Custom thumbnails policy

The safety of our creators, viewers, and partners is our highest priority – and 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. Please take the time to carefully read the policy below. You can also check out this page for a full list of our guidelines.

Custom thumbnails that violate our Community Guidelines are not allowed on YouTube.

If you see thumbnails that violate this policy, please report them. Instructions for reporting violations of our Community Guidelines are available here. If you've found multiple 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, genitals, or fetishes for the purpose of sexual gratification
  • Violent imagery intended to shock or disgust
  • Thumbnails misleading viewers into thinking they’re about to view something that’s not in the video

Please note this is not a complete list.

Thumbnails that 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’ll 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 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 the title, description, tags, or other data indicate an intent to shock or disgust viewers

What happens when content violates this policy

If your custom thumbnail contains pornography, we may terminate your channel. If your thumbnail violates other policies, we’ll 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 receive 3 strikes. You can learn more about our strikes system here.

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