YouTube has removed more than 2 billion views from the Sony/BMG and Universal accounts. The move comes as part of a big spring clean by YouTube, which has withdrawn "fake views" from videos in more than 500 accounts over the past month.
YouTube is becoming a favourite among so-called black hat SEO scammers. Web users manipulate YouTube's view count systems to gain large numbers of views on videos. The result is that the videos rise to the fore on the video-sharing site and gain more views in turn.
Many of the black hat view-count builders promise near-instant returns on video views. Some offer as many as 100,000 views for around $5. It looks like YouTube is now finally cracking down on them and taking the music industry big boys with them.
Many of the biggest violating music labels have had most of their videos and content removed from their accounts. Sony's account is almost entirely empty at the time of writing.
Why, how or even if the major labels acquired illegitimate views that would be in violation of YouTube's policies remains to be seen. The main offenders mostly go against article 4, section H of YouTube's terms of service which relates to automated methods of view count inflation.
We think it's good to see YouTube levelling the playing field a bit. It should mean tat in future there is space on YouTube's homepage for genuinely exciting and viral content.
UPDATE It looks like YouTube hasn't stripped Sony and Universal of its views, but rather removed them from videos that haven't been active for a period of time.
Sony and Universal migrated content to VEVO and left numerous "dead" videos on their own accounts, hence the view deletion. This would also help to explain why so many videos have been removed from the respective accounts.
So no black hat to be found here then. However, such techniques do still exist and, in all liklihood, continue to raise views by pay-for customers artificially.