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YouTube is cracking down on tricks that spammers use to impersonate creators

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The latest attempt to tackle YouTube’s rampant spam problem

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

YouTube has been having a tough time with spammers lately. Earlier this year, a bunch of big creators like MKBHD and Jacksepticeye made videos highlighting the seemingly endless hordes of bad actors swarming their channels who reply to other commenters with fake giveaways and other scams. YouTube has been responding to these complaints and, today, announced a few new changes to try and stem the tide.

There are three new policies. First, channels will no longer be able to hide their subscriber count — a move often used by spammers to help camouflage themselves. This is because checking a channel’s subscriber count is a quick way to verify that they are who they say they are (aka Big Name Content Creator X).

Second, YouTube is limiting the type and frequency of special characters that can be used in channel names. This is another common spammer tactic, sometimes used in coordination with hidden subscriber counts. Essentially, spammers are trying to make channels look legitimate by using special characters to form familiar names. For example, calling your channel “¥ouⓉube” in an attempt to mimic the official YouTube account. Reducing the frequency of special characters reduces the options they have to do so.

Third, YouTube is expanding access to an enhanced comment moderation setting it began testing earlier this year. The company now says all creators can toggle the “increase strictness” setting in the “held for review” tab in the platform’s moderation tools. YouTube says this will cut down on the number of spam / scam comments, though, with stricter filters, there’s always a risk that there’ll be an increase in false positives, too.

It’s a small number of relatively small changes, but it’s good that YouTube is still working to improve this issue.