Spam isn’t a new problem for social media, but everyone seems to agree that it’s gotten a lot worse lately.
YouTube is chipping away at its own spam woes with a few feature changes designed to make it harder for fake accounts to impersonate real ones.
Beginning on July 29, YouTube channels will no longer be able to hide their subscriber counts. Hiding subscriber numbers is an easy way for spam accounts to conceal what they really have going on in order to impersonate larger, established channels.
YouTube acknowledges that “some creators prefer to hide their subs count as they try to grow” but the company has deemed the potentially controversial measure necessary to reduce the prevalence of impersonators. The change is sure to upset some people, since really YouTube is removing an option here rather than adding something, but the company is making the move nonetheless.
The platform is also putting new special character restrictions on channel names, another measure designed to make it harder for impersonators to hide in plain sight. Some special characters won’t be allowed any more, but it sounds like you might still be able to toss a weird character in if it makes the cut. Basically, YouTube doesn’t want people spelling things out in all special characters à la “¥ouⓉube” — a common spam tactic.
Spam accounts often copy the name of whoever they’re pretending to be but subtly (or not very subtly) change one or two characters. At first glance, a fake channel might look like the real thing and at scale that’s enough to lure unwitting users to a fake channel or scammy links or whatever else they’re pushing.
YouTube is also announcing that its “increase strictness” comment moderation setting will be rolling out to all creators. The option, which can be toggled on in the community settings menu, will filter out comments more aggressively than the default setting, potentially eliminating more of what YouTube calls “identity abuse” along with other spammy stuff clogging up your corner of the platform.
YouTube creators have been calling attention to a frustrating uptick in spam in recent months. In April, consumer tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee posted a video expressing his frustration with the subject and remarking that for months he’s been dealing with spam that’s “next-level out of control” in his comments. Brownlee tweeted about YouTube’s “increase strictness” comment moderation tool at the time, and now that previously experimental feature will be available to everyone tired of slogging through spam.