UPDATE: YouTube Just Started A War With Its Vloggers

The updated version of this Sept. 2 post more fully explains YouTube's policy and corrects the impression that YouTube sent a memo to vloggers announcing the policy. It does send emails to vloggers YouTube has demonetized for guideline infractions. But the guidelines are not new. 

Whoa, did YouTube step into it!

YouTube began reminding vloggers that it has the right to essentially de-monetize their videos if they violate YouTube’s ridiculous “advertiser-friendly” content policy,

And then, it turned out, some mega-popular vloggers found out YouTube had already been enforcing that de-monetizing policy without telling them.

Lots of YouTubers are most, most unhappy, rightfully angered that YouTube is, seemingly arbitrarily, judging some YouTube videos based on extraordinarily inexact criteria.

Here, from the YouTube guidelines, are examples of “content that is considered ‘not advertiser-friendly’ (but not limited to):

  • advertisement


    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”

That is a broad list, and fundamentally comes from the wrong point of view.

And arbitrary? Oh my god, yes. A couple days ago, PewDiePie, the most-subscribed to YouTuber in history, ranted, with no lack of f-bombs, about a false Twitter post in which an imposter posing as Sky News said he had joined ISIS. “Social media has gone full retard!” he said in his most recent video describing the events that followed.  In just the first two or three minutes of that video, PewDiePie violated rules about violent extremism, controversial subjects, war, political conflict, and of course, profane and vulgar language

But my PewDiePie video played with a commercial ahead of it, and a strip ad stitched into the frame of the ad, even as others were basically having their piggy banks frozen.

Hugely popular vlogger Philip DeFranco has been the most articulate, and outraged, by this YouTube enforcement. “You never know when your platform will turn on you,” he tweeted a couple days ago.

DeFranco’s vlogs are almost always political/cultural, often screeds about political correctness/ He had been informed he had been “de-monetized” for several, impossible-to-discern offenses.

Usually, he calls his followers “beautiful bastards” but he explained in a vlog, “I don’t think I can call you beautiful bastards anymore because apparently that, and several other things I do, are not, quote, ‘advertiser friendly.’ “

But what the what? DeFranco posted on Twitter, “I’m confused because my content isn’t ad friendly, but ‘Syrian Boy Covered In Own Blood’ is. . . “ a reference to a CNN YouTube video post of that recent sad young war victim gazing, in shock, while sitting in the back of an ambulance.

Before you argue back that YouTube has every right to do what it is, haphazardly, doing, you’ll get no argument. It’s always been their right and YouTube is now just making it clearer.

In a statement, YouTube said.  "While ourpolicy of demonetizing videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn’t changed, we’ve recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication to our creators. Only 1% of partner videos have ever been demonetized by our advertiser-friendly content guidelines. And now, any creator can appeal."

The most famous video content censors, of course, are the broadcast networks that have a rich and silly history of it. But broadcast networks are regulated by the FCC and usually, networks program standards were written to stop offensive or too-controversial content from offending the public, not to satisfy, specifically, advertisers.  

Many times that’s one and the same but judging what is acceptable to “the public” leaves a lot more room than a content policy that is based on what’s “advertiser friendly,” a weasley phrase that directly implies subjectivity and an eagerness to sell out, with no boundary to how far friendliness goes.

And how far does that go?

“YouTube's new update means ads are disabled on my acne videos because advertisers don't like it. Seriously,”  tweeted vlogger Melanie Murphy, who had two of her beauty vlogs demonetized. DeFranco, by the way, now counted up 40 that YouTube has picked on.

By one estimate, YouTube will haul in $5 billion in advertising in 2016. It’s been going up a billion a year since at least 2013. It has no good reason to act like a start-up desperate for folding money. The Twitter hashtag about all this is called, tellingly, #YouTubeOverParty.

To put a positive spin on it, YouTube is proving its capacity for engagement,. It's like the introduction of New Coke  The fans are engaged, and angry.

1 comment about "UPDATE: YouTube Just Started A War With Its Vloggers".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. J S from Ideal Living Media, September 2, 2016 at 9:13 p.m.

    According to some vloggers, the distinction between acceptable videos and de-monitized ones is primarily based on tags.

    So, using any of those controversial tags could pull advertising from a video.

Next story loading loading..