You’ll have seen recently that some YouTube heavyweights have been popping off on social media. Many have been expressing their outrage with the video platform and it’s led to the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty. So what exactly led to this dramatic declaration?
It all begins with YouTuber Philip DeFranco. I had never heard of the name but a YouTuber with a subscriber base of over 4.5m deserves some modicum of respect. He announced, through a video, that he was receiving numerous alerts from YouTube of videos that were deemed not advertiser friendly and thus were losing their monetisation status. You can watch the full video below.
Understandably so, his frustration spilled over on to Twitter and soon after, countless other YouTubers became involved, citing their own alerts from YouTube stating the same thing. The community response was unanimous in condemnation of YouTube and those behind the decision. There were cries of censorship and YouTube trying to undermine the “anti-SJW” movement. GamerGate even reared its head, with some of its proponents announcing that the video giant was actively working against it.
the new YouTube guidelines look like a tumblr post written by a 13 year old who gets offended by toothpaste #YouTubeIsOverParty
— alice❄️ (@abysshowell) September 1, 2016
It's gonna be a super bright future. Now I have to worry about the future of everything I do. pic.twitter.com/oebTAR63J6
— Rob Dyke (@TheRobDyke) September 1, 2016
— Boogie2988 (@Boogie2988) September 1, 2016
The Reality Check
Despite the strong response from content creators and the community alike, YouTube insists their Terms of Service (ToS) haven’t changed, only how they notify channels. Kotaku received this response when contacting YouTube:
While our policy of demonetizing videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn’t changed, we’ve recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication.
A look at their ToS clearly outlines why certain videos are being flagged by them. What many don’t understand is why YouTube is enforcing rules that negatively affect a large number of channels, especially those in the gaming scene. So the question begs to be asked; why would YouTube hurt some of its biggest content creators? Advertisers.
YouTube has a massive amount of traffic, in terms of the number of people that access its website, on any given day. For brands looking to advertise, this is hugely attractive and is what makes YouTube so lucrative. However, brands are very cognisant of the fact that having their brand associated with controversy or content that isn’t aligned with its values is bad for business. What’s bad for business is bad for YouTube.
When a brand sees itself being advertised on a video that has rampant swearing, sexually suggestive content or violence, they’ll absolutely flag that with YouTube. Even a brand like Playboy had to retune its image after it was deemed too sexual for most advertisers. They polished up their look and their content grew up, making them more appealing to advertisers.
Others also suggest that drama channels are a big reason that YouTube is enforcing its ToS. Drama channels are run by people that scour the internet for controversial issues and gossip and package it into an episode for everyone to pour over the intimate details of other people’s lives. It leaves a stain on YouTube’s reputation in much the same way that blatantly racist subreddits give Reddit a bad name. And just like in Reddit’s case, this makes the overall platform of YouTube less appealing to advertisers.
So really, it all comes down to money and with that, it’s completely understandable for YouTube to be clamping down on what it deems advertiser-unfriendly content. All the anger around their ToS is moot in any case, since according to YouTube nothing’s changed except that they’re being more upfront about what they’re flagging. What content creators really should be upset about is YouTube’s poor communication.
Why are content creators only now being notified of videos that can no longer be monetised? Were previous videos not making money and YouTube just didn’t inform the creator? Why did YouTube not inform the public, or at least content creators, beforehand that these notification changes were coming?
YouTube is certainly hurting many of its content creators and thus itself, but in other ways it’s also cleaning up its act for advertisers which benefits the platform more in the long run. Suggesting that its ToS are only there to protect a SJW or PC agenda is rather naïve and shows a lack of understanding of how businesses work and how they make money.
At the end of the day, YouTube will carry on and content creators will learn to adapt or not make revenue.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Critical Hit as an organisation.
Last Updated: January 4, 2017