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YouTube has added the ‘YouTube Heroes Program’, which allows users to mass flag videos when they reach the third of five total ‘Levels.’ Users enrolled in the program will gain points towards these levels by performing actions such as moderating inappropriate comments and flagging videos that are against YouTube’s terms of service.

Essentially, the five levels allow the ‘Hero’ to progressively become more involved with the inner workings of YouTube. YouTube Heroes’ first ‘Level’ begins by allowing the user to access the Heroes ‘dashboard’ and ‘community’, while the second level trains the ‘Hero’ for moderating YouTube while also allowing them to participate in a video chat with other ‘Heroes’.

The third level begins the Heroes’ moderation duties in earnest by allowing the Hero to mass flag YouTube videos and to “help moderate community content”. Levels above this will allow Heroes a ‘sneak peak’ of new products and give them direct contact with YouTube staffers. The most successful members of the program will be enrolled in future tests of YouTube’s features and picked to participate in a “YouTube Heroes Summit” of some description.

If you are interested in joining the ranks of YouTube’s ‘Heroes’, be sure to sign up here.


Quick Take:

This is an idea that seems straight out of The Onion. Any YouTuber that has attracted even the slightest amount of controversy should be incredibly wary of this new program. The average user cannot be fully trusted with the maintenance of a website, and from the outside looking in it seems YouTube is determined to destroy itself as quickly and efficiently as possible. I fully expect YouTube to backtrack from this once it becomes widely known, although I wouldn’t bet against them doubling down on this program either. Either way, this is an incredibly bad idea, and YouTube’s languishing competition would do well to take advantage of this.

What do you think of this new program? Will this radically change how YouTube operates in the future? Let us know in the comments!


Patrick Perrault

Staff Writer

Writer for TechRaptor, who hopes to gain valuable experience in a constantly changing industry.



  • Einherjar

    Is this the version of “Service Outsourcing” ?
    Instead of hiring competent mods for high-traffic content, they now award users “hero badges” for becoming internet vigilantes…amazing.

    It is bad enough that YouTubes sub-systems like the “Content-ID” system, the strikes-modell etc are wonky at best, non-functional at worst. Now they incite mass content flagging and calling these people “Heros” on top of it.

    As far as im concerned, this is the de facto epitome of confirmation-bias, information-bubble and safe-space.

    Do you have to be a cynic to draw connections to YouTubes recent vague “Advert Friendly” community guideline changes and this nonsense ?
    It pretty much paved the way to consider everything and their mother inappropriate. Way to score hero points !

  • WeAreScrewed

    This is 100% proof that even if you are a technological genius, you can still be completely devoid of common sense.

  • Sarusig Musicman

    I’m sure these “heroes” will totally not end up being people who are politically motivated or biased, just like Wikipedia editors are totally not biased. I wonder how far Youtube can push until it shoots itself in the foot so hard it actually hurts itself.

  • NorBdelta

    So many avenues to abuse it……..

  • NorBdelta

    I got an invitation and flagged the YouTube Heroes video as inappropriate ;D But seriously, group think can be very dangerous, especially when groups form to start removing content they dislike or because of agenda.

  • Well, I can officially call it myself. Yes, I am finally saying it. YOUTUBE. IS. DEAD.

    So much for my own little Youtube idea. I’m stayin’ the f*ck away now.

  • LEOXD

    1. Regardless who or how many flag a video, they never are instantly taken down. They always are reviewed by YouTube employees.
    2. Trusted Flaggers have been around for quite some time, and some of the TFs have flagged literally millions of videos
    3. Heroes is more of an umbrella for already existing programs, such as the Top Contributor program, than it is a really new thing.

  • R.J.

    “Heroes”… right.

    Sounds like a ctrl-left wet dream, a fantastic tool to harass their ideological opponents.

  • Gasbandit

    Snitches get stitches.

    Also, who thought it would be a good idea to make the thumbnail for the “report your fellow citizens to the authorities” program to be a WHITE CIRCLE on a RED BACKGROUND? All that’s missing is the swastika.

  • More like ‘An Heroes Program’ amirite.

  • BurntToShreds

    Can’t wait for all of the creators with millions of subscribers to create whiny videos about “SENSE OR SHIP FREEZE PEACH!!1!” before they see if there’s really an uptick in perfectly reasonable videos getting taken down. I can already hear Cr1TiKaL revving up his recording equipment to piss and moan about this.

    Wait a while, see what happens, and then get angry if this actually becomes a problem. Is that really so hard?

