As part of its quarterly Community Guidelines Enforcement Report, YouTube plans to share a new statistic called VVR. Short for Violative View Rate, the stat details the percentage of views on YouTube that come from content that violates the company’s community guidelines. In effect, it’s a measure of how well YouTube is enforcing its own platform.
Toward the end of 2020, the company says its VVR rate was between 0.16 and 0.18 percent. That means between 16 and 18 out of every 10,000 views on the platform came from videos that violated its content guidelines. YouTube says the current number represents a greater than 70 percent decrease from where it was in 2017 when it first started tracking VVR. The company attributes the dramatic decline to the investments it made in machine learning technology to catch inappropriate content.
YouTube claims VVR is a better metric for tracking its performance than, for example, how long a questionable video stays up the platform. That may well be true, but there’s one significant caveat to everything. And that’s the stat only includes videos that violate the company’s policies. Plenty of questionable clips still find their way onto YouTube that people may find problematic but don’t necessarily break the company’s community guidelines. There are also the videos that fall into “borderline” categories, such as a ‘documentary’ livestream from outside of the recent mass shooting in Boulder the company decided to leave up after some consideration. YouTube doesn’t factor those into the stat, leaving us with only a partial picture of its enforcement efforts.