Youtube Limits Speech To Protect Advertisers
By Jacob Suster
Over the last few weeks, a large controversy had sparked after the London Terror Attack over videos emerging on Youtube by terrorist organisations in relation to the attack. These videos were not only being left unmoderated, but some had even shown advertisements due to Youtube’s more general monetizing system. Because of this incident, there was a large outcry from both users, though primarily advertisers to not only remove this content, but prevent their ads showing up on future inappropriate content. This has sparked Youtube to take a number of routes to protect these advertisers, as well as seriously censor Youtube as a whole.
The first more welcomed change, was the creation of Youtube Kids. Essentially, Youtube Kids as described by their website, strives to give a youtube experience primarily focused around family-friendly and educational videos. The only failure is, like the old system, there is no moderation filtering out inappropriate videos from being uploaded. Because of this, internet trolls have been creating wildly disturbing videos to troll users as well as Youtube itself. Another issue is, many content creators on youtube have observed a huge decrease in revenue from the seperation of a Generation Z, which is on the internet far more than even millennials. Not only this, but Generation Z now makes up 25% of the US population, dwarfing both Baby Boomers and Millennials. Interesting to note however, is that GOOGL stock value has not only recovered but returned to increasing.
The CEO of WPP, an advertising and PR company from the United Kingdom, went on CNBC on March 31st and spoke with the hosts of the show on how the advertiser boycot of Youtube “doesn’t make sense”. In 2017, Google is anticipated to generate 73 Billion in ad revenue. WPP itself spends 5 billion on advertising with Google alone, while in comparison they spend only 1.7 billion on Facebook ads. The CEO stated that, with an internet page that allows users to generate their own content, uploading 300 hours of video to youtube every minute, it is nearly impossible to expect a method that can seriously filter out any negative content. Realistically, it would be incredibly difficult to create any sort of automated system that could fitler out racist and extremist videos without also be sophisticated enough to root out when a video was simply controversial or malicious (such as in the case of youtubers like PewDiePie).
Youtube’s automatic solution has instead, ignored the reality that it’ll be nearly impossible to seperate serious hate/racism from dark humor and off-color humor or serious discussions about politics, gender, race and religion. The newly implemented algorithm instead filters out these videos, causing youtube comedians, comentators, pundits, and social activists to all take a major hit in their ad revenue, which many of them rely on. Though it’s easy to simply blame the few malicious youtubers and terror organisations that have caused this response; the response itself has hurt both the free speech and reliability on income for youtube content creators.
It’s anticipated that overall, youtube may lose $750 million in ad revenue this year, and it’s content creators will be the ones mainly effected by this loss. Google has announced it will hire “significant numbers of people” to begin reviewing videos that are flagged, as well as include controls for advertisers to be more involved with how their ads show up on youtube.