  • coboney

    Its the Google – Valve Business model.
    1) Build something and get a near monopoly
    2) Run it with algorithms and minimal human oversight
    3) Any human oversight should be crwodsourced

  • BurntToShreds

    Thank you for bringing some much-needed rationality to this discussion. Also, more people eventually having direct contact with Youtube’s staff should be considered a good thing.

    Edit: I just thought of something; big creators like h3h3 who know some people in YouTube and are interested in seeing the site better itself could call on their fans to sign up and go out to flag actually nasty videos and comments. But will they actually do that or will they complain about how YouTube is dying for the umpteenth time?

  • giygas

    Valve’s business model is also shitty, but at least Valve doesn’t have overt political biases.

  • Adrian Torres

    I’m more than 110% certain the Thought Polic-I mean Youtube Heroes will make the Youtube Safe Again ™

  • lucben999

    The probably know it will be abused, they know by whom and they’re counting on it to get rid of those pesky shitlords.

  • lucben999

    More “it’s nothing new” BS.

    Just like the changes to the TOS were “nothing new”. Make horrible changes, wait a year before you start enforcing them and then make the excuse that the changes were already there so there’s nothing new. Another nice piece of bullshit is claiming that only the notification system got improved, when people like Karen Straughan confirmed their ad revenue was cut in half only after the notices started arriving.

  • LEOXD

    You are misinformed. The TOS “change” was nothing new, they have been in place for quite some time. The enforcement hasn’t changed either, the only issue was that you got notified about all videos that got demonetized in the past 5 years at once.

  • lucben999

    As I said, they have been in place for one year and, as I also said, ad revenue dropped only after the notices. You’re just repeating what I already refuted.

  • BurntToShreds

    1) First off, those “Advert-friendly” community guideline changes that everyone flipped out over just a bit back weren’t really changes at all. What YouTube did was increase the amount of transparency surrounding a policy that they had implemented a while back and had been quietly enforcing since then. The only real change was that they enabled creators to appeal the demonetization of their videos. They actually gave creators more power. The Internet Creators’ Guild created an article about this:

    https://medium.com/internet-creators-guild/youtube-de-monetization-explained-44464f902a22

    2) The program allows a larger number of people to have a line of direct contact with actual humans at YouTube. Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing? You yourself could sign up, go around flagging terrorist propaganda and genuine dirtbag commenters slinging death threats and racial slurs all over the place, add captions and subtitles to videos (Because, having actually clicked the link at the end of the article, I found out that this isn’t all about flagging content) and eventually get to a position where you could get info about their upcoming features and preview them yourself. Again, like what YouTube did just a while back, this increases transparency.

    3) This could give popular creators that want YouTube to get better at its job and become more transparent (h3h3, Phillip DeFranco, Boogie, Cr1TiKaL, etc.) a leg up. They could create videos and tell their fans “This is what we’ve been waiting for, it’s time to seize the day.”

    This provides a very real opportunity for YouTube to become more transparent and open about its decisions.

  • Cy

    Because, traditionally, asking people to police their neighbors for wrongthink has never gone wrong.

  • For some reason I’m reminded of that Battlestar Galactica episode where the Cylons recruit a human police force (calling them heroes and offering them special privileges) in the hopes that it’ll make their occupation of the human civilization go more smoothly.

  • GeekVariety

    This pretty much sums everything up https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0LB6a2rqCLo&ab_channel=BigandRobot

    This is horrible
    This is bad
    This will not end well

  • BurntToShreds

    The Internet Creator’s Guild wrote an article that explained how the de-monetization actually worked, and included graphs of revenue for two different de-monetized videos. They were de-monetized back then, not when the notices started coming out. For more information, look up the article “YouTube De-Monetization Explained” or check out the link in my reply to Einherjar.

  • Cap’n Catpants

    You can tell exactly who they got this idea from.

  • Cap’n Catpants

    I thought it was more 100% proof that common sense doesn’t matter if you’re profit from screwing everyone else over, or are protecting career criminals, scammers and fraudsters.

  • BurntToShreds

    So how exactly do you think Google should do its job? Hire on thousands more people to deal with every single claim and comment? YouTube right now is barely profitable as it is; paying tons more people to sift through garbage and deal with people’s reports as a day job would likely make them go in the red. Asking volunteers to take some time out of their day to help out and rewarding them for doing what is largely a depressing, thankless job is the most logical way to approach the moderation of a site that has 300 hours of video per minute uploaded to it. Also, Alphabet/Google/YouTube isn’t stupid; they likely have safeguards and people in place to deal with abuses. They live and breathe data; keeping tabs on Heroes who are acting like scumbags should be a breeze for them.

