networks."

In related news, Ning.com, a utility that lets users aggregate social network activity into a customized social network, will no longer allow adult-centric websites.

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