YouTube Introduces Labels for ‘Realistic’ AI-Generated Content to Enhance Transparency

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YouTube is set to implement disclosure requirements for videos featuring content generated by artificial intelligence (AI) that could potentially mislead viewers. In an update to its policies announced on Tuesday, the Google-owned platform will mandate creators to include labels when uploading content that involves “manipulated or synthetic content that is realistic, including using AI tools.”

The move aims to address the growing concern of users being misled by synthetic content, especially as consumer-facing generative AI tools make it increasingly simple to create text, images, video, and audio that closely resembles authentic material.

The new labels will specifically apply to AI-generated or synthetic content that is deemed “realistic.” This includes videos that “realistically depict an event that never happened, or content showing someone saying or doing something they didn’t actually do,” according to a blog post by YouTube Vice Presidents of Product Management, Jennifer Flannery O’Connor, and Emily Moxley.

Experts in digital information integrity have raised concerns about the potential proliferation of convincing yet misleading content facilitated by the growth of generative AI tools, particularly in the context of upcoming elections in the United States and elsewhere in 2024.

YouTube joins other platforms in introducing measures to increase transparency around AI-generated content. Earlier this year, TikTok introduced a label for AI-generated content, requiring users to disclose when content depicting “realistic scenes” is created or edited with AI. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, also announced that political advertisers must disclose any use of AI in their ads.

This disclosure policy follows YouTube’s introduction of AI-powered tools in September to assist creators in producing videos and expanding their audience on the platform. The spokesperson for YouTube confirmed that the option to attach an AI-generated disclosure label will be integrated into the video upload process and will begin rolling out early next year. The labels are expected to appear in videos’ description panels, with certain exceptions for “sensitive topics” where they may be more prominently displayed within the video player.

YouTube emphasizes accountability for users who fail to comply with the new requirements. Creators consistently neglecting the new label on synthetic content may face penalties, including content removal or suspension from YouTube’s Partner Program. The platform also clarified that synthetic or AI-generated content violating community guidelines will be subject to similar restrictions or removal as other videos.

As part of the announcement, YouTube also revealed that it will now permit individuals to request the removal of AI-generated or manipulated content simulating an identifiable individual, including their face or voice, under its privacy request process. The decision to comply with removal requests will consider various factors, such as whether the content is satirical or features a public figure.

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