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YouTube Mistakenly Bans Robot Battles Citing Animal Cruelty

Dominique Adams



YouTube mistakenly removed a number of videos of robots fighting citing its policies against footage containing “deliberate infliction of animal suffering”. 

Video sharing platform YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, has admitted it removed videos of robot battles in error, and has subsequently made the videos available again.

The take-down was first spotted by YouTube channel Maker’s Muse and, according to Motherboard, a number of channels belonging to BattleBots contenders, including Sarah Pohorecky of Team Uppercut, were affected by the purge.

Speaking to Motherboard Pohorecky said she estimated that 10 to 15 robot builders had been affected, with some having multiple videos taken down.

There appears to be no pattern to explain why certain videos were removed, the only common theme Pohorecky observed was that some titles and robots were named after animals.


“Some had a number of videos removed, while others only had one or two out of many robot videos on their channels [removed],” she said.

Jamison Go, of Team SawBlaze (who had nine videos taken down), was sent a notice by YouTube saying his video MassDestruction 9: Speed Wedge 1 vs Ubersaw violated its guideline because it contained prohibited content such as “dog fighting and cockfighting”. The video has since been restored to his channel.

A YouTube spokesperson told Motherboard: “With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call. 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.”

The incident has raised questions over the company’s internal take-down process and it is unclear if the videos were removed by algorithms or a human reviewer.

The company has recently come under fire for its refusal, or slowness, to remove disturbing content such as violent videos or hate speech. There has also been evidence to suggest the site pushes its users towards radicalised content.

The company is facing calls for it to significantly improve its moderation efforts and has been accused of relying too heavily on automated video removals.

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Dominique Adams

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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