  • BurntToShreds

    And it looks like the cry-storm has started. Can’t wait for even more “LE ESSJAYDUB CONSPIRACY KILLS YOUTUBE??!?” whinging.

  • Einherjar

    How should they run their site ? Well, one thing is for sure: Different than they are now.
    They already lost a large chunk of people to Twitch. If this “advert friendly” policy nonsense keeps increasing, they arent “seizing the day” they are killing their own brand quicker than you can say “Google+”.

    What you said in your first comment is absolutely correct…IF the world was a perfect happy wonderland.
    And Newsflash: It isnt. Far far from it.
    What this enables are flagging “farms” shutting down any form of content they do not like.
    And if you havent lived under a rock the last few years, you would know that there is actually very little the people this system appeals to actually like other than their own opinions and world views.

    “If a system can be abused, it WILL be abused”. There is simply no two ways about it.

    And your “Safeguard” argument is laughable. Where have these safeguards been the last years ?
    Where have they been in Content-ID abuse ? Where have they been in counter-claim attempts ?

    And keeping tabs on “Rogue Heros” ? Are you kidding me ? You mean, like, Twitter ?
    They actively HIRED scumbags to operate their moderation.
    Or Facebook ? Who hired an ex-Stasi operative in Germany to start a mass censorship campaign ?

    Or are those just the dumb sites, unlike YouTube ?

    This whole point system is tailor made for the Tumblr crowd who solely operate on a “Did i good, Sempai ?” mindset. Getting points for “ridding the world of hatespeech” is a prime opportunity for these loonies.

  • BurntToShreds

    If they’re promising things like live video chat sessions and direct lines of contact with YouTube staff, they’re likely going to have a dedicated Heroes department to deal with that and to tamp down on abuse of the system. Excuse me for having a little faith that YouTube might’ve actually finally gotten its stuff together for this initiative rather than bleating on about how YouTube is dying and everything’s being co-opted by those pesky EssJayDubs.

  • LEOXD

    1. This is how YouTube works. Source: https://youtube.googleblog.com/2016/09/why-flagging-matters.html
    2. There are several NGOs with the goal of protecting children (such as jugendschutz.net [German]) which are trusted flaggers. Trusted flaggers have an accuracy of >95%, while the general public has an accuracy of ~33%.
    3. Fails to work? Can you elaborate?

  • Nope Naw

    Stalin?

  • Casey

    Oh great. Now we can be our own gestapo!

  • Well, that’s YouTube officially dead to me.

  • Casey

    “Excuse me for having a little faith that YouTube might’ve actually finally gotten its stuff together for this initiative…”

    Since when has youtube ever had their stuff together for any of their initiatives? The kerfuffle over the ad friendly nonsense shows that they can’t even communicate with their base. If youtube had taken just one moment to send out an email to say “Hey, we’ve been doing this ad friendly thing for awhile, but it’s not been very visible, now it will be.” they could have saved them and the entire internet a bitchfit.

  • Nope Naw

    “So how exactly do you think Google should do its job? Hire on thousands
    more people to deal with every single claim and comment?”

    Actually, yes! I’ve heard this “Youtube isn’t profitable” from god damn near everyone, EXCEPT Google. Whenever there’s an article saying “Youtube still isn’t making money”, there’s never a direct source. Never.

    If Youtube was the economical disaster people make it out to be, Google would fucking axe it. Are they doing that? No, they’re spending hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars to have youtubers make shows for Red, make conventions of their own and appearances at other conventions, send people hunks of fucking metal for subscriber count.

    All of this fucking money could be spent to restructure the site and set up handfuls of teams to deal with issues concerning videos.

    But that’s not as profitable as just throwing a slapped-together community “solution” to the problem. Which is why we’re seeing what we’re seeing now.

    ” Also, Alphabet/Google/YouTube isn’t stupid; they likely have safeguards
    and people in place to deal with abuses. They live and breathe data;
    keeping tabs on Heroes who are acting like scumbags should be a breeze
    for them.”

    Weaselwords. If they cared an iota to have safeguards for their programs and solutions, then we wouldn’t have the problems with Content-ID, flagging campaigns, DMCA, de-monetization, and whatever else horseshittery surfaces every now and then.

