YouTube accused of censorship as monetisation policies stay the same
James R | On 02, Sep 2016
YouTube has been accused of censorship by vloggers, despite the site’s content policy not having changed.
Yesterday, creators with videos on YouTube began to receive notifications from the site saying that their content was not suitable for monetisation. Reasons given varied, but incorporated anything that was deemed to be breaking its content guidelines, which say that only suitable videos are deemed advertiser-friendly.
Philip DeFranco sparked a major debate of the issue, publishing a video titled “YouTube Is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What To Do”. In it, he said that the policy is “censorship with a different name”.
However, YouTube’s policy is the same as it always has been. The only thing that YouTube has changed is the way it notifies users that their content is deemed inappropriate for advertisers, which it says is to make the system more transparent. Due to this change, a whole host of users began receiving emails notifying them that certain videos were barred from making money through YouTube’s ad service.
@PhillyD No policy change here; just an improved notification process to ensure creators can appeal: https://t.co/mlfpbBvacg
— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) September 1, 2016
According to YouTube, ad-friendly content is “appropriate for all audiences” and has “little to no inappropriate or mature content in the video stream, thumbnail, or metadata (such as in the video title)”.
“If the video does contain inappropriate content, the context is usually newsworthy or comedic and the creator’s intent is to inform or entertain (not offend or shock),” notes the site.
Content that is not advertiser-friendly includes sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity, violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism, inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language, and 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,” are also included in videos deemed inappropriate for advertising.
“If any of the above describes any portion of your video, then the video may not be approved for monetization. If monetization is approved, your video may not be eligible for all available ad formats. YouTube reserves the right to not monetize a video, as well as suspend monetization features on channels that repeatedly submit videos violating our policies.”
High-profile creators such as Hank Green, though, spoke out about the range of content being deemed non-ad-friendly.
The Vlogbrothers probably got the most hilarious demonetization notice. Shows the variety of content affected. pic.twitter.com/lRrGkN5HSY
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) September 1, 2016
Other tweets were more amusing in their outrage.
what the future of youtube is going to look like #YouTubeIsOverParty pic.twitter.com/7FCZlrpvpR
— Arthur | Lady Gaga (@Arthur_Gaga) September 1, 2016
DeFranco argued that the policy means that if “you do this on the regular, and you have no advertising, it’s not sustainable”. This, though, places YouTube vloggers not in a disadvantaged position, but in the same bracket as many artists and creators, whether they be indie filmmakers or TV talents.
Unlike mainstream media, YouTube still gives people a way to publish their views and videos online for free without censorship, but like more traditional broadcast outlets, it is also taking greater steps to be clear about what can and cannot be used to make money – steps that are intended to reinforce YouTube’s status as a major, maturing media hub for professionals. Individual cases are far from black and white, though, so creators will be hoping YouTube’s aim for greater transparency will also extend to negotiations on each video deemed ineligible.