Fighting Robots Videos Pulled Off YouTube for Showing “Animal Cruelty”

Robots fight in the ring in Battlebots TV series, get temporary YouTube ban 5 photos
Photo: YouTube / Jamison Go
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In what is a hilarious little story about how badly AI can mess up and a current joke online, YouTube banned videos of fighting robots, affecting mostly channels belonging to the TV series Battlebots.
The more hilarious part of the story is the reason why these videos got pulled off the video sharing platform: they were considered animal cruelty and were, as such, in violation of YouTube’s policy of prohibiting videos “where animals are encouraged or coerced to fight by humans” and show “deliberate infliction of animal suffering.”

Since this happened, all videos have been restored because uploaders appealed the decision. The temporary ban was first spotted by Maker’s Muse; MotherBoard spoke to several people who’ve had videos removed and they say there was no clear pattern in the way the removal was one. They also claim the appeal process is not as straightforward as it should be, having had to go through several pages to get to the button where they could ask for re-review of the decision.

A spokesperson for the video sharing platform confirms the snafu for the same media outlet, noting that all videos have been reinstated.

“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call,” the statement says. “When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it. We also offer uploaders the ability to appeal removals and we will re-review the content.”

Despite some reports that the ban was the result of “manual review,” this was most likely a case of flawed algorithms. As MotherBoard notes, YouTube relies too heavily on “inconsistent, flawed algorithmic systems to catch restricted content” and this was probably one of those cases, as well.

Then again, humans do tend to think of inanimate objects, especially robots, as if they were alive, which makes us feel uncomfortable when we see them in certain situations. Maybe YouTube was only looking out for those poor Battlebots.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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