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The internet allows communication and entertainment to flourish in ways previously unheard of before modern technology. We now have access to social media and entertainment websites that have vastly improved both industries. Unfortunately, both types of websites have become double-edged swords since they can be used as platforms for sociopolitical commentary and criticism that can adversely impact the public image of content creators.

While social media is one of the largest culprits of this issue, there is an equally troubling pattern of entertainment-based reputational damage. Common entertainment websites where freelance content creators can shine have enabled a platform where the opinions of these content creators and any undesirable footage of another person or business to be posted with little issue.

Perhaps the most well-known of these entertainment websites is YouTube. Since its inception, YouTube has been hosting videos and footage not commonly consumed by the average person. While more and more people have come to embrace YouTube for entertainment and as a platform, the subjects of these videos are exposed to a previously unknown audience.

The problem is that an unknown audience is sometimes an unwanted one. It has become more common than ever for videos hosted on YouTube to present a threat to your reputation, making it a greater threat the longer it remains on the domain. This has made learning how to get a harmful video taken down crucial to the survival of anyone’s reputation.

What is YouTube?

While YouTube is far from a small or lesser-known website, some people might not be familiar with the website. At the very least, the website’s history is not common knowledge to most of its users. YouTube was created in 2005 by a trio of PayPal employees named Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. Hurley, Chen, and Karim were among the first PayPal employees and received a substantial payout when eBay purchased PayPal. The 3 friends had initially conceived of what would become YouTube after the infamous Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show.

The halftime show in question involved a controversy where famed singer Justin Timberlake exposed his colleague, Janet Jackson’s breast. The trio struggled to find videos of the incident for later viewing and eventually came up with the idea of a video-sharing site that would eventually become YouTube. After a failed attempt to launch YouTube as a video dating site, the mission statement changed to allow videos of any kind to be uploaded and transition into an entertainment site.

The Youtube Homepage

In February 2005, YouTube’s domain went live, and in April of that same year, the very first video, Me at the zoo, was uploaded. The video is a 19-second clip of Karim at the San Diego Zoo, but that video was the beginning of a new chapter in the entertainment world. Over the last 17 years, YouTube has grown to have over 2,500,000,000 users worldwide and was purchased by Google.

While Karim and Chen are no longer involved with the website and Hurley serves as an advisor to the current CEO, the website has flourished despite a few controversies. Now, YouTube has billions of content creators making original content.

The issue is that some content harms the footage’s people or companies. This sort of reputational damage can be devastating in some circumstances and necessitates removal to protect the subject.

Removing Your Own Video

A shockingly common issue with certain media is that the victim of the reputational damage was the one who uploaded the video. There have been plenty of instances where a user posted content viewed as offensive or harmful. When this happens, it can lead to a series of protests aimed at the user who uploaded the video that can negatively affect their social life or business. In situations where the victim of the reputational damage was the one who uploaded the video, knowing how to take your videos down is essential.

Removing your own YouTube videos is one of the easiest methods for removing a video from the domain. This ease results from only needing your approval to remove the video rather than going through a 3rd party.

Deleting a Youtube Video

The removal process of a YouTube video you uploaded is simple and can be accomplished in a few steps:

  1. The first step is to log onto your YouTube account to access your settings and profile.
  2. From your profile, open the YouTube Studio from the left menu tab and click on the Content tab.
  3. Once in the Content section, a list of your current videos will populate, and you can locate the one you want to delete.
  4. Once you have located the video you plan on deleting, click the 3 vertical dots to open the options menu for that video and click “Delete forever.”
  5. Once you have clicked the “Delete forever” option, YouTube will ask you to check a box to confirm your intent to delete the video permanently. Check the box and click the new button that says, “DELETE FOREVER.”

Following these steps will allow you to delete videos harming your reputation. Keep in mind that any videos you delete cannot be recovered via YouTube’s domain and the only way to recover them is to keep a backup on your computer. While you likely will not want to recover the video if it harms your reputation, you have your reasons for wanting to get it back.

Unfortunately, this marks the end of the easy part of protecting your reputation from harmful YouTube videos. Removing your own videos is no challenge since you retain complete control over the content you upload. The real trouble begins when you need someone else’s content taken down due to the issues it is causing.

Having Another User’s Content Taken Down

With billions of content creators and profiles active on YouTube, someone else is liable to post content about you if you are a major online presence. Content concerning you or your business can either be beneficial or harmful depending on who is uploading it and the video’s context. When the video is harmful to your reputation, having the videos taken down is extremely important to ensure the damage does not last. When it comes to taking down someone else’s content, there is a good news/bad news situation.

YouTube does have options for having content removed from its platform when it causes problems for other users. Unfortunately, the method is imperfect and unreliable due to certain limitations in preventing system misuse. When trying to remove someone else’s content, the steps are as follows:

1. Open the video you are trying to get taken down. It is opened in the same manner as you would any video if you were trying to watch the video.

