As concerns about online privacy increase and the abilities of nefarious parties online continue to expand, the worry over things like websites accessing your webcam without permission naturally increases alongside them. While YouTube is not a “nefarious party” in an online security sense (though a healthy distrust of huge corporations is rarely a bad thing), users understandably still want to maintain their privacy, even from platforms like YouTube.
To give a brief answer to this question, no, YouTube cannot access your camera… unless you allow them to! And you will need to allow them to for certain activities, such as recording shorts through the YouTube app or live streaming directly through YouTube Studio.
YouTube In The Browser
Any reputable browser, such as Chrome, Firefox—or any of the other major web browsers in use today—will explicitly present you with a choice when a website wants to use your camera. We can’t speak for every browser on the market, of course, but if you use an obscure browser, you should be at least knowledgeable enough to stay secure while using that browser.
With the more well-known browsers, however, you will always be asked before a website is granted permission to anything on your device that is not part of standard web browsing protocol. You can revoke these permissions at any time, though the precise steps you need to take to do this will depend on the browser you are using.
So, when using a browser, yes, YouTube can access your camera, but you have to allow it, and you are free to revoke that permission any time you wish.
YouTube will only ask permission to use your camera if you are doing something that requires it, such as live streaming directly through the YouTube site. This is important since requests to access your camera at seemingly inappropriate times could be a sign that your computer is infected with something malicious.
YouTube On Your Phone
Things are a little more straightforward on a mobile device, such as an Android phone or iPhone, assuming you use the YouTube app and do not go through your phone’s browser.
With the app, you will likely be asked for the relevant permissions the first time you run it. If you have previously denied those permissions and now want to grant them, you can take care of that in your phone’s settings.
The scope for requiring the use of your camera for YouTube on your phone is a little narrower since you cannot live stream from your mobile device (though you can set up streams on it), but you can still record shorts through the app in much the same way that Snaps are recorded. Or, for those of you with longer-term memories; Vine videos.
Is YouTube Trustworthy
It’s all well and good talking about how you can grant and deny YouTube permission to use your camera, but is YouTube trustworthy in the first place?
Unlike the aforementioned nefarious parties, YouTube is beholden to a range of international laws regarding what they can and cannot do. There is also a free market aspect to the situation; if YouTube suddenly decided to start filming you randomly without giving you a proper warning and without explicit consent, they would very quickly lose users
All of this adds up to a trustworthy company in terms of safety, though as mentioned above, it is perfectly normal to have some reservations about blindly trusting a corporation. Still, you should not have to worry about YouTube stealing your webcam for malicious purposes.
When on a computer (rather than a phone), especially if the computer in question is a laptop, you may have some warning that your camera has been hijacked. Many webcams these days have a light that is activated when the webcam is recording, and the same goes for certain models of DLSR and other more expensive cameras. If you notice your camera lit up when it shouldn’t be, you should look into that immediately. If you are not currently using a website or an application that uses your camera, your computer could be infected with a virus or other malicious software.
Of course, not all cameras give a visible or audible warning that they are active, and while having a camera that does warn you is handy, the best defence against your camera being used without your consent will always be to ensure that you are being safe on the Internet. Don’t download files from unknown sources, be careful about the links you click, and keep your anti-virus software updated with the latest definitions.
Do I Have To Give YouTube Permission To Access My Camera?
If you are not prepared to grant access to your camera to even a company like YouTube… you don’t have to. There are currently no YouTube services that are only usable with direct access to your camera. You can upload videos and shorts and live stream through third-party streaming applications.
The argument for allowing YouTube to access your camera is one of convenience. If you make a lot of shorts, your fastest and most convenient method will be to grant access to your camera and record your shorts through the YouTube app. The argument is less convincing on PC, where it is often just as easy to use a third-party streaming alternative rather than granting YouTube access to your camera in order to stream directly into YouTube.
While the threat of online security breaches is very real, YouTube is not, nor has ever been, the perpetrator of this kind of activity, and it is a safe bet they will remain so for the foreseeable future. As with most aspects of life online, it is crucial to stay on top of your security, because a missed update here or a questionable download there can be the difference between a secure computer and your bank details being available on the dark web!
If in doubt, revoke all permissions for services like YouTube, you can always grant them again later.
Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube
Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.
1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search
I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.
2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos
I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.
When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.
I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.
That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.
Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.
3. Rev.com helps people read my videos
You can’t always listen to a video.
Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.
This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.
Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.
A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.
4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube
I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.
I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.
That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.
Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).
5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways
I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.
And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.
I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.
I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.
They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.