YouTube (the behemoth video website and subsidiary of Google [GOOG]) has been the home for many of the world’s at-home entertainment for years. At its inception, YouTube was a simple video sharing website where people can host their video content on the web. The idea caught on eventually when the first ever viral videos made their way to the young website, and content creators like Smosh began to make creative videos on the website.
Going from 2005, YouTube became a major hub of videos of all types and it saw a very large audience flocking to its service everyday to enjoy an array of content from an even larger array of uploaders/channels. And it is only natural for a new leader of a market to attract the attention of large companies like Google, who bought the company in 2006 for $1.65 billion in stock. And much like anything Google touches (well, almost everything), YouTube became great. It is great, and has been great since its inception.
With the what seems somewhat successful YouTube Red, and the plethora of advertisers and high-quality content creators, YouTube has had many successful quips under its name (even though it still doesn’t make any money for Google), but it has just an equal amount of not-so popular choices. Choices like these include: the forced Google+ integration, introduction of the buggy content-ID system, and now: the demonetization mechanic.
Now, the demonetization feature isn’t new to YouTube: it has been a part of the website since 2012. It is essentially a system that takes the tags and information of uploaded videos applied for monetization, and will remove their monetization (or deliver less of it) if the video results in being “not advertiser friendly.” However, it wasn’t until about last week that popular YouTuber content creators began to take notice of the system: and that was because YouTube finally began to inform creator’s that the system has edited their video’s advertising state.
You could say the fire of this month’s YouTube drama began with creator Philip DeFranco’s video discussing the demonetization of his videos. From there on, multiple other popular YouTubers made videos regarding the concerns, and many others made videos announcing how this was a form of “censorship.” While the publicity of the system has definitely made many content creator’s upset (and has essentially “screwed” over others in some cases), the question about others stating this as “censorship” is quite a hot topic among the community. What many do not know, however, is this is in fact not a form of censorship, and is just the system applying the guidelines for monetization to videos.
The outcry from creators and their arguments of “censorship” have triggered a factory line of similar videos discussing how someone needs to make a new site like YouTube where “free speech” still reigns supreme. These concerns were acknowledged by video site Vid.me in a humorous trailer playing off of the entire trend. However, what many have not taken into account is the difficulty of managing a service like YouTube, and the fact that the demonetization stands and is not censorship.
As aforementioned, this system simply reduces the targeted ads (or removes them altogether) on videos who include tags that are rather brash, racial, harmful, offensive, etc. Tags such as “sex,” or “death” would be ones that fall subject to the demonetization system. And many popular content creators have published several videos that used tags within these categories once or twice. This isn’t a form of censorship, as the videos will remain online but rather it protects ads from being presented to the wrong audience and ensures quality for those engaged in Google’s Adwords system.
Putting to rest the worries isn’t enough however, as the software for this system is still messed up and many videos that are clean for advertisers will still fall victim: reminiscent of the YouTube Content-ID system. And the fact that it took this long for the company to address the demonetization of a creator’s video truly has no justification on YouTube’s part. At the end of the day, this revelation is much like many in YouTube’s career: where the creators and community discover a flaw, creators are effected, the community is enraged, and then the facts are laid out on the table.
This essentially points YouTube out as a still young and somewhat broken service. It lacks in properly educating its creators on the finer points of its legal terms, and it fails to correctly communicate with the creators that care for the platform. YouTube should strive to improve how it handles its community, and to improve its automated systems.
To learn more about YouTube’s demonetization, check out this write by the Internet Creators Guild.
An original article by Jake Brunton