YouTube content creators can kiss free speech and righteous self-expression goodbye with the arrival of the platform’s new terms of service for video monetization.
On August 31, the online video giant published an updated policy that prohibits the publication of suggestive humor, controversial issues like war and politics, portrayal of drug use, and any content that could be considered profane or inappropriate under any circumstance. High school girls subscribed to makeup tutorial channels or moms who love kitty videos don’t need to worry about the removal of their favorite clips, but artists whose work contains curse words, depiction of violence, or partial nudity are bound to have their videos banned.
15-second advertisements are found at the beginning of popular YouTubers’ videos, and even though they’re most likely to be skipped three seconds in, the account owner is able to generate a lot of income from the playback of ads. With the new rules, however, not only will advertisements be unable to be added to the videos, but the clips will also be taken down entirely, leaving its users with no convenient outlet for creativity or a good moneymaker.
Besides Justin Bieber’s and Rihanna’s VEVO channels, the most popular YouTube accounts deal with sensitive subjects like sex and naughty humor and most contain revealing content or at least inappropriate language. This means that channels with millions of subscribers and web sensations with billions of views could potentially be kicked off the site. And YouTube user revenue will be cut flat. Some of the site’s stars such as Philip DeFranco, Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers, Luna, and Sam King are all in outrage that their best content is becoming demonetized.
DeFranco tweeted, “Seems like YouTube will be stripping most of my advertising from now on. Oh well. I’m not going to censor myself,” choosing to keep some of his videos for the price of collecting any revenue.
Making light of the situation, Sam King similarly tweeted yesterday, “Sorry guys there’s no new video tomorrow, I accidentally said the word ‘moist’ and I’m scared YouTube police will kill me.”
These users are receiving notices with the warning, “Your video isn’t being monetized because it contains content that might not be appropriate for advertising,” with a further list of possible offenses: illustration or allusion to graphic content, excess strong language, sexually suggestive content, and controversial or sensitive subjects and events including political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies.
Although YouTube is masking its prohibition of certain content under the veil of desired ‘ad-friendliness,’ the site’s stars believe it’s a form of censorship and are uncertain why the platform is stripping away rights of self-expression now, in 2016, after the platform has hosted this brand of content for over a decade. Vloggers now are left especially unsure what to do for a job in the near future. According to the New York Times, a YouTube star (one with at least 3-7 million subscribers) can generate an average of $190,000 on a single promotion.
In an interview with Vox, DeFranco stated that he’s upset that he’s no longer able to publish videos for any income but understands the new policy.
“When you take away monetization for a Youtube channel, you make the channel unsustainable to run as a full time job,” he said. “Especially when it appears that the implementation of removing monetization is scattered and not hitting all Youtube channels equally. That said, I understand it is 100 percent their right to do this.”
DeFranco’s placated outlook on the issue, however, deviates from the bitter attitudes of other web sensations whose work is getting cut. Ideas for further ways to create an ad-friendly site without endorsing censorship are being thrown out there into the virtual world, but the platform has yet to hint at any better option. In the meantime, content creators are holding on tight and hoping YouTube’s policy changes are flexible and won’t push them off the site for good.