By Ellise Shafer, ’17
In late August 2016, the news broke that YouTube— the largest free video-sharing platform in the world— is demonetizing videos that contain content deemed “unfriendly for advertisers”.
This is something that YouTube has been doing since June, just without letting YouTube creators know. In August, however, they adopted a new transparency policy in which YouTube emails creators when their videos are demonetized, as well as their reason for the action.
In the context of YouTube, demonetizing means to strip videos of advertising that contain inappropriate content. This means that YouTubers have been losing possible ad revenue due to the amount of times they use swear words in a video or if they discuss touchy subjects such as rape or drug and alcohol use.
Freshman Grayson Cook, a longtime YouTube watcher and newly established creator, finds this extremely frustrating.
“[Making videos] is a lot of [creators’] jobs. They make money from ad revenue and because of this it’s going to be even harder for them,” Cook said. “Especially the people who struggle already with [ad revenue], like I know a lot of people who only make a couple cents off of it, and they have to work a bunch of part time jobs to try to be able to pay bills and put food on the table.”
Needless to say, many creators were enraged to learn of the demonetization. However, in the aftermath of this controversy, not much has been done to challenge the policy.
“I haven’t seen anyone fighting back about it or doing anything about it. I know people have definitely complained,” Cook said. “But it is a Google company and Google is very huge so I wouldn’t want to get a lawsuit against them.”
This change has triggered what many call a “fake” side to YouTube, with unoriginal videos and flashy “clickbait” titles.
Youtuber Tana Mongeau is one of the few trying to counteract this recent movement, specifically with the creation of a collab channel entitled “Trash”. Mongeau herself has two million subscribers on the platform.
“I never want to come across perfect and I feel like a lot of Youtubers as they get bigger, they start to fit this ideal of like ‘I’m a celebrity and I’m perfect now’,” Mongeau said in one of the first videos posted to the “Trash” channel. “I always want to be who I was from the beginning and I think that ‘Trash’ is such a cool embodiment of that. I want to give awesome, dope, real individuals a chance.”
However, creator Edwin Costa, who was 50,000 subscribers, doesn’t see the demonetization as such a big deal.
“I personally don’t find the ordeal so major. I believe they just added an algorithm to videos with certain words to trigger demonetization, but still allow an appeal process,” Costa said. “People felt censored because they were demonetized on videos concerning topics like rape or drugs which were not actually offensive or controversial. It’s unfortunate for genuine vloggers or people covering sensitive subject matter, but we must continue to adapt since Youtube is still the best free platform for video sharing.”
Cook agrees with Costa, stating that the demonetization has not held him back from starting up his own channel.
“I plan to keep posting videos,” Cook said. “For now, I just want to have fun and do what I want to do and a lot of [creators] have given me the inspiration to do that.”