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Top 7 YouTube Rules & Community Guidelines

Updated on September 14, 2019
Chriswillman90 profile image

Krzysztof is a YouTube researcher with over a decade of experience analyzing and uncovering YouTube trends, challenges, and media.


The 7 Deadly Sins of YouTube

If you ever decide to start a YouTube channel, then how you obey their seven community guidelines will determine success or failure.

So what are these magical rules of YouTube?

YouTube Community Guidelines

There job is to protect you and other creators, but what do they mean and how should you follow them...

Let's take a look at the 7 deadly sins of YouTube and find out.


Rule #1: No Nudity or Sexual Content

If there's any risk that your video/s may contain nudity or other graphic imagery, then I would edit that out.

There are only a few exceptions to that rule, and they include the following:

  • Primary purpose is educational or scientific
  • Done in an artistic but not overly gratuitous manner
  • Documentary purposes
  • Short snippets (few seconds long)

One thing people don't realize is that there's a lot of nude content on YouTube, but it's usually age-restricted (18+). Still it exists because it serves an educational or scientific purpose though that's a slippery slope too.

There have been numerous conflicting issues about this policy where suggestive content that's not actually nudity have been flagged and age-restricted.

It can take a while before your inappropriate video gets flagged or is taken down, so I'd recommend you avoid the risk of getting banned by getting rid of it.


Rule #2: Harmful or Dangerous Content

This rule is primarily directed towards creators who make videos that may persuade others to be violent or hateful.

There's a similar hate rule, but this one is geared towards physical situations. Some examples listed under YouTube's guidelines include:

  • Dangerous instructional videos (bomb making)
  • Substance abuse videos
  • Acts of serious injury

Again as with the nudity rule, there are exceptions based on the context of your videos. I see a lot of prank channels get away with this rule where the prank is violently suggestive or more.

I notice YouTube's moderators give more leeway to larger channels or bigger audiences, but they're quick to pull the trigger on newbie creators.

If your videos are too vague in their message and they may promote violence, then I would not upload them.


Rule #3: Violent or Graphic Content

This is another vague rule but the main idea is to not upload something too graphic and/or gratuitous that's meant to shock people.

There are a lot of exceptions with this here such as:

  • Post additional information if video is violent
  • Context is important
  • News or Journalism purposes
  • Educational

YouTube doesn't specify what counts as over-the-top violence, but they do make it clear that anything promoting terrorism is definitely not allowed.

This makes it a tricky rule to follow because I do see a lot of violent content on YouTube whether it be clips from movies/TV shows or dramatized interpretations.

I don't see a lot of age restrictions get thrown out for violent content compared with nudity, so YouTube seems more forgiving on this subject.

That doesn't mean you can freely post brutal videos because you'll risk getting shut down. If you're a new youtuber, then I'd stay away from violent content for a while.

Rule #4: Respect Copyright

The copyright rule is the most widespread on YouTube, and there have been many creators who have gotten in trouble (some falsely) due to copyright.

This rule states that your videos should not include content such as:

  • Other user's music tracks
  • Snippets of copyright videos/movies by other users
  • Videos you didn't make

You should also be aware of fair use policy, which does allow short clips of copyrighted material as long as you've added something new to it.

Unfortunately there's a lot of corruption regarding fair use that has led to false copyright claims, strikes, and channel bans, which YouTube needs to fix.

The bottom line is that any video you upload has to be your own and if it's not, then you must give full credit to the original creator.

You can't monetize off someone else's videos.

Respect the creators by not plagiarizing their content because you may get permanently removed from YouTube.

As far as fair use policy goes, I'd be cautious when using others' clips if you're new. You may not be breaking any laws, but YouTube's copyright system is very flawed so getting banned is a possibility.


Rule #5: Don't Threaten Others

Do not upload videos that target any group or individual with the threat of violence or intimidation.

Other intolerable acts include:

  • Revealing personal information about others
  • Inciting acts of violence
  • Invading privacy
  • Harassment of any kind

No matter how much you dislike someone, you cannot try to take them down by revealing personal things about them in your videos.

Your actions can't be invasive or used to incite violence. You can't harass anyone, you can't intimidate them, and you can't encourage your viewers to attack them.

Now this doesn't mean you can't criticize someone or parody them, but you have to aware of the repercussions.

Nowadays a lot of youtubers are encouraging their viewers to do the dirty work for them, which is never okay.

If you see other creators either directly or indirectly encouraging their audience to harass other people, then report them immediately.


Rule #6: Hateful Content

When discussing censorship, too many people accuse YouTube of stifling free speech.

What people don't understand is that those laws were meant to protect citizens from the government.

YouTube has every right to ban those who spew hate speech pertaining to categories like:

  • Race or ethnic origin
  • Disability
  • Religion
  • Gender/Age
  • Sexual orientation/identity
  • Veteran status

Malicious comments made towards a specific group is ban-worthy especially if your channel is dedicated towards spreading hateful commentary.

As with most rules, not everything you say is going to get you in trouble because context matters. You can get away with jokes or statements meant to be funny, but be mindful of the groups you're insulting.

You may not get in hot water, but your commentary can alienate viewers of certain races or genders. A simple phrase is enough to turn off your audience if you're not careful.

So remain cautious when editing your videos, and be mindful of your audience.


Rule #7 Spam or Misleading Content

If you're trying to abuse YouTube's algorithm by unfairly promoting your content, then your channel may get deleted for spamming.

Spamming includes the following:

  • Artificial traffic (Bots)
  • Misleading thumbnails and metadata
  • Content spam
  • Scams
  • Extortion

Do not attempt to be slick by re-uploading previous videos, using false thumbnails or excessive clickbait titles, creating misleading metadata, scamming viewers, and blackmailing others.

The two biggest culprits remain false title/thumbnails and re-uploading past videos for extra views. I don't think all clickbait is terrible but if it's completely irrelevant to the video, then you shouldn't do it.

Update: YouTube now does video previews where placing the pointer on the thumbnail will show you snippets of the video.

Hopefully that will discourage creators from false advertising. YouTube also needs to drop the hammer on those who re-upload older videos because it's unfair to their audience.

If you're a YouTube creator, then don't do anything to deceive your audience because you'll lose your credibility, your viewers, and even the channel.

Your Turn

What's the most important rule?

See results

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