Thumbnails policy

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.

Thumbnails and other images that violate our Community Guidelines aren’t allowed on YouTube. Images include banners, avatars, Community posts, and any other YouTube feature that has images.

If you find thumbnails or other images that violate this policy, report them. If you find a few videos or comments that you want to report, you can report the channel.

What this policy means for you

Don’t post a thumbnail or other image on YouTube if it shows:

  • Pornographic imagery
  • Sexual acts, the use of sex toys, fetishes, or other sexually gratifying imagery
  • Nudity, including genitals
  • Imagery that depicts unwanted sexualization
  • Violent imagery that intends to shock or disgust
  • Graphic or disturbing imagery with blood or gore
  • Vulgar or lewd language
  • A thumbnail that misleads viewers to think they’re about to view something that’s not in the video

Note: The above list isn’t complete.

Age-restricted thumbnails and thumbnail removal

Sometimes, a thumbnail may not be appropriate for all audiences, but it doesn’t violate our Community Guidelines. When that happens, we may age-restrict the video, or we may remove the thumbnail, but we don’t issue a strike on your channel. If we remove a thumbnail, we let you know, and you can upload another thumbnail.

Here’s what we consider when we remove or age-restrict these kinds of thumbnails:

  • Whether breasts, buttocks, or genitals are the focal point of the thumbnail
  • Whether the subject is depicted in a pose or clothing that is intended to sexually arouse the viewer
  • Whether violent or gory imagery is the focal point of the thumbnail
  • Whether written text is intended to be vulgar or shock or disgust viewers
  • Whether the title, description, tags, or other data indicate an intent to shock or disgust viewers

What happens when thumbnails violate our policies

If your thumbnail contains pornography, we may terminate your channel. If your thumbnail violates other policies, we remove the thumbnail and may issue a strike against your account. If it's the first time you’ve posted content that violates our Community Guidelines, you get a warning with no penalty to your channel. You can take a policy training to allow the warning to expire after 90 days. However, if one of your thumbnails violate the same policy within that 90 day window, the warning will not expire and your channel will be given a strike. If you violate a different policy after completing the training, you will get another warning.

If you get three strikes in 90 days or your channel is dedicated to violative content, your channel will be terminated. Learn more about our strikes system.

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. We may prevent repeat offenders from taking policy trainings in the future. Learn more about channel or account terminations.

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