    The video someone else posted in the comments here made a very good point about the “Heroes” thing. It incentivizes people to act when they normally wouldn’t have, and that’s just one facet of the foreseeable problems this thing is going to cause.

    I’ll agree with you on one thing. Google isn’t stupid.

    They’re just evil.

  • vonSanneck

    This is so open to abuse I’m not even sure how long it will last.

  • BurntToShreds

    I agree with you that the lack of communication on the “ad-friendly” stuff was a problem. This could be a turning point, however. Here’s what they did this time around:

    They posted a video on a channel with 3 million subscribers announcing a feature that they’re now taking applications for. They’re allowing users to have early access to new features and direct contact with YouTube staff as a perk for giving back to the community. Giving those perks to everybody all at once or only people with huge subscriber counts wouldn’t’ve turned out well, I believe. The video’s description has a link to a Google Support page which itself has ample linkage to a lot of information about the program and the rules. They clearly planned this out. And still, people are proclaiming that YouTube is dead. YouTube finally did what a lot of users and creators asked them to do, but they’re still getting flak for it.

  • Travis

    “Also, Alphabet/Google/YouTube isn’t stupid; they likely have safeguards and people in place to deal with abuses.”

    You mean like they do with false flagging videos for DMCA claims? Oh… wait…

  • the7k

    There better be a “YouTube Villains” program that gives false flaggers a scarlet letter that never washes away.

  • Casey

    To be fair, youtube is going to catch shit no matter what they do. There’ll always be those sorts of people. They could literally cure cancer and aids and people would whine.

    Honestly, I’m not too riled up over this, but it is the sort of thing that could get out of hand if youtube goes too hands-off with it… and they’re well known for doing that.

  • Dan

    YouTube is appointing Brown Shirts now?

  • Dr.Weird

    They should not, moderation on an open source content video sharing site is meaningless outside of trying to make sure porn doesn’t creep in there.

  • Raiden Kaiser

    Wow this totally won’t backfire in the slightest and totally won’t be abused .-.

  • GeekVariety

    This isn’t a cry storm, its a very real possibility, one that people who create content and those who consume content should be aware of and concerned about. Guess you haven’t been paying attention over the last two years, because when you look at reddit and wiki you see gross misuses of power whereby community mods get into positions where they misuse their power and play not only favorites, but actively shutdown content from and about people they do not like or agree with. Youtube heroes amplifies that to an extreme we’ve never seen before, to the tune of millions of users with the potential to cripple channels hosting content they don’t like.

    I’m saying this sets a dangerous precedent, I’m not crying about nor is Mark crying about conspiracy, we’re talking about an idea that is fundamentally flawed that will without question be abused and how it will ultimately destroy a platform built upon the idea that everyone has a voice and can share their ideas freely.

  • Gaijin-

    I guess they chose the term ‘hero’ because it’s shorter than “Political Commissar”.

  • Its not right. Mass false flagging has been an issue since day one of YouTube and its something doesn’t seem to do anything about. This scheme encourages this behaviour.

  • BurntToShreds

    I’m calling this a cry-storm because I’ve seen it countless times before. YouTube changes something, people declare it The Worst Possible Thing™ and The End of YouTube™, but then a week later it turns out to actually be nothing. Right now it’s day 1 and every creator is giving everybody their “hot take” about the Death of YouTube© for the thousandth bloody time; they never learn. If on day 11 or so YouTube’s on fire because every Minecraft video and half of PewdiePie’s catalogue got taken down all at the same time then yeah, YouTube has a problem. Until then, I’m just gonna keep on watching what I watch.

  • ronin4life

    To be fair, they currently have no overt, obvious political bias, or none *yet*.

  • ronin4life

    The first bit is still really bad. They changed rules, failed to inform anyone properly, then called youtoubers stupid for not being more aware of the rule changes once a subsequent change that made these changes more appearant as a ‘defense’…

    That is Darth Vader levels of deal manipulation.

    And no, this doesn’t allow anyone *Direct* communication with anyone that wouldn’t already be directly communicating. It allows, and by its own setup actually *Encourages* ANONYMOUS mass flagging(Edit: you get points for flagging “troublesome” content, and points give you more power to flag more “troublesome” content). Transparency would also drop because, again, the masses would be anonymously mass flagging content for any number of discernible ‘reasons’/excuses, since those “New” rules from the first bit enable pretty much anything to be seen as unworthy of ad revenue.

    The result could easily be mass censorship for no obviously discernible reason for massive swaths of Youtube.