2. Once the video is opened, look for the options menu. This menu is signified by a row of 3 horizontal dots located next to the “SAVE” button below the player window.

3. Once the options menu is open, you should see an icon that resembles a flag that says “Report” next to it. Click this button to begin the process.

Reporting a Youtube Video

4. A new menu should pop up that offers the following options:

  • Sexual content
  • Violent or repulsive content
  • Hateful or abusive content
  • Harassment or bullying
  • Harmful or dangerous acts
  • Misinformation
  • Child abuse
  • Promotes Terrorism
  • Spam or misleading
  • Infringes my rights
  • Captions issue
  • None of these are my issue

5. You will need to select one of these options. You will want to select the “Infringes my rights” option if the issue is reputational damage. Once selected, another dropdown menu will appear that has the options:

  • Copyright issue
  • Privacy issue
  • Trademark infringement
  • Defamation
  • Counterfeit
  • Other legal issue

6. Depending on what sort of reputational damage is being done, you will likely choose between “Privacy issue” or “Defamation.” Once you have selected an option, you will need to click the “NEXT” button at the base of the form.

While these steps are fairly straightforward, there is a major issue with YouTube’s system that can impact the efficiency of the report. Depending on the nature of the video, the content might be private, which YouTube is obligated to act upon. Your right to privacy supersedes all other issues, but this measure does not protect public conduct. More often than not, a request to take a video down over reputational damage will be a defamation issue.

YouTube is not equipped to distinguish defamation or make judgments of that nature. Usually, defamation claims need to be addressed with legal counsel, and reputational damage is generally under the auspices of defamation. This means YouTube’s integrated system is not nearly as effective as it claims to be. Fortunately, this does not necessarily mean you have to seek legal counsel. If YouTube’s automated system cannot remove the video causing the problem, the user who posted it still can.

Contact the Uploader Directly

If YouTube’s automated system fails to yield the results and you need to take down the video, contacting the uploader might be the next best choice. Like how you retain full control over your uploaded content, the one who uploaded the video damaging your reputation retains control over theirs. This means the user who uploaded it could easily remove it if they are so inclined. Unfortunately, not every user is fully aware of the damage their video is causing and will need to be informed before they consider taking it down. Fortunately, this is something you are capable of accomplishing.

Like most Google applications, YouTube allows you to comment on the video or even direct message the uploader to request the video’s removal. Contacting the uploader and explaining the situation might cause them to respect your wishes and remove the video once prompted. Many YouTube creators are open to reason and prefer to avoid conflict by taking the video down. Unfortunately, this process is no more perfect than YouTube’s automated system.

Contacting a Youtube Video Uploader

The uploader has no obligation to take the video down unless ordered by a court of law. Your request is not one they will have to honor if they decide the video is too valuable to their channel’s success. If the uploader refuses to pull the video from circulation, the only remaining option is to pursue legal action. While this is not an ideal scenario, YouTube must respect the rights of all users and not show preferential treatment.

Take Your Reputation Back!

Protecting your public image is no easy task, especially in a society that has turned airing other people’s dirty laundry into a pastime. The videos posted on YouTube are often innocuous, and most content that violates privacy rights is taken down easily.

Unfortunately, most reputational damage is caused by comments or activities that are public record. This means you are essentially at the mercy of the uploader to have the video taken down, as they retain the rights to upload whatever content they please so long as it is not copyright infringement. While it might be tempting to file the request under another category to optimize the odds of a successful takedown, honesty remains the best policy.

Attempting a false copyright strike or falsifying the nature of your request only reinforces the damage to your reputation. It also might lead to YouTube sanctioning your account for misusing its reporting system.

Positive Reputation on Youtube

Keeping your reputation protected is an immense task that is not easily accomplished. Some companies have devoted entire branches to the goal of reputation management. If you are operating as a small business or are an individual content creator, keeping abreast of all the factors impacting your reputation could be even more challenging.

Without an effective team, your reputation will likely experience damage before you are aware of the problem content. Fortunately, we at Reputation are here to help. Our company specializes in reputation management and marketing and will scour the internet for any traces of content or posts that might adversely affect your public image. If you need a new pair of eyes on your reputation, visit our website and take your reputation back!

Do you have any questions about how to get a YouTube video taken down or anything else related to your online reputation? If so, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us, and we’ll help you out however we can!

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    Matt Earle

    Founder & President

    Matt Earle, Founder of Reputation.ca, is a leading Canadian expert on online reputation management with over 15 years of hands on experience working in the space. Mr. Earle’s educational background includes an H.BSc from the University of Toronto and certification as a Google Professional. His expertise has been acknowledged through national television appearances on CBC, PBS and CTV, being a guest host on CBC radio, and numerous quotes in print and online media.