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YouTube Safety

A guide to safety, privacy and blocking YouTube


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in life


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YouTube is the most popular video sharing website out there. Many of us use YouTube every single day, whether it's to watch music videos, learn something new, or vlog your heart out. YouTube can be a really powerful platform for connecting with like-minded people, but as always, it’s important to make sure you’re protecting yourself! So, let’s take a walkthrough of all of YouTube’s main privacy and safety features:

How do I change the privacy settings on a video?

When you’re posting your own videos on YouTube, you have a couple of different privacy options. By default, the video will be public, meaning it will be viewable and searchable to anyone on YouTube. However, you can change this easily to either private or unlisted. If a video is private, this means that only you and other YouTube users who you select can see the video. Managers of the Youtube channel can see the video as well. If a video is unlisted, it means anyone who has the link can view the video, but it will not turn up in YouTube's search results or suggested videos. Anyone can still embed a video when it is unlisted.

To change the privacy settings on a video you have uploaded using a laptop or desktop computer:

  • Click the profile icon in the top right hand corner of the screen.
  • Click "Creator Studio".
  • Click "Video Manager" in the menu on the left hand side.
  • Find the video you would like to change the privacy settings on.
  • Click the "Edit" button beside the video thumbnail.
  • In the Privacy settings drop-down menu and select either Public, Unlisted, or Private.
  • Click "Save changes".

Changing YouTube video privacy settings

To change the privacy settings on a video you have uploaded using your iOS or Android smartphone:

  • Open the YouTube app and tap the profile icon in the top-right corner.
  • Tap "My channel".
  • Tap the "Videos" tab.
  • Find the video you would like to change the privacy settings on.
  • Tap the 3 vertical dots ⋮ symbol located beside the video title, and then tap "Edit".
  • Tap the Privacy drop-down menu and select either Public, Unlisted, or Private.
  • Tap "Save" in the top-right corner.

Alternatively, you can change this setting before you upload a video by selecting Public, Unlisted, or Private on the Upload screen.

Changing YouTube upload settings at upload

Someone has posted personal information about you without your consent

If someone posts videos of you or information about you that you don’t want on YouTube, there are a couple of steps to take:

  • Get in touch with the person who uploaded it and ask them to remove it.
  • If they refuse to do so, or if you don’t feel comfortable contacting them, you can request its removal from YouTube. You can do that here.
  • If you feel you in physical danger, contact the Gardai.

General privacy tips

  • Be careful about posting personal information, such as where you live, where you go to school, or your phone number. Be careful not to give away this information in your video by accident.
  • Never ever share your password with anyone else!
  • Always ask permission before filming someone else and posting it online.

Reporting hate speech or harassment

YouTube takes hate speech pretty seriously. Hate speech is content that targets or attacks groups of people on the basis of their race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender. Similarly, harassment or bullying is totally unacceptable. If you come across any such content, you can report it to YouTube.

Flagging the video. You can do this by clicking on the "More" button under the video. Click the “Report” button in the drop-down menu and follow the instructions (see picture below).

File an abuse report. If the user is consistently posting hate speech or harassment, you can submit a more detailed report by visiting the reporting tool here.

Reporting a YouTube user

How to block someone

Blocking someone will prevent them from making comments on your videos or contacting you through private message. To do this:

  • Go to their YouTube channel by clicking on their username.
  • Go to the “About” tab, and click the flag icon.
  • Click Block User.

Blocking YouTube user

Enabling Restricted Mode

Restricted Mode is a YouTube feature that blocks certain content, such as violence or nudity. If you’d prefer not to see this kind of content, you can turn on Restricted Mode. To do this:

  • Scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page and click the "Restricted Mode" drop-down menu.
  • Select the On or Off option to enable or disable it.
  • Click Save.

If you want Restricted Mode to stay enabled for anyone using your computer, you must lock Restricted Mode.

  • Follow the first 2 steps above.
  • Click on “Lock Restricted Mode on this browser”.
  • Enter your password to lock restricted mode.

youtube restricted mode screenshot

Moderating comments

If you’re posting your own content to YouTube, you can select whether other users can leave comments on it. Also, as it’s your own content, you are able to delete or allow comments as you see fit if you do allow them.

Moderating comments for uploaded videos
To disallow comments on a video that you have uploaded:

  • Log onto YouTube on a laptop or desktop computer.
  • Click the profile icon in the top right hand corner of the screen.
  • Click "Creator Studio".
  • Click "Video Manager" in the menu on the left hand side. 
  • Find the video you’d like to change, and then click the Edit button.
  • Go to the "Advanced settings" Tab.
  • Untick the “Allow comments” checkbox.
  • Click "Save changes"

Disallow comments on a YouTube video

Deleting or reporting a comment
To take action on a comment, click the arrow in the upper right of the comment to see your options:

  • Remove. This will remove the comment from YouTube, as well as any replies to it.
  • Report spam or abuse. This will alert YouTube, who will take due action if the comment is spam or abusive.
  • Ban from channel. This will prevent the user from posting comments on your videos again. If you change your mind, you can allow them access again later.

Moderating comments for future uploads
You can also hold comments for approval on any new YouTube uploads. This means that when someone comments on your video, it will not be publicly visible until you have approved it. You can select this setting in your Community Settings:

  • Log onto YouTube on a laptop or desktop computer.
  • Click the profile icon in the top right hand corner of the screen.
  • Click "Creator Studio".
  • Click "Community"  in the menu on the left hand side and then click "Community Settings".
  • Scroll to the "Default Settings" section.
  • Here, you can change your comment settings as you wish.
  • Click "Save" at the top of the page.

To hold comments for approval on an existing upload, follow the steps above on moderating comments for uploaded videos.

Deleting videos

Sometimes you realise that a video that you uploaded might not be the best thing for future employers, family or college lecturers to find online. Or you simply want to take it down from the online world. Deleting a video is easy, but remember that once you post anything online, you have lost 100% control of it. Anyone may have downloaded it or made copies, so think before you upload!

To delete a video from your YouTube channel:

  • Log onto YouTube on a laptop or desktop computer.
  • Click the profile icon in the top right hand corner of the screen.
  • Click "Creator Studio".
  • Click "Video Manager" in the menu on the left hand side. 
  • Find the video or videos you’d like to delete, then click the tickbox beside them.
  • Click on the “Actions” dropdown menu at the top of the screen.
  • Click "Delete".
  • Click "Delete" again to confirm.

Deleting a YouTube video

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Published January 22nd, 2015
Last updated February 3rd, 2017
Tags youtube social media online safety
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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