YouTube Shorts will start adding watermarks to discourage cross-platform sharing

YouTube Shorts, the platform’s TikTok competitor, is rolling out a watermarking feature. That means that when creators make a short on YouTube, they won’t be able to download their video and cross-post it to other apps without a YouTube watermark.

A YouTube community manager posted about the update yesterday on a support thread that chronicles feature updates for Shorts viewers and creators. The post reads:

If you’re a creator who downloads your Shorts from YouTube Studio to share across other platforms, you’ll now find a watermark added to your downloaded content. We’ve added a watermark to the Shorts you download so your viewers can see that the content you’re sharing across platforms can be found on YouTube Shorts. This is rolling out over the next few weeks on desktop, and we plan to expand to mobile over the coming months.

When creators use a company’s technology to make a video, the platform wants to be credited as the source. TikTok has functioned the same way for years, placing its recognizable red and blue watermark on any video downloaded from the app. TikTok’s watermark has the creator’s handle on it, so if a viewer encounters the downloaded video on another app, they’ll be subtly directed back to TikTok — plus, the watermark bounces around the screen so that you can’t just crop a video to get rid of it.

As Instagram Reels tries to compete with TikTok, the Meta-owned platform has taken things a step further. Instagram has explicitly stated that its algorithm will suppress content that has a watermark from another app. For serious creators, this means editing videos on third-party apps from companies like Adobe, which then enable the creator to share the same content across multiple platforms without worrying about watermarks.

But, as it stands now, you can still download a draft from Instagram Reels without a watermark. Please, Adam Mosseri, let us have this.

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