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What YouTube's new approach to comments could mean for streamers

Since the beginning days of the world wide web, creators have had to contest with negative comments and outright harassment from their viewers. Battling trolls is a constant struggle, and many platforms have tried to fight back against the haters by enforcing strict rules. However, as the old saying goes, rules are meant to be broken, and those who are determined to make creators' lives miserable will still find a way, no matter what efforts moderators put into action.

Streamers have received the brunt of these attacks for years, and many have suffered mental health issues because of it. A report from Dot Esports in July described Alinity's tearful breakdown during a Twitch stream, wherein she revealed having thoughts of suicide due to harassment and hurtful comments from viewers. Streamer Bloody had to leave an Among Us game on a Twitch livestream due to transphobic comments, which was severely condemned by streamer Trainwrecks who threatened to perma-ban whoever was the source of the harassment.

In an attempt to put a stop to hate speech in its comments section, YouTube announced an update which it hopes will make some users think twice before posting their negative comments. The update includes a pop-up which will ask the commenter to reconsider posting offensive content — although they will not be completely censored, and will be given the option to post anyway. YouTube will also be testing a filter system which will hold negative comments for review before they are posted, giving the creators the opportunity to choose whether to read the comment or not.

YouTube intends to offer a survey which will ask streamers for information regarding their gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. The goal is to look for patterns of harassment within certain communities on the platform and hopefully put a stop to it. The survey is entirely optional, and creators can choose to opt out or have the information deleted whenever they wish.

"The steps we're announcing today are part of our ongoing work to ensure that YouTube continues to be a platform where creators of all backgrounds can thrive," wrote Johanna Wright, YouTube's VP of Product Management. "We appreciate the partnership of the Black, LGBTQ+ and Latinx creator communities who have consulted with us in these efforts."

Only time will tell whether this update will improve the streaming experience for creators on the platform, but at least YouTube has a strategy in place for this ongoing issue.

If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline​ at​ 1-800-273-TALK (8255)​.