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YouTube making age-restriction more consistent (and harder to bypass)

YouTube has announced several changes to help ensure that viewers younger than 18 will not see inappropriate content. Videos that do not violate YouTube's Community Guidelines, but show dangerous activities, sexually suggestive content, disturbing imagery, heavy profanity or are otherwise not appropriate for younger audiences may only be viewed by users older than 18. 

Currently some videos are not age-restricted when they should be, and, of course, younger teens will try to get around the restrictions. That means younger viewers may be exposed to content meant for adults. 

There are several changes being implemented over the next few months that should help prevent that from happening.

Development of machine learning technology to automatically apply age-restrictions

Up until now, age-restriction has usually been applied manually. Improved automated review will allow YouTube to automatically age-restrict inappropriate content.

YouTube already is using automated systems to determine if content is "made for kids" or violates the advertiser-friendly content guidelines

The age-restricted content policy applies to videos, live streams, video descriptions, custom thumbnails, and "any other YouTube product or feature."

Age-restricted content embedded on third party websites will direct viewers to YouTube.

Currently if an age-restricted video is embedded on a third party site - like this blog! - anyone can watch the video. 

When this change is implemented, generally the only way to watch an age-restricted video will be to sign in to YouTube and view it there. 

Note that if you embed videos on your own website or blog, this may direct readers away from your content to YouTube. Check whether videos are age-restricted before embedding them on your site by opening the video in an Incognito window or otherwise signed out from your Google account.

Age verification in Europe

In order to comply with the European Union’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), YouTube will be implementing a new age verification step. 

Some European viewers may be asked to provide proof of age if YouTube's "systems" are not able to establish they are at least 18 years old. When prompted, users may supply a copy of a valid ID or credit card to verify their age.

Will these changes affect monetization or views? 

Age restriction is unlikely to affect YouTube Partner Program earnings, as the affected videos usually  also violate the advertiser-friendly guidelines, and so are not showing ads anyway.

Beyond monetization, age restriction may limit views of your videos, as under-18s and anyone not signed into their Google account won't be able to watch your content. 

Also, age-restricted videos aren't likely to be viewable on computers with restricted mode enabled, which may be the case at schools, in libraries, or on devices shared by families.

If you make "edgy" videos that have not been age-restricted in the past, these changes may result in age-restriction and fewer views.

How to appeal age restriction on your video

If your video is age restricted, YouTube will send you an email notification. If you are sure it's appropriate for viewers under 18, you can submit an appeal. Note that you can only submit an appeal one time. 

1. Sign in to YouTube on desktop and open YouTube Studio (studio.youtube.com)

2. Click Videos on the left menu to open your Channel Videos page

3. The Restrictions column will indicate a video is age-restricted

4. Click the Appeals Link to submit an appeal.

YouTube promises "your appeal will get sent directly to our team of expert policy reviewers (real people, not systems/bots!)."

Wait, how old does YouTube think I am? 

You can check that your birth date is set correctly in your Google account. 

1. Sign in to the Google account you use to access YouTube

2. On any Google site, click your profile photo at top right and select Manage your Google Account (myaccount.google.com)

3. Click Personal Info (myaccount.google.com/personal-info)

4. Click Birthday (myaccount.google.com/personal-info)

You can correct your birth date if it's set incorrectly. 

Learn more

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