If you follow the YouTube drama closely because you’re subscribed to a collection of content creators, you know that the community’s been through a lot. This time, the phenomenon has the potential to impact content creators and viewers equally.
First, let’s address the issue. What is happening is that YouTube, after a decade, decided to spontaneously enforce their rules to appeal to their advertisers.
The content seen as unfit for monetization include:
-Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
-Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
-Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language
-Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items
-Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown
It’s no secret that YouTube is growing more popular than TV, but just sit down, read those rules again, and imagine a YouTube without said things. If you know YouTube, you know that almost every content creator’s video(s) falls into at least one of the above to a certain extent.
A lot needs to be clarified, but in layman’s terms, content creators have the potential to be denied funding for their opinions/content by advertisers.
Let’s make one thing clear. No one is being censored by YouTube, and they are not to blame. No videos have been removed. The advertisers have every right to remove advertisements off of videos they don’t find suitable. It’s understandable to blame YouTube for enforcing this, but if you want to point fingers, blame the advertisers, not Youtube.
There are some goods and bads about this enforcement—the worst being how vague the terms are.
Will a vlogger’s content be seen as unfit for monetization, let’s call the term flagged, for a vlog in a bikini? Because that’s technically partial nudity. Will a gamer’s “let’s play” be flagged if the game they’re playing features some skimpy outfits? Will a high school swimmer’s video of his state championship be flagged because the high schoolers were all wearing speedos?
And sexual humor? Really? Come on advertisers. It’s the Internet. People make sex jokes because they’re funny. It’s sad to see that someone can get their video flagged if they try to get a good laugh there. Don’t get me wrong though, some sex jokes go to the extreme and are really not OK, and when it’s excessive, it’s not funny, but the subtle or immature jokes that make you chuckle should be perfectly fine.
Then there is violence. What defines depictions of violence? Video games? A boxing match? I can understand that a high school fist fight would not be supported, but, seriously, the second rule is so vague and has the ability to take out entire communities.
Inappropriate language. Again, it’s the Internet. And freedom of speech. And who deems what words are offensive to whom? Oh wait—society. If society deemed “potato salad” as a curse word, everyone who is sensitive would be so quick to crucify you for saying it just like certain NSFW words rhyming with duck and spit.
“But there’s children!” Just like a child surfing Netflix with numerous hours of mature content one click away, why would YouTube be any different? Parents should be in control of the situation. It’s ridiculous how people will blame content creators for the stuff they say, when that content creator’s audience is clearly not for children. I could write a whole article about how ridiculous it is to assign a negative meaning to literally letters and act like we’re saying Voldemort’s name. Sorry—he who must not be named.
Promotion of drugs is pretty obvious but one could argue this from the pharmaceutical perspective or the illegal substance perspective.
The last rule is as bad as the inappropriate language one. Basically, you can’t talk about politically fueled topics. You can just dissect that one. The more you think about it, the worse it gets.
Now I know I’ve been speaking of these rules as if they will end YouTube, even though they won’t, but there’s a reason for that. You have to understand, some content creators live off of YouTube. It is their career. If you think this is a joke, research PewDiePie’s net worth.
Hypocritical to their slogan, “broadcast yourself,” the people who survive off the site whose content fall into the categories above, may be severely punished. How can you expect your favorite gamer to produce videos for you if they, first of all, love what they do but, second, don’t get paid for what they do? What do they get out of it now? Depending on the attitude of YouTube advertisers, we’re going to be seeing a lot less content on YouTube from awesome people who either face losing all their money and move to Twitch or Vimeo, or changing their personality and content completely to conform. And why would they have to do the latter? And again, you can’t blame YouTube for this as they have no right to tell the advertisers who to monetize.
What’s even more hypocritical is the fact that this is being driven by the advertisers. I can understand that you wouldn’t want to be associated with cancerous content promoting a lot of negative and sometimes illegal acts, but look at what we see on television. If we’re not watching kids’ shows, we’re watching something that will fall into the categories above. Funny right? These advertisers have such a problem putting their product(s) out on TV, but when it comes to screwing over online content creators who put their life and love into the website and built communities within it, suddenly, there are moral issues involved.
There is some good about these changes though. One, the extermination of the prank channels and attention gluttons. Just to give you guys unfamiliar with these some perspective: Prank channels usually have tags completely unrelated to the video, so when you finish watching something random, the type of videos you see in your suggested feed include: “TERRORIST PUBLIC ISIS BOMB PRANK (GONE WRONG (GONE SEXUAL (IN THE HOOD))) HILARIOUS!!!!” with thumbnails that always objectify women and have nothing to do with the video. The community calls it “clickbait” for a reason.
Then there are the gluttons who make money off of stealing other people’s content and “reacting” to said content, basically reposting without a single facial expression, make videos that will obviously attract a lot of hate and views, and then the people who get their money covering controversial concepts and deaths of people whom they don’t care about, but know if they join the bandwagon early, they can get more cash than the ones who get on late.
Another good thing about this that no one has to even worry about this (to an extent) even if their content contributes to those said above. YouTube isn’t actually taking away monetization permanently. They’re basically just warning the content creator that their video does not meet their terms of service which may not appease the advertisers or in other words, not advertiser friendly, which makes it easier to appeal, then get their videos re-monetized if the advertisers choose to do so. So stop with the #youtubeisoverparty.
The scary thing is if YouTube gets pressured to really crack down on swearing and profanity. If a lot of the advertisers don’t like that, then a lot, and I emphasize, a lot of content creators are screwed.
Honestly this whole thing just seems very petty, yet understandable. A business would not want to be associated with said rules above, but political doesn’t make sense. Videos concerning overcoming suicide and depression which fall under political have been deemed advertiser unfriendly, and those types of videos help people. The platform is a place where anyone can make a good living out of simply sharing their ideas, whether it’d be skits, or video gaming, or tutorials, or anything that has to do with self-expression. Not only that but anyone can get tens to millions of fans with similar beliefs, building communities. Depending on how harshly YouTube will crack down, these awesome people basically may lose their jobs if they don’t produce content that won’t trigger the advertisers who can’t handle someone else’s opinion or the way they carry themselves, and that form of bullying shouldn’t be allowed on a platform based on free expression.
Also, just keep in mind that not every advertiser is going to stop funding and not every content creator is breaking the rules. Most of the content creators can simply appeal the claim and continue on like normal. I really don’t even see the correlation between content creator and advertisers because we come for the content creator and spam left click to skip the ad as it plays or groan if it’s un-skippable. I laugh as I write this but advertisers should realize that most people don’t even watch their ads unless it’s a good one, because we don’t care. And why would anyone make the correlation that the advertiser is supporting cancerous content just by having an ad there? That’s not how it works, advertisers.
The only real solution is to get external advertisers, not through YouTube, if YouTube advertisers have stopped funding.
Written by Nifa Kaniga