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How to Apply for the Removal of Comments Posted on Someone Else's YouTube Video


How to Apply for the Removal of Comments Posted on Someone Else's YouTube Video

YouTube is the world’s largest video sharing site. Recently, YouTubers who have become famous on YouTube have been entering the entertainment industry, attracting attention not only from long-time viewers but also from the general public.

Videos on YouTube come with a feature that allows viewers to freely post comments. Since anyone can view the comment section, if defamatory comments are posted, it can cause significant damage.

In this article, we will explain how to handle comments posted on someone else’s YouTube video.

Explanation about YouTube

YouTube is a video sharing site operated by YouTube, LLC, which is headquartered in the state of California, United States. Established in 2005, it was acquired by Google in 2006 and is now a subsidiary of Google. On YouTube, as long as you register an account, anyone can upload videos for free, making it a platform used by many people worldwide, from ordinary individuals to celebrities. In fact, videos with a wide range of purposes, from personal music and art, political speeches, to product introductions, are uploaded. Moreover, even without an account, you can view the uploaded videos for free. This ease of use has contributed to YouTube’s popularity, and as of December 2016, it was reported that YouTube had the second highest number of visitors in the world.

Reputational Damage Caused by YouTube Comments

Cases of Comment Deletion on YouTube

YouTube videos come with a feature that allows anyone with a Google account to easily post comments. There is also a function that allows viewers to freely reply to these comments. As a result, not only can defamatory comments be posted about the video or its performers, but also defamatory comments can be made in response to comments about other people’s videos. YouTube is freely accessible to anyone, and the comment section is no exception.

Therefore, if defamatory comments are posted in the YouTube comment section, the mental distress suffered by the victim can be significant. Moreover, unless special settings are made, YouTube comments are posted under the registered name of the Google account. As the registered name of a Google account is often the user’s real name, if a third party posts a defamatory comment in response to a comment posted casually under one’s real name, it can easily link the individual to the defamatory content. The comments section on YouTube remains unless the video is deleted. Therefore, for example, if a company happens to discover a comment during job recruitment, it cannot be denied that this could potentially work against the individual in the selection process.

Removal of Comments Due to Violation of YouTube’s Terms of Use

If defamatory comments are posted on YouTube, the first course of action is to directly request YouTube to remove the comments. To do this, it is necessary to confirm whether the problematic comment is defined as something that should be removed under YouTube’s terms of use. Whether YouTube removes a comment based on a removal request is ultimately determined based on the terms of use. The YouTube Community Guidelines stipulate that comments that fall under the following categories are subject to removal:

・Nudity or sexual content
・Harmful and dangerous content
・Offensive content
・Violent and graphic content
・Harassment and cyberbullying
・Spam, misleading metadata, and scams
・Copyright infringement
・Privacy invasion
・Endangering child safety[ja]

The issues that often arise with defamatory comments are “offensive content” and “harassment and cyberbullying”. Regarding “offensive content”, the YouTube Community Guidelines explain as follows:

Content that promotes or condones violence against individuals or groups based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, gender, age, nationality, veteran status, caste, sexual orientation, or gender identity, or content that incites hatred on the basis of these core personalityistics

For example, comments such as “People of XX should leave!” can be considered as promoting racial discrimination, and thus fall under “offensive content”, and you can request their removal. Also, regarding “harassment and cyberbullying”, the YouTube Community Guidelines explain as follows:

Posting harassing videos or comments on YouTube is not allowed. If harassment crosses the line into a malicious attack, it can be reported and may be removed. In other cases, users are advised to ignore and move on from minor discomfort.[ja]

Therefore, if it’s just a critical comment like “The person who made this comment doesn’t understand anything”, the likelihood of it being subject to removal is low. However, if aggressive comments like “The person who made this comment is too stupid! I’ll crush them thoroughly when I find them” are repeatedly and persistently made, it may be considered as “harassment and cyberbullying” and removal may be permitted.

How to Request Comment Removal on YouTube

The easiest way to request YouTube to remove defamatory comments is to use the report function available for each comment. The steps are as follows:

・Place the cursor on the problematic comment to display the three-dot icon in the top right.
・Click on the top right icon and select ‘Report’ from the options that appear.

・Select the reason for requesting removal in accordance with YouTube’s community guidelines and click ‘Report’.

However, if there are many defamatory comments across multiple videos, it can be cumbersome to report each comment individually. In such cases, it is better to use the ‘Report Tool’ within YouTube to report comments that violate the guidelines. Please note that you need to be registered with a channel to use the reporting tool.

