YouTube has recently announced the launch of its Priority Flagger Programme in Singapore, enlisting the help of social service organizations to flag harmful videos on the platform. This move comes in response to increasing concerns about inappropriate and harmful content, particularly those that could harm young users. The four social enterprises selected to participate in the programme are Limitless, Samaritans of Singapore, SG Her Empowerment (SHE), and Touch Community Services.

The YouTube Priority Flagger Programme aims to prioritize the review of content flagged by these community partners. Google, which runs YouTube, will provide training to these volunteers to ensure efficient reporting of online harms in accordance with the platform’s guidelines. The selection of these organizations was based on their expertise in identifying content related to child safety, cyberbullying, harassment, self-harm, and suicide.

According to Ajay Vidyasagar, Regional director for YouTube, the content flagged by these groups will be given priority for review by Google, indicating the importance placed on their reports. Between January and March, Google removed over 35,000 videos in Singapore alone for violating guidelines, with a staggering 6.4 million videos taken down worldwide during the same period.

It is important to note that content flagged by priority flaggers does not automatically result in removal. These reports are subjected to the same treatment as any other video flagged by the public. However, due to the high degree of accuracy exhibited by priority flaggers, YouTube’s teams prioritize their reports for review.

In addition to the Priority Flagger Programme, Google has also introduced a similar community flagging initiative for reporting potential phishing sites and malware hosted on its network. The Singapore Police Force is among the first organizations to participate as priority flaggers. By engaging these expert partners, Google aims to effectively address issues such as scams and child abuse, while also localizing its approach based on the countries in which it operates.

It is worth mentioning that YouTube’s efforts to combat harmful content are not solely reliant on community flaggers. The platform also harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and employs a team of content moderators to monitor and remove inappropriate videos. However, the significance of priority flaggers lies in their expertise in specific areas, contributing to a more localized and tailored approach in addressing online harms.

Samaritans of Singapore, one of the participating organizations, has committed to monitoring and reporting harmful content as part of their role. The organization’s chief executive, Gasper Tan, revealed that their pool of 400 volunteers can also notify them of problematic videos they come across. Graphic or explicit depictions are among the common flagged videos, often causing distress or triggering vulnerable individuals. Tan expressed his organization’s eagerness to be part of the initiative, recognizing the need for collective efforts to combat harmful online content.

YouTube’s collaboration with social service organizations in Singapore is a positive step toward making the platform safer for its users, particularly vulnerable individuals. By leveraging the knowledge and expertise of these community partners, YouTube aims to proactively address harmful content and protect its users from potential harm. As the Priority Flagger Programme continues to evolve, it is hoped that more organizations will join the network, further strengthening the fight against online harms.

Source: [The Straits Times](

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