YouTube Censorship Grows

Back to Article
Back to Article

YouTube Censorship Grows

Pixabay

Pixabay

Pixabay

Lillian, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






YouTube has been one of the most popular websites since the tech giant, Google, bought it in 2006 for more than one billion dollars. Ever since the inception of the video sharing site, the whole selling point was the ‘You’ in YouTube. Anyone could upload almost anything as long as it stayed within the loose guidelines set by Google. Communities formed around content that would have never existed without the people who joined around this website. From this we saw the rise of some of the most influential internet personalities, seemingly coming from out of the blue. Magically, some kid making videos by themselves could become a brand that ends up making thousands of dollars. Fred, a popular comedy channel, signed a deal with Nickelodeon in 2009 and made multiple movies, as well as appearing in the TV show iCarly. Justin Bieber rose to real life stardom through YouTube when records found him covering songs. In early 2010’s, YouTube had its creators’ backs. Connecting personally with their  creators with studios and awarding ‘play buttons’- a kind of trophy- to the most subscribed channels.

But over the years, YouTube has been criticized by creators for how it’s changing. Big companies who have been paying for advertisements on YouTube now hold a lot of power over the site, and Google has been forced to buckle under the pressure as the dubbed ‘Ad-pocalypse’ continues. ‘Ad-pocalypse’ is a term used to describe the scandals have resulted in advertisers pulling from     YouTube, decreasing the revenue of those who make videos for a job after an infamous incident involving one of the top creators releasing a video that included anti-semitic jokes. Soon after these events in 2016 YouTube has been tightening it’s restrictions, and once profitable channels aimed at adults can barely scrape by. As this pressure has increased from news outlets lying about the sites biggest star, PewDiePie, Google has had no choice. But have they gone too far?

New information has come to light on how YouTube might be scrubbing itself clean of channels that might be a bit too ‘edgy’, meme and adult humored content, by giving them channel strikes on videos that aren’t even publicly released. Channel strikes are very serious for creators. They restrict how long their videos can be, if they can livestream, and after three can even delete their whole channel. Imagine your source of income, job, connection to community, is deleted overnight without a whisper of warning. And not only that, but it’s for videos you posted almost a decade ago.

One creator that is afraid of this is RustyCage, a creator who caught a bit of viral fame seven years ago with his ‘knife game’ videos. He stated that these videos, massing about 80 million views, would have to be taken down if he got another strike on his channel. His first strike was given to him when a commentary on how the ‘Knife Song’ videos were made was terminated. None of these videos break the community guidelines. Even if they did, taking them down after they have been up for such a long time is ludicrous. Even with an updated community guidelines policy, Rusty and many others argue that the deletion of videos that were posted under old policies should not result in a strike and channel deletion, since they were fine until the updates. Just like how when a law is made, a person who broke that law before it was made doesn’t get punished. That’s what YouTube is effectively doing when they harm Rusty’s channel.

As Rusty was forced into a corner by YouTube, he commented on the state Google was putting it in. “As YouTube continues to destroy their website by watering down and over sanitizing the content users are allowed to have uploaded, channels like mine will start to disappear.” A scary thought for the many who depend on the company for their living.

But this isn’t just theoretical. MumkeyJones, a creator making adult comedy videos, raised the alarm bells when he had his channel completely removed from the website. All attempts he has made to make another channel has been met with a swift take down, effectively banning him from YouTube entirely. With a fairly large channel of 300,000 subscribers, he received a contact from the company to help him with problems. Unfortunately, he has heard no response, despite his efforts. His job is gone with no way to get it back, and he was given no warning. The scariest part is that all three strikes happened in one day. In one day, his channel was terminated. Even his backup channel received the same treatment. Three strikes on both, and both were deleted on the same day.

This points in the direction of a coordinated attack by    YouTube to censor a creator that made adult content they didn’t like. The strongest evidence points at one of the strikes that resulted in his termination, was an unlisted video with zero views that he had posted as a test for just himself.

Mumkey argues none of the videos that terminated him even had any material that broke guidelines, and again, shouldn’t have been up for so long before being all removed in one day, effectively preventing him from saving his channel by deleting offending content. Mumkey felt this had been a long time coming, as like Rusty, many of his videos were first demonetized (Meaning they received no money), before receiving strikes that resulted in the deletion of his channels.

With all of this in mind it would seem that YouTube isn’t concerned with how it’s affecting the people that bring traffic to their site. Looking at how these situations have been handled it looks more like their concern lies with making it as safe as a padded cell so as not to offend ‘Amazon.com’ or ‘Geico’. They’ve been tightening their restrictions ever so slowly, like boiling the frog. The only reason anything was heard about what they’re doing is because some of the channels affected had a dedicated fan base. But what about channels with less influence? Who knows how many small businesses have been removed, channels with only 10,000 subscribers, or even just 1,000?

YouTube’s monopoly of online video content prevents any real resistance, and when they do get push back, they don’t care because there’s no alternative to create an effective protest. When is the last time you watched anything on Vidme, Vimeo, or  DailyMotion? Any other video exclusive site? Chances are you haven’t even heard of any alternatives because they pose no threat to Google. At this point the only thing that can save YouTube and its content creators is competition that would force them to improve. But until then, remember to smash that like button, subscribe, and I’ll see you in the next PCH school newspaper.