What is the method to apply for the removal of defamatory comments on YouTube videos? A lawyer explains

Furthermore, if the defamatory comments extend to defamation or privacy infringement, which will be explained later, you can request removal through the ‘Legal Issues Web Form’. When you click on this form, a screen will appear for you to select the reason for your application. Please be aware that if you select ‘Unfair Treatment/Harassment’, you will be directed to use the comment reporting function and will not be able to proceed further.

After selecting the reason for your application and clicking ‘Next’, a page will appear for you to fill in different details for each reason. Here, you will specify the problematic video URL and comments and request their removal.

For more detailed explanations on how to request the removal of defamatory comments on YouTube videos based on violations of the terms of use, please refer to the article below.

Related Article: What is the method to apply for the removal of defamatory comments on YouTube videos? A lawyer explains[ja]

Examples of Requesting Comment Deletion on the Grounds of Illegality

Comments that are defamatory not only violate terms of use, but can also be illegal. A common example of this is defamation. A comment posted on YouTube can be defamatory if it can be said to lower a person’s social reputation. However, defamation does not occur if the posted fact is true or if there is a legitimate reason or basis to believe it is true. We have detailed the requirements for defamation in the article below.

Related Article: What are the conditions for suing for defamation? Explaining the recognized requirements and the average compensation for emotional distress[ja]

For example, suppose a reply comment is posted on a video by celebrity A, stating that the person who wrote the original comment under their real Google account name is an office worker having an affair with celebrity A. Generally, having an affair can be said to lower a person’s social reputation, so if this is baseless, defamation may occur. If a comment is illegal, you can also request YouTube, the site operator, to take measures to prevent transmission based on the Japanese Provider Liability Limitation Act. This can result in the same outcome as if the comment was deleted. However, it should be noted that this is done at YouTube’s discretion and does not necessarily guarantee deletion.

Utilizing Provisional Disposition Procedures for Comment Removal

If YouTube does not respond to your direct request for comment removal, it may be necessary to file a provisional disposition through the court. A provisional disposition is a simplified court procedure that typically concludes within about 1 to 2 months. If the court concludes that the comment should be removed through the provisional disposition, YouTube will then proceed with the comment removal. For more details on the provisional disposition seeking post removal, please refer to the article below.

Related Article: What is the “Removal Provisional Disposition” Important in Defamation Measures?[ja]

Identification of Posters through Provisional Dispositions

If you are suffering mental distress or actual harm due to defamatory comments, identifying the poster and seeking damages may be an option. The procedure for identifying the poster is called a request for disclosure of sender information. We provide a detailed explanation of requests for disclosure of sender information in the article below.

Related article: What is a Request for Disclosure of Sender Information? A Lawyer Explains the Method and Points to Note[ja]

International Jurisdiction

YouTube, LLC, the company that operates YouTube, is a foreign corporation headquartered in the United States. Therefore, it is a question whether it is possible to initiate legal proceedings against YouTube in Japanese courts. However, in the case of YouTube, there is at least a site for residents in Japan, which falls under one of the cases stipulated by the Japanese Civil Procedure Law that allows lawsuits to be filed in Japanese courts, namely, “those who conduct business in Japan”. Therefore, it is possible to file a provisional disposition application for comment deletion against YouTube or a request for disclosure of sender information in Japanese courts. For more details on international jurisdiction, please refer to the article below.

Related article: International Jurisdiction and Overseas Sites such as Facebook and Amazon[ja]

Summary: If You’re Struggling with Online Defamation, Consult a Lawyer

YouTube is a video sharing site with a very high number of viewers, so the mental distress and actual harm victims can suffer from defamatory comments can be significant. Online defamation tends to spread easily and remains unless it is deleted. Therefore, if you are a victim, we recommend that you consult with a lawyer or other expert as soon as possible.

Introduction to Our Firm’s Measures

Monolith Law Office is a legal office with extensive experience in both IT, particularly the internet, and law. In recent years, information related to reputational damage and defamation spread on the internet has been causing serious harm as a “digital tattoo”. Our firm provides solutions for dealing with these “digital tattoos”. Details are provided in the article below.

Areas of expertise at Monolith Law Office: Digital Tattoo[ja]

Managing Attorney: Toki Kawase

The Editor in Chief: Managing Attorney: Toki Kawase

An expert in IT-related legal affairs in Japan who established MONOLITH LAW OFFICE and serves as its managing attorney. Formerly an IT engineer, he has been involved in the management of IT companies. Served as legal counsel to more than 100 companies, ranging from top-tier organizations to seed-stage Startups.

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