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 that violate our Community Guidelines are not allowed on YouTube.

If you see thumbnails that violate this policy, report them. 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 this means for you

Don’t post a thumbnail on YouTube that fits any of the descriptions noted below.

  • Thumbnails that include pornographic images depicting sexual acts, nudity, or other sexually gratifying imagery 
  • Violent imagery intended to shock or disgust
  • Graphic or disturbing imagery with blood or gore
  • Thumbnails with vulgar or lewd language
  • Thumbnails misleading viewers into thinking they’re about to view something that’s not in the video

Note this is not a complete list.

Thumbnails that don’t violate our policies, but aren’t appropriate for all audiences

Sometimes, a thumbnail may not be appropriate for all audiences, but doesn’t violate our Community Guidelines. When that happens, we may place an age-restriction on the video or we may remove the thumbnail, but we won’t issue a strike on your channel. We’ll let you know we removed it and you’ll be able to upload another thumbnail.

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

  • Whether breasts, buttocks or genitals (clothed or unclothed) 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’ll age-restrict your video or remove the thumbnail and may issue a strike against your account. If this is the first time you’ve posted content that violates 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. Your channel will be terminated if you get 3 strikes. 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.

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