Get Blurred: Youtube Introduces Visual Anonimity

Yesterday internet video giant YouTube launched a new feature which will allow uploaders to easily blur the faces of everybody in their videos with just a single click. According to Amanda Conway, YouTube policy associate, this can have a range of uses. Her recent blog post highlights a few such scenarios such as masking your kid’s identity in videos that you have shared.


The more likely use of this feature (besides kids using it as a source of amusement amongst themselves) is in the realm of protest and activists as it can be used to blur the identities of those who may be at risk through their support of a given cause. As Conway says,

“Visual anonymity in video allows people to share personal footage more widely and to speak out when they otherwise may not.”

With YouTube becoming an increasingly powerful platform in sharing events from around the world it becomes increasingly important to ensure the safety of individuals who may have been filmed, knowingly or otherwise.

Unfortunately it seems that the blurring technology has to be applied to either all faces in a clip or none at all – selective blurring will, presumably, be something for the future. Still, it is a good step in the right direction for those who wish to share video footage without risking the safety of those within it.

“YouTube is proud to be a destination where people worldwide come to share their stories, including activists. Along with efforts like the Human Rights Channel and Citizentube that curate these voices, we hope that the new technologies we’re rolling out will facilitate the sharing of even more stories on our platform.”

That said, I do wonder if YouTube will retain a copy of the unmasked video in case anyone is stupid enough to film themselves breaking their own laws!

If you are someone who uploads videos to YouTube and wish to take advantage of this new blurring feature then it is a fairly simple process, though some people are reporting that it is not yet live for them. What you will need to do is –

  • Choose the video to blur within the Video Enhancements tool
  • Go to Additional Features and then click on the Apply button below Blur All Faces

You can then preview the new blurred video and publish it, as well as delete the original. As with all new technology, it may not work perfectly so if you are uploading sensitive footage then do ensure you don’t forget that preview stage!

About Lee Munson

Lee's non-technical background allows him to write about internet security in a clear way that is understandable to both IT professionals and people just like you who need simple answers to your security questions.

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