I think it’s fair to say that YouTube and the YouTubers that it consists of are in the middle of a massive, confusing shit storm right about now.
Recently, creators across YouTube began receiving notifications that some of their videos were deemed ‘unfriendly for advertisers’, with monetization disabled on said videos as a result.
These notifications have been popping up all over YouTube for everything from ‘excessive language’ to ‘sensitive subjects’. Understandably, YouTubers are not happy at all with this.
Update: At least 12 more of my videos have been hit and I'm nowhere near done. This might be part of the reason. Wow pic.twitter.com/2i6msEMv7M
— Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) August 31, 2016
DeFranco served as something of a patient zero in this epidemic – he quickly put together a video, in which he acknowledged that YouTube can do whatever they want since it’s their site, but that the repercussions will be awful.
By taking away the ability to monetise a video where you’re saying things that they don’t deem ‘okay,’ that’s been described as censorship with a different name. Because if you do this on the regular and you have no advertising, it’s not sustainable.
You can watch the full video – which currently has nearly 3 million views – below.
DeFranco’s tweets and subsequent video quickly circulated, leading other YouTubers to speak out against these advertising policies.
The majority of channels that are the most vulnerable to these advertising guidelines seem to be ‘hard news’ channels covering sensitive topics though gaming pages (who do love to swear) are also reporting more demonetised content.
Looks like this may be their way of getting rid of some of the channels whose content they do not like. time will tell whats what.
— Boogie2988 (@Boogie2988) August 31, 2016
We're not allowed to talk about current events!?
Seriously we can't TALK about natural disasters! pic.twitter.com/4tvjGTE2EZ
— Normal Human (@GeekRemix) August 31, 2016
Videos can be demonetized for "sexually suggestive humor and inappropriate language" are you kidding me?
— Matt Watson (@matthwatson) September 1, 2016
Just heard about that apparent "no swearing on YouTube or ads" thing. The hell will they enforce that shit?
— Jim RESISTerling (@JimSterling) September 1, 2016
But while YouTubers worry about some kind of shady policy change, YouTube has come forward to claim that this policy is not new, and has not significantly changed in any way.
A statement given to PC Invasion from YouTube reads:
While our policy of demonetizing videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn’t changed, we’ve recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication.
In short, it would appear the only change is a more expedient flagging process. In fact, the full ‘advertiser-friendly’ policy can be read here.
One notable line suggests the same protection as always for the majority of content:
If the video does contain inappropriate content, the context is usually newsworthy or comedic and the creator’s intent is to inform or entertain (not offend or shock).
So in conclusion, it would appear that the content creators of YouTube have little to worry about here (for now) – any creator who thinks a video has been unjustly or incorrectly flagged should go here.
Perhaps though, we should remain sceptical until we see just how expedient and fair the actual appeal process is.
Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.