Spam, deceptive practices, & scams policies

The safety of our creators, viewers, and partners is our highest priority. We look to each of you to help us protect this unique and vibrant community. It’s important you understand our Community Guidelines, and the role they play in our shared responsibility to keep YouTube safe. Take the time to carefully read the policy below. You can also check out this page for a full list of our guidelines.
On December 9, we started applying our Presidential Election Integrity policy (below) to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election, meaning we remove content that misleads people by alleging that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the 2020 U.S. Presidential election uploaded on or after December 9. We have begun issuing strikes for new content that violates the policy uploaded on or after January 7, 2021.

YouTube doesn’t allow spam, scams, or other deceptive practices that take advantage of the YouTube community. We also don’t allow content where the main purpose is to trick others into leaving YouTube for another site.

If you find content that violates this policy, report it. Instructions for reporting violations of our Community Guidelines are available here. If you've found a few videos or comments that you would like to report, you can report the channel.

What these policies mean for you

If you're posting content

Don’t post content on YouTube if it fits any of the descriptions noted below.

  • Presidential Election Integrity: Content that advances false claims that widespread fraud, errors, or issues changed the outcome of any past U.S. presidential election (Note: this applies to elections in the United States only). For the U.S. 2020 presidential election, this applies to content uploaded on or after December 9, 2020.
  • Video Spam: Content that is excessively posted, repetitive, or untargeted and does one or more of the following:
    • Promises viewers they'll see something but instead directs them off site.
    • Gets clicks, views, or traffic off YouTube by promising viewers that they’ll make money fast.
    • Sends audiences to sites that spread harmful software, try to gather personal info, or other sites that have a negative impact.
  • Misleading Metadata or Thumbnails: Using the title, thumbnails, description, or tags to trick users into believing the content is something it is not.
  • Manipulated Media: Content that has been technically manipulated or doctored in a way to misleads users. This type of manipulated media goes beyond clips taken out of context and may pose a serious risk of egregious harm.
  • Scams: Content offering cash gifts, “get rich quick” schemes, or pyramid schemes (sending money without a tangible product in a pyramid structure).
  • Voter Suppression: Content aiming to mislead voters about the time, place, means, or eligibility requirements for voting, or false claims that could materially discourage voting.
  • Suppression of Census Participation: Content aiming to mislead participants about the time, means or eligibility requirements for participating in a census. 

  • Candidate Eligibility: Content that advances false claims related to the technical eligibility requirements for current political candidates and sitting elected government officials to serve in office. Eligibility requirements considered are based on applicable national law, and include age, citizenship, or vital status.
  • Incitement to interfere with democratic processes: Content encouraging others to interfere with democratic processes. For example, obstructing or interrupting voting procedures.
  • Distribution of hacked materials: content that contains hacked info, the disclosure of which may interfere with democratic processes, such as elections and censuses.
  • Incentivization Spam: Content that sells engagement metrics such as views, likes, comments, or any other metric on YouTube. This type of spam can also includes content where the only purpose is to boost subscribers, views, or other metrics. For example, offering to subscribe to another creator’s channel solely in exchange for them subscribing to your channel, also known as "Sub4Sub" content.
  • Comments Spam: Comments where the sole purpose is to gather personal info from viewers, misleadingly drive viewers off YouTube, or perform any of the prohibited behaviors noted above.
  • Repetitive comments: Leaving large amounts of identical, untargeted or repetitive comments.
  • Live Stream Abuse: Live streams intended to stream content that belongs to somebody else and are not corrected after repeated warnings of possible abuse. Channel owners should actively monitor their live streams and correct any potential issues in a timely manner.

This policy applies to videos, video descriptions, comments, live streams, and any other YouTube product or feature. Keep in mind that this isn't a complete list.

Note: You're allowed to encourage viewers to subscribe, hit the like button, share, or leave a comment.

Examples

Here are some examples of content that’s not allowed on YouTube.

  • Telling viewers they can vote through fake methods like texting their vote to a particular number.
  • Giving made up voter eligibility requirements like saying that a particular election is only open to voters over 50 years old.
  • Deliberately telling viewers an incorrect election date.

More examples

Presidential Election Integrity 

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Claims that a candidate only won a swing state in the U.S. 2020 presidential election due to voting machine issues that changed votes.
  • Claims that dead people voted in numbers that changed the outcome of the U.S. 2016 presidential election.
  • Claims that fake ballots were dumped to give one candidate enough votes to win a state in a past U.S. presidential election.

We may allow content such as the examples above if it includes countervailing views or sufficient context in the images or audio of the video itself. Providing the context in the title or description may be insufficient.

