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What Are YouTube Captions Talking About?
By: Jessica Cherok
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YouTube has a captioning problem. Specifically, an automatic captioning problem. The video-sharing site has admitted that its automatic subtitling has some serious issues.

In response, hard-of-hearing vlogger Rikki Poynter has started a campaign to get video posters to manually subtitle their videos until YouTube can improve its automatic system. Poynter complains that the automatic subtitles “make absolutely no sense 99% of the time.”

She further cites an example where she was watching a video about concealers, but the subtitles were related to zebras.

In addition to appealing to individual posters, Poynter has taken the issue directly to YouTube. The company has promised it is working to improve the automatic system. YouTube's product manager Matthew Glotzbach said, "Although I think having auto caption is better than nothing I fully admit and I fully recognise that it is by no means good enough yet."

In the interim, Poynter hopes other YouTubers will commit to doing subtitles manually.

Her cause has gained the attention of some high-profile vloggers. Both Tyler Oakley and Tanya Burr have rallied around the issue. Burr recently said, "People actually turn the subtitles on sometimes just for fun because they're like, it's so hilarious seeing what they'll actually come up with, because it's completely wrong."

However, for people who legitimately need the subtitles to understand the video, the issue is less hilarious.

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About the Author
Jessica Cherok is an advocate for online privacy, campaigning for ethical data practices and the protection of personal privacy.
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