Upsetting fans of “Bottlebots” and the like, YouTube was recently caught removing content depicting fighting robots over claims that the videos violated the company’s policies against displays of animal cruelty.
The takedown of hundreds of videos came to light on Monday after YouTube channel Maker’s Muse reported on several dozen YouTubers who shared notifications they received from the video-sharing website on their respective social media pages.
Sarah Pohorecky, a member of Team Uppercut on the latest season of “Battlebots,” took to Facebook to post her letter from YouTube. Shocked, Pohorecky captioned the letter by writing, “Has this happened to anyone else? … YouTube’s finally standing up to cruelty against robots.”
The notice likened Pohorecky’s robot bashing video to dog fighting and cock fighting. “We know that this might be disappointing, but it’s important to us that YouTube is a safe place for all,” it reads.
Jamison Go, from “Battlebots’” Team Sawblaze, was one of many individuals affected by the takedown, and he shared his own notification online.
“Today is a sad day,” he wrote. “Robot builders across the world cried out in agony as YouTube’s algorithm falsely identified personal videos of robot sport as ‘animal cruelty’ and ‘cock fighting.’ Today I lost nine videos, but others lost hundreds or more.”
YouTube’s current policy states that “content where there is infliction of unnecessary suffering or harm deliberately causing an animal distress” and “content where animals are encouraged or coerced to fight by humans” are prohibited. It does not make any mention of robot fighting videos.
In the days since the takedown, some deleted videos have re-emerged on the site. A YouTube spokesperson recently revealed that their removal was an error. (Shocker)
“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call,” a YouTube official told Motherboard. “When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it. We also offer uploaders the ability to appeal removals and we will re-review the content.”
However, that process appeared to make matters even more difficult for robot enthusiasts, since filing an appeal resembled a day at the local department of motor vehicles. Pohorecky told Motherboard that she was forced to navigate through several screens before even coming close to being able to file an appeal.
She further told Futurism that the whole process was “a headache,” and that “there’s always the risk that the appeal will be rejected and the video lost or the channel deleted.”