Let’s talk about age-restricted videos

Over the last 24 hours, several creators, both in and out of the Fullscreen family, have come forward to report that some of their videos are being removed from users viewing content via the “Restricted Mode”. In an attempt to gather clarification, we reached out directly to YouTube, and while they aren’t able to reveal specifics about their algorithm, it seems that this comes down to specific metadata terms and age-restricted content.

In a nutshell…

Creators are finding out that some of their videos are not visible to particular audiences, specifically: “users who are logged out, are under 18 years of age, or have Restricted Mode enabled.”

What is Restricted Mode?

You can review the YouTube help article on it here, but essentially it’s a mode that can be enabled at the browser level or on your devices (computer, phone, etc.). It is intended for underage users to only be able to view “family-friendly content”. While that has a broad range of definitions, YouTube has internally decided what they consider to be family-friendly and is broadly applying those guidelines.

Why are videos age-restricted?

Age-restriction is a little different in that it is flagged by the community and reviewed by YouTube. Flagged content containing any of the following may be age-restricted:

  • Vulgar language
  • Violence and disturbing imagery
  • Nudity and sexually suggestive content
  • Portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities

Again, different people and cultures have differing opinions on what defines the above, so YouTube has to apply their policies as broadly as possible to be considerate of all users of their platform. Unfortunately, whenever rules are put into place on controversial topics, sometimes good upstanding citizens are affected.

Is my view count impacted by this?

If these age-restricted videos are only being hidden to users logged out, under 18, or have manually turned on Restricted Mode, the impact should be minimal. YouTube did tell us that the users with these features enabled are very low, therefore it’s safe to assume your views won’t be impacted in a meaningful way by this.

Here’s the deal

In our diverse world, nothing is ever perfect or meets everyone’s truths. YouTube, as a private company, does have the right to program certain content to certain users on their platform. The intention of this is to provide content that is safe for children to view, not to block content from the appropriate audience.

From the perspective of avoiding the automated filter, we recommend, when possible, avoiding using any terms that someone might consider offensive. We are by no means saying do not say the things you want to say, but you should definitely be aware that many of these decisions are being made by an automated machine. We do not have visibility to the terms on this list but it does sound like they are very broad. As we shared above, try to avoid using any terms that may not be family-friendly.

As a content creator, you should continue to make the videos you want to make, and say the things to the world that you need to say. It is your channel, it is your voice, and it will reach the people with ears open to your message. Don’t change your videos to match an algorithm. Don’t change your voice to please the trolls. Be the best you no matter what.


Update: YouTube recently responded with a quick update (below). We will continue to learn more, work with YouTube, and make sure that all of your voices are heard.