Youtube’s monetization policy sparks outrage

On Thursday September 2, the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty began to trend on Twitter. To anyone unfamiliar with how Twitter works, any hashtag with the words “IsOverParty” is a negative backlash to something unfavorable; in this case, the hashtag targeted the popular video sharing site with the slogan “Broadcast Yourself.” However, after the hashtag started to trend, the public wondered if this slogan was relevant to the brand anymore.

The backlash happened due to the recent change in YouTube’s monetization policy, which states that if creators include any sexually suggestive content, violence, inappropriate language, promotion of drugs and regulated substances, or controversial or sensitive subjects, no ads will be played before that content, in order to keep the video “advertiser friendly.” This applies to any video, new or old, that contains even small tags or evidence of these topics. In other words, companies don’t want their products advertised on inappropriate videos, as it could damage the reputation of the brand. For many channels, this means a loss of income, which concerns many creators who make YouTube videos for a living. After the change, many channels, fans, and news outlets began to call the new change “censorship,” and many content creators began to comment on whether or not they would continue to use the site.

graphic by Helen Schrayer

Philip DeFranco, a YouTuber with almost 5 million subscribers, has been making a living off of his videos for six years and uploads videos every day, describing current national and international events. Some of his most popular videos include shootings and terrorist attacks, abuse scandals, and in-depth explanations of daily news stories. He has made several videos describing how YouTube had taken monetization off 12 of his videos in one day. He also tweeted, “@PhillyD This is what happens when corporations cater to SJW’s, platforms become ruined and freedom of speech evaporates. Very sad to see.” It was unclear what DeFranco would do next, considering how he starts his videos with a profane phrase and that almost all of his content contains sensitive and controversial topics. He eventually said on Twitter, “I’m not going to censor myself.”

More controversy began to spark when Luke Cutforth, another YouTuber with about 600,000 subscribers, tweeted a picture of one of his videos that was demonetized. The video was about his depression, how he handled it, and how to help others with depression. He stated, “Sorry depression isn’t pretty enough…” in a tweet on August 31.

Another YouTuber by the name of Melanie Murphy, who has over 400,000 subscribers, had some of her content demonetized due to graphic content. Her videos were mostly about her acne, what she used to treat it, and how to help young people with acne feel comfortable with who they are. She also tweeted, “YouTube’s new update means ads are disabled on my acne videos because advertisers don’t like it. Seriously @YouTube?”

The new update had caused many YouTubers to believe YouTube was being run by their advertisers, not the other way around. If the ads were there to support YouTube, they wondered, then why would YouTube change its standards for those of advertisers?

In response to DeFranco, YouTube explained that, “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.”

In other words, YouTube has been using this technique all along. The difference now is that YouTube will notify creators when their videos have been stripped of monetization, whereas previously there was no way for a creator to tell if a video was still gaining profit. The fact that a YouTuber could receive millions of views on a video and not get paid for any of it seemed to top the concerns of the new policy, making people focus on how much money they lose.

As of now, YouTube essentially has a monopoly on the video-sharing market, forcing most creators to deal with the changes that have been made. Moving forward, broadcasting yourself will now have to be a thing of the past, while broadcasting what’s “okay” with advertisers will be a thing of the future.

 

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