Video Spam

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.

  • Content that promises viewers they'll watch something but instead directs them off site to view.
  • Posting the same content repeatedly across one or more channels.
  • Massively uploading content that you scraped from other creators.
  • Trying to get viewers to install harmful software, or directing them to sites that might compromise their privacy.
  • Autogenerated content that computers post without regard for quality or viewer experience.
  • Promising money, products, software, or gaming perks for free if viewers install software, download an app, or perform other tasks.
  • Massively posting affiliate content in dedicated accounts.

Misleading metadata or thumbnails

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Placing excessive tags in the video description (“tag stuffing”) rather than placing them as tags upon upload.
  • A thumbnail with a picture of a popular celebrity that has nothing to do with the content.
  • Using the title, thumbnails, description, or tags to trick users into believing the content is something it is not. For example, when there's a serious risk of egregious real world harm.

Manipulated Media

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Inaccurately translated video subtitles that inflame geopolitical tensions creating serious risk of egregious harm.
  • Videos that have been technically manipulated (beyond clips taken out of context) to make it appear that a government official is dead.
  • Video content that has been technically manipulated (beyond clips taken out of context) to fabricate events where there's a serious risk of egregious harm.
  • Misattributing a 10 year old video that depicts stuffing of a ballot box to a new election.

Voter Suppression and Suppression of Census Participation

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Telling viewers they can vote through inaccurate methods like texting their vote to a particular number.
  • Giving made up voter eligibility requirements like saying that a particular election is only open to voters over 50 years old.
  • Telling viewers an incorrect voting date.
  • Giving incorrect instructions on how to participate in the census.
  • Claiming that a voter’s  political party affiliation is visible on a vote-by-mail envelope.
  • False claims that non-citizen voting has figured out the outcome of past elections.

Candidate Eligibility

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Claims that a candidate/sitting government official is not eligible to hold office based on false info about the age required to hold office in that country/region.
  • Claims that a candidate/sitting government official is not eligible to hold office based on false info about citizenship status requirements to hold office in that country/region.
  • Claims that a candidate/sitting government official is ineligible for office based on false claims that they’re deceased, not old enough or otherwise do not meet eligibility requirements.

Incitement to interfere in democratic processes

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.

  • Telling viewers to create long voting lines with the purpose of making it harder for others to vote.
  • Telling viewers to hack government websites to delay the release of elections results.

Distribution of hacked materials

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.

  • Videos that contain hacked info about a political candidate shared with the intent to interfere in an election.

Scams

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Making exaggerated promises, such as claims that viewers can get rich fast or that a miracle treatment can cure chronic illnesses such as cancer.
  • Promoting cash gifting or other pyramid schemes.
  • Accounts dedicated to cash gifting schemes.
  • Videos that promise "You'll make $50,000 tomorrow with this plan!"

Incentivization Spam

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Videos where the purpose is to encourage viewers to subscribe.
  • "Subs 4 Subs" videos.
  • Videos that offer "likes" for sale.
  • A video that offers to give the channel to the 100,000th subscriber without any other content.

Comments Spam

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Comments about surveys or giveaways that promote pyramid schemes.
  • "Pay Per Click" referral links in comments.
  • Comments that falsely claim to offer full video content. This type of content could be:
    • Movies
    • TV shows
    • Concerts
  • Posting links to harmful software or phishing site in comments: "omg just got tons of  B∪cks from here! - [xyz phishing site].com"
  • Comments with links to counterfeit stores.
  • "Hey, check out my channel/video here!” when the channel/video has nothing to do with the video it was posted in.
  • Posting the same comment repeatedly with a link to your channel.

Live Stream Abuse

The following types of content are not allowed on YouTube. Keep in mind this list isn't a complete list.
  • Using your phone to stream a television show.
  • Using 3rd party software to livestream songs from an album.

Remember these are just some examples, and don't post content if you think it might violate this policy.

What happens if content violates this policy

If your content violates this policy, we’ll remove the content and send you an email to let you know. If this is your first time violating our Community Guidelines, you’ll get a warning with no penalty to your channel. If it’s not, we’ll issue a strike against your channel. If you get 3 strikes, your channel will be terminated. You can learn more about our strikes system here.

We may terminate your channel or account for repeated violations of the Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. We may also terminate your channel or account after a single case of severe abuse, or when the channel is dedicated to a policy violation. You can learn more about channel or account terminations here.

  Visit the Creator Academy for more

Would you rather learn about this policy through videos and quizzes? Check out our Creator Academy course.

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