YouTube counts views using a sophisticated system to track and validate each view. While the exact algorithms used by YouTube are proprietary and subject to change, the general principles of view counting are as follows:
Initial view count: When a video is first uploaded to YouTube, the view count starts at zero.
User interaction: When a user clicks on a video and starts watching it, YouTube starts counting the views. However, YouTube doesn't count repeated views from the same user in a short time frame to prevent spamming.
Time duration: YouTube typically requires a user to watch a video for a certain minimum duration (usually around 30 seconds) to count it as a view. This is done to distinguish legitimate views from accidental clicks or automated view-generating bots.
Video embedding: If a video is embedded on another website or social media platform, YouTube still counts those views as long as the video is being played on the YouTube player and the view duration criteria are met.
View validation: YouTube employs various mechanisms to validate the legitimacy of views. This includes filtering out fraudulent views generated by bots or other artificial means. Invalid or suspicious views are removed from the view count.
Real-time view count: In the initial hours after a video's release, YouTube may display the view count in real-time, allowing creators and viewers to see the immediate impact. However, the view count may become frozen for a short period while YouTube's systems verify and remove any invalid views.
View updates: YouTube periodically updates the view count for videos to ensure accuracy and account for any adjustments made to the view validation system.
It’s important to note that YouTube’s view counting algorithms and policies are constantly evolving to stay ahead of attempts to manipulate or inflate view counts artificially. This is done to maintain a fair and reliable platform for both content creators and viewers.