YouTube is created by three former PayPal employees in February 2005, on which users can upload, view and share videos. Most of the content on YouTube has been uploaded by individuals, although media corporations including CBS, BBC, VEVO, Hulu, and other organizations offer some of their material via the site, as part of the YouTube partnership program. In November 2006, YouTube, LLC was bought by Google Inc. for US$1.65 billion, and now operates as a subsidiary of Google.
Viewing YouTube videos on a personal computer requires the Adobe Flash Player plug-in to be installed on the browser. The Adobe Flash Player plug-in is one of the most common pieces of software installed on personal computers and accounts for almost 75% of online video material. In January 2010, YouTube launched an experimental version of the site that uses the built-in multimedia capabilities of web browsers supporting the HTML5 standard. This allows videos to be viewed without requiring Adobe Flash Player or any other plug-in to be installed.
All YouTube users can upload videos up to 15 minutes in duration. Users who have a good track record of complying with the site's Community Guidelines may be offered the ability to upload videos of unlimited length, which requires verifying the account, normally through a mobile phone. When YouTube was launched in 2005, it was possible to upload long videos, but a ten-minute limit was introduced in March 2006 after YouTube found that the majority of videos exceeding this length were unauthorised uploads of television shows and films. The 10-minute limit was increased to 15 minutes in July 2010. File size is limited to 2 GB for uploads from YouTube web page, and to 20 GB if Java-based Advanced Uploader is used.
YouTube has featured an April Fools prank on the site on April 1 of every year since 2008:
- 2008: All the links to the videos on the main page were redirected to Rick Astley's music video "Never Gonna Give You Up", a prank known as "Rickrolling".
- 2009: When clicking on a video on the main page, the whole page turned upside down. YouTube claimed that this was a new layout.
- 2010: YouTube temporarily released a "TEXTp" mode, which translated the colors in the videos to random upper case letters. YouTube claimed in a message that this was done in order to reduce bandwidth costs by $1 per second.
- 2011: The site celebrated its "100th anniversary" with a "1911 button" and a range of sepia-toned silent, early 1900s-style films, including "Flugelhorn Feline", a parody of Keyboard Cat.
- 2012: Clicking on the image of a DVD next to the site logo led to a video about "The YouTube Collection", an option to order every YouTube video for home delivery on DVD. The spoof promotional video promised "It's the complete YouTube experience completely offline.
- 2013: In YouTube's sixth April Fools prank, YouTube claims that it will be no longer been accepting new entries. In a video, YouTube claims the video-sharing website was launched as a contest which has finally come to an end. YouTube will select a winner on April 1st, 2013 and will delete everything else. YouTube will go back online in 2023 and will have a winning video and nothing else. The video features a number of YouTube celebrities.
YouTube has had a lot of controversies since its inception and still has, such as spam, controversial or sensitive content (i.e. conspiracy theories, animal cruelty and racism) and issues with some of its users.
Among the minor glitches that would usually appear on any other site, in mid-February 2012 a series of strange glitches caused many Downfall parodies to be blocked. The glitch was later solved.
Around July 2013, a whole new suite of glitches plagued the native YouTube player. For starters, the player will insist on switching playback option to 'best quality', and will change any 'slow connection' setting at its whim without permission. This 'best quality' option, which have been around for a few months, also resulted in more infamy of YouTube, with the Internet citing and making fun at how buffered parts disappear when one seek to a different part of the video. Other glitches in the suite include videos stopping or cease loading at random and black bars that pushed part of the video under the control bar.
The new channel layout
Since March 2012 YouTube has implemented a new channel layout, that has caused more controversy than the other older layouts. Very few have liked the new layout.
The complains are usually the following: inability to customize the personal channel (unless you're a YouTube partner), channel comments are no longer on the front page, neither is the subscribers list, many have claimed to be lifeless as a result.
It should be noted that almost all the negative reactions are referred to the channel design, the YouTube homepage has not come under the same level of criticism (possibly because it changed more often).
Even newer channel layout
Beginning October 2012, another radical layout change sporadically crop out between page loads (sometimes you got this new layout, sometimes you don't), which has been criticized as being more flawed than ever. It removed so many features off YouTube (viewed as an attempt to 'dumb down' the website to suit it's dumb demographics) in what is viewed as another attempt to "Google+"-ify YouTube, that one cannot even view their channel and inbox without considerable tinkering and URL hacks. There is also no notice whatsoever on YouTube regarding this change.
By early 2013, the transition is complete, and users are getting the new layout outside channel pages. The buggy user navigation has also been fixed. This new site layout also tends to change often, one small part at a time. Some of these subtle changes include:
- YouTube player changes
- Change in appearance
- Pause annotation (often used to loop the video) no longer works
- Videos no longer loop through any of their traditional means (annotations as well as loop=1 and similar URL hacks)
- Ability to add channel watermark and feature a video on all videos of one's channel
- Playlist is moved to the right side of the video - a good change for once
- Video suggestions in site feed (often completely irrelevant)
- “FUUUUUUUUU :(”
- “YouTube's One Channel - now 200% whiter!”
- ―Anonymous YouTube user
Around March 2013, YouTube offers yet another new channel layout named One Channel, intended to streamline the layout across all platforms (e.g. desktop, tablet, mobile, etc.) While some users enthusiastically adopt the new layout, critics lament at yet more loss of features, among them channel backgrounds. This new channel layout also presents - for the first time - suggested channels in the channel page itself; an undesirable feature to most Untergangers as YouTube is notorious for suggesting completely irrelevant and -- for Untergangers -- neo-nazi channels.
Fusion with Google+
- “why the fuck do i need a google+ account to comment on a video?”
- ―Jawed Karim on the new YouTube comments system.
On 6 November 2013, YouTube implemented a new comment system that requires all YouTube users to use a Google+ account in order to comment on videos, essentially integrating Google+ into the site. This has been met with scathing reaction from the community, so much that even YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim posted a question on his YouTube channel to express his negative opinion of the change, in his second-ever YouTube post. The presentation video uploaded by YouTube to explain this system quickly became one of the most disliked videos. The new comments system restored the ability to post URLs in comments, which had previously been removed due to problems with abuse. Because of this, the spamming rate on YouTube skyrocketed, and now it's very hard if not impossible to find a popular video on YouTube that hasn't been spammed, with links to porn and scam websites being posted. The new system has also been reported to be more prone to abuse, with inappropriate imagery, obscene ASCIIs and neo-Nazi references.
- “So the new updated and improved Youtube is so damn fantastic, that its a simple matter of changing your avatar on g+ and then wait around twiddling thumbs for 3 DAYS or so to wait and see if it might change on Youtube.
The wonders of modern technology never cease to amaze me. Really.
What's really annoying is that, somewhere, someone is getting well paid for this shit.”
- ―thestartrekkie about the avatar changing problem
The interface kept getting worse, and as of Jan 2014 people complained that they've lost the ability to change the avatar, and even if they can it'd take at least three days to see if it appear on YouTube.
Google, however, had started easing on the G+ integration, signaled by the resignation of the creator and leader of Google+, Vic Gundotra, from Google. Google co-founder Sergey Brin had stated that Google+'s push was "a mistake" for him.