In the past few weeks, YouTube has been making headlines with what people have been calling their “new demonetization policies.” These policies are not actually new. They say that YouTube can take away the monetization of certain videos that contain content like excessive violence, profanities, and even videos discussing controversial topics.
The only thing that has changed recently, which spurred this social media frenzy, is the fact that YouTube has a more efficient notification system. Before, the company would demonetize a video and not tell the creator. Now, the creator is sent an email telling them exactly why their videos are not “advertiser-friendly.”
In a video released on August 31, 2016, YouTuber Philip DeFranco talked about what YouTube is exactly doing to YouTubers like him.
“And the thing is, I will say that I love YouTube, obviously. It looks like they are well within their rights to do this. It’s their damn website,” said DeFranco.
He points out that in at least one of his videos that was demonetized, there was no excessive swearing or violence from him, but only the news. “It is also a little bit concerning to me because yesterday’s video, really the only things that were not ‘advertiser-friendly,’ were not really much I said, but the stories I was talking about.”
DeFranco also explained to his viewers, who he calls Beautiful Bastards, that YouTube demonetizing his videos will not kill his channel. He has built up a big enough fanbase that he can go on making videos with the money he is making from merchandise and independent-from-YouTube advertisers. “This is a much bigger situation than me.”
Videos containing “controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown,” are subject to getting demonetized. This has effected a lot of channels who are based around hard news.
Another YouTuber, Casey Neistat gave what he calls “a loose overview,” of what YouTube is doing in a video about a week after DeFranco’s. He explains that if a video is deemed not advertiser friendly, it will get demonetized.
“And even scarier [than the vague terms given by YouTube about being advertiser friendly], there aren’t human beings that work for YouTube determining this one’s good and this one’s bad,” Neistat explains. “It’s all algorithmically filtered. So it’s that algorithm determining whether or not you’re able to make revenue from your videos.”
That’s probably why the more efficient communication makes it easier for YouTubers to appeal the demonetization. Once an appeal is made, a real person watches the video and decides if it is appropriate. A lot of videos, like some of DeFranco’s, are being reinstated with advertisements.
In an article on Forbes.com, the point was made that there are some videos that are still monetized but feature inappropriate content like profanities and news coverage. Some of these videos are DeFranco’s. The reason they are still make money is because they are age-restricted.
My question is why are some videos deemed not appropriate for advertisers at all, but some can feature inappropriate content but not be effected by these policies? I believe that the parameters set by YouTube are too vague and they have been inconsistent with enforcing their policies. The #YouTubeIsOverParty trend that happened, and is still happening on Twitter is definitely an exaggeration, but the topic of censorship is still very important and very relevant.