YouTube Makes It More Difficult To Know Which Channels Monetize Through Ad Revenue

YouTube removed a piece of code last month that allowed users to check which creators on the platform were making money through ad revenue sharing as part of the YouTube Partner Program (YPP), according to a report by Wired.

Now, it will be more difficult for creators and activists to see which channels are being paid out by the popular video-sharing app.

When asked about the missing code, a YouTube spokesperson told Wired that “whether someone is earning ad revenue share is a fact YouTube intends to keep private with the channel owner.”

However, as the report points out, the company’s newfound position on privacy around ad share may have adverse effects.

YouTube creators are now unable to make note of their competitors on the platform, and journalists and regulators will have increasing difficulty tracking bad actors who have been either kicked out of the YPP or continually supported by the exclusive ad-share program.



Perhaps the most blatant example of this issue is comedian and actor Russell Brand's recent suspension from the YPP. In September, the star was reprimanded by YouTube following allegations of rape and sexual assault from several women.

YouTube announced that when creators’ off-platform behavior harms its users, “we take action to protect the community.”

While this may be true, the public will now be less aware when similar suspensions take place. And if YouTube fails to act on similar cases, journalists and watchdogs will need to take extra steps to call out a bad actor.

A source from Ek, an advocacy group that tracks the actions of U.S. corporations, told Wired that the group often used the YPP flag to report on anti-LGBTQ content that was still receiving ad revenue from YouTube, highlighting a common practice among regulators across various focuses.

“I would have to believe that YouTube took out the source code after many civil society groups were using them to corroborate that YouTube was monetizing some of the worst disinformation on the internet,” the source said.

Over 2 million creators currently monetize through the YPP, which pays them up to 55% of ad revenue and a portion of subscription sales.

After expanding advertising to channels outside of the YPP in 2020, the flag became the only way for users to tell which channels were part of the program. Now it is gone.

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