  • GeekVariety

    Well heres the thing, its not going to be something that happened immediately because its gonna take time to get people into positions where they can do the most damage. It will take time, but this will happen, I have no doubts there.

  • BurntToShreds

    Okay, so let’s say a person who’s been subtitling, helping people on forums, and flagging stuff like YouTube expects them to suddenly flags 200 videos at the same time, all by the same creator/group of creators the instant they have the ability to do so. You really think that the person at YouTube reviewing the thing is gonna go “Yeah, sure, that makes sense, this guy is acting totally logical here. Totally no malice.” Or “Wow, this person’s flagged over 50 videos about this political topic over the course of the last hour. Sure, that isn’t suspicious! Delete ’em all!”?

  • You think of Google as a service provider, when they are in fact a company, existing for the sole purpose of maximizing their profit margins. You are an idealist to think that they are not all about the numbers.

    Google is a company that is aligned with the United States government. Read: https://wikileaks.org/google-is-not-what-it-seems/

    Google is not a champion of free speech, but a servant of special interests. Social media services, which people have utilized as a means of spreading information about the corruption of governments, to circumvent media censorship, etc. are nothing more than profit-seeking companies. Because they seek profit, they will make friends of those who have money. They go to bed with them.

    Saudis bought twitter, and twitter is banning accounts of people that protest for increased women’s rights in Saudi-Arabia. Read: http://heatst.com/world/twitter-suspends-accounts-dedicated-to-saudi-womens-rights/

    This is the world we live in. Social media, youtube included, does not serve the social purposes people utilize them for. The companies that provide said services, are interested in nothing but money. And since oppressors tend to possess the resources over the 99% of us, they will buy or influence our means of protest.

    This is a market opening for competing social media services. Create something that is easy for people to use, that serves multiple purposes, but especially enables social protest. And fix your monetization model from the get-go, so you don’t get bought later on. Something as simple as creating a system that taxes affiliate marketing links and banners on site, would be a vast improvement to the advertising systems we currently see in social media. Allow and encourage content creators to assign for affiliate marketing programs outside of the service, the promoted offerings tailored for the interests of their segment. Tax them a portion of the profit they make.

  • jack chanman

    Or not really give a shit about what content is “appropriate” in the first place. As long as it isn’t illegal no one should give a fuck.

    But you seem like the type of person that get’s offended by seeing a nipple or hearing a man say fuck too many times so sure…

    Who the fuck cares about that shit? What exactly about that needs to be moderated in the first place?

  • Dariusz G. Jagielski

    That’s different, my friend. You see, Cuntent ShitD and DMCA are for the exclusive use of Hollywood. If they’d put ANY safeguards here, Larry Page would find himself in a quite similar position Kim Dotcom is currently. So they obviously can’t. Meanwhile, that whole “hero” program is based upon involvement of regular people with regular wallets. They can put all the safeguards they want, because “heroes” won’t be able to do a shit when safeguard goes off.

  • Oh yeah what could POSSIBLY go wrong with this? I expect any First World non-SJW views will get flagged as a matter of course.

  • GeekVariety

    What makes you think there’s someone at youtube that’s going to be monitoring these people? They already don’t have staff enough to, or want to pay people to monitor these sorts of things, which is why they are doing the heroes thing in the first place. They’ve to this point almost been completely hands off in regards to monitoring content unless something is incredibly egregious or blatant to the point it cant be ignored so why would they change things now and all the sudden start putting eyes and bodies on this problem? They’ve used algorithms and computer screening to handle this sort of thing til now and are instead going to be passing the buck along to community moderators with this program. Do you honestly think after all this time of being so hands off, they are suddenly going to get proactive and start keeping tabs on not only the content, but the people in the community who are now monitoring content? That would mean they would be doubling their work on something they already don’t want to do themselves .

  • BurntToShreds

    Well they finally took the time to 1.) Announce this program with a video and 2.) Lay out a bunch of support pages regarding the program. That’s already a lot better than they’ve done in the past and it leads me to believe that they’re stepping their game up for real this time.

  • R.J.

    Gotta give them credit: If memory serves, a decision that sure seemed political (and certainly against customer wishes) was reversed by Gaben himself.

  • The technological geniuses aren’t in charge of ideas like this. They’re just paid to implement whatever comes down from the committees and shit.

  • WeAreScrewed

    For the most part I agree, if you are focusing on the mid-level decision makers, but you have to remember that Page and Brin pretty much still run the place and they were the original uber-nerds that created that tech behemoth. If they thought this was a bad idea, they could shut it down if they wanted to.