What is YouTube doing?
I caught wind of this after a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity with some friends. I had just laid down in my bed and was checking Twitter before sleeping, and I saw tweets from Grummz condemning something YouTube had done. I investigated, believing they had just borked their copyright system again, but what I had found was worse.
YouTube is, apparently, shifting towards more “advertiser-friendly” policies, and as a result, has rethought what makes a video monetizable. Before, it was simply a matter of whether you got a copyright claim against your video (which was easy enough on its own), but now, there’s a multitude of reasons your video can be denied monetization or have monetization removed from it (yes, this applies retroactively). Not only is this destroying the livelihood of almost every content creator using the site, it shows total tone-deafness towards the YT community.
The last rule is the most worrying of them all, but every other rule is so mind-numbingly dumb, especially since it applies to every YouTuber under the sun. Just looking at YouTube’s most subscribed channels, you see names like PewDiePie, EminemVEVO, VanossGaming, Markiplier, Machinima, JackSepticEye, and more. All of these channels break YouTube’s first three advertising rules right off the bat. In the case of Eminem, it overachieves and breaks all five. All of the videos on these channels, YouTube’s cash cows, are no longer eligible for advertising. Not only does this not make YouTube money, it destroys the main incomes of many content creators. Out of that list, everyone on it either has YouTube as their full-time job or is an actual production company whose outlet is YouTube. Think about YouTube staples like Angry Video Game Nerd. Half of his videos won’t last under these new rules.
But that’s subjective. To some, YouTubing may not be a “real job.” Fine, let’s talk about how these rules are objectively wrong. Specifically, the last one. Now, wanting to discourage controversial topics is a common rule on Internet forums to make moderators’ jobs easier. However, on one of the biggest content platforms in the world, controversial topics may be the focus of many creators. Heck, the news is a controversial topic!
I can only see this rule as YouTube wanting to create some kind of safe space Internet hugbox to “protect the innocent” and create some G-rated platform to make money. Hey, YouTube: G-ratings don’t sell! I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of person came up with this idea, be it at YouTube or in Google or even Alphabet. It’s not like it’s a pattern of behavior we’ve seen before…
As someone who read 1984 once, the last rule is the scariest, since it’s already used and abused across large social media platforms selectively. Twitter, Facebook, and even Reddit have rules similar to the following, and all three have been known to remove the content if it, to them, breaks that rule, despite other posts remaining up that violate the same rules but get “preferential treatment” from the sites (e.g. post far left-leaning stuff). The last rule basically prohibits wrongthink, and since humans are at the helm of this new policy, you can’t expect it to be fair. This will be selective and this will be used to silence views YouTube doesn’t like. Channels like the often-debunked Feminist Frequency (which talks about sexism, a plenty controversial topic) will not be touched.
Unless YouTube does a complete 180 quickly, this attitude will be its doom. Large content creators who have their revenue suddenly cut off will flock to other sites that promise ad revenue for their videos. Not necessarily pre-existing ones like Vimeo or Dailymotion, some new one will pop up. Until then, sit back and watch the fireworks.