Video platform YouTube is apparently running an experiment to test auto-generated thumbnails for content.
According to a tweet made by Team YouTube, 0.3 per cent of viewers will see a video thumbnail that has been automatically generated by the platform, rather than the custom thumbnail that a creator has made.
The platform is not removing the ability to create or upload customised thumbnails, but creators are not best pleased with the change.
We are running a small experiment where 0.3% of viewers will see an auto-generated thumbnail, instead of your custom thumbnail. We are not removing the ability to create your custom thumbnail, but we hope to gain insights on auto-generated thumbnails for the future.— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) June 28, 2018
Can you not?
The discovery was made after YouTube creator Rayo Alarcón Gareca reached out to YouTube asking why his customised thumbnails had disappeared.
YouTube's response provoked a number of creators to hit back at the decision, asking why they were not informed of the update.
Hello YouTube, it’s not a good research practice when you:— Penny
• Didn’t ask for participants’ consent
• Didn’t formally debrief participants after experiments
What ethics council gave you your research approval?
Creator Riley J. Dennis hit back saying that creators should be informed of the change and given the option to opt in or not of the feature. Thumbnails are a big part of a creator's branding and content, and having them removed can be detrimental to a channel's engagement.
....you shouldn't just.... run experiments on us without our consent?? at least let creators opt-in to this if they want. but there's a reason we design our own thumbnails. you're harming our branding and engagement for your own research purposes. @TeamYouTube https://t.co/0PhE65YiXH— Riley J. Dennis (@RileyJayDennis) June 28, 2018
Where does it stop?
YouTube is no stranger to both making changes without warning and upsetting its creators. A slurry of issues has already begun to alienate creators over the past year, not to mention the ongoing demonetisation crisis happening across the platform.
Last month, YouTube also began trialling an algorithm that decides what viewers can see in their sub boxes based on their watch history, making the subscription button redundant. They also started to run this feature without informing creators of the change.
The platform recently launched YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, two subscription services rivalling Spotify and Amazon Prime.
A subscription button has begun to roll out creators too, offering fans the option to donate a set amount of $4.99 a month to a channel, similar to Twitch subs.
While YouTube giveth with one hand, it seems they sure do like to taketh away with the other.