Seismic changes are coming to the largest streaming platform on the internet, YouTube, as the company has announced it will be removing all pop-up annotations from its videos in January of 2019. One of the most popular websites on the internet and a central hub of digital culture, YouTube has already removed the annotations editor in 2017, but the new changes will also remove any previously-instated annotations on old videos still available on the platform.

Video annotations have a complicated history on YouTube; they often produced glitches, for instance, and mobile devices were never capable of hosting annotations despite the fact that they were an increasingly popular way that users were accessing YouTube’s services.

According to The Verge, the company saw the need to remove the annotation editor as early as 2017, meaning no new ones could be placed, but the recent announcement by the company takes that move a step further. They will wholly strip away any and all pop-up annotations on existing videos, too.

The company hopes that this will bolster its streaming services while encouraging content creators to focus more on the actual content of their videos rather than post-editing. Annotations were frequently used to correct mistakes in videos, like amending an improperly-cited figure or adding additional context, though their usage dropped substantially after the annotation editor was removed in 2017.

Importance of YouTube

YouTube remains one of the biggest names in cultural entertainment, news and information, and education today. The website now has over 1.8 billion users every month, according to Business Insider, and it remains one of the most popular options among younger digital users. YouTube is Google’s most popular business, eclipsing even the well-known Gmail.

Rise of annotations

Video annotations weren’t always used for corrections – some users embedded links in them, for instance, allowing viewers to click on annotations for money saving websites as they appeared, which facilitated interested “choose-your-own-adventure” style video series unlike anything seen before. With the new changes, however, all existing annotations will be completely stripped from the website.

YouTube’s internet presence has grown so large that it’s become the dominant source of entertainment and education for today’s youth. Consumers between the ages of 13 and 24 are consuming less television than ever before these days, according to Tubular Insights, a video marketing company. They now spend more time on YouTube than they do in front of television sets.