Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 12 years you’ll know that YouTube has dominated the internets video-sharing market since it was first launched in 2005. Over it’s time YouTube has transformed from a website that hosted funny cat videos to a platform that thousands of people have used to create careers out of video content creation. The website’s videos cover topics from do-it-yourself tutorials, makeup gurus, movie reviews, political commentary, comedy, short films, and even a growing ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) community. And while YouTube has provided its creators with an incredible video-sharing platform, as advertisers become more influential in the company’s profits, YouTube’s protection of its creators is clearly lacking.
Creators’ videos being demonetised is one of the major issues for YouTube creators. In October this year one of the platforms biggest flogging stars, Casey Neistat, made a video in which he announced a GoFundMe fundraiser in wake of the Las Vegas shooting. In this video, Neistat announced that all the money he would earn from AdSense on the video would go straight to the GoFundMe, however, this video was later demonetised by Youtube. He called out YouTube on twitter stating that a video “where [he states that] all Adsense is going to that charity … youtube says [it is] NOT SUITABLE FOR ADVERTISERS”. In response, the video-sharing platform stated that “no matter the intent, [YouTubes] policy is to not run ads on videos about tragedies”.
YouTube had another demonetisation issue earlier this year when they went on to demonetise videos with “controversial subject matter”. This was aimed at removing videos that promoted terrorism, radicalisation, and child exploitation. This came after the ‘AdPocalypse’ in which many advertisers pulled out from YouTube because some ads were being used in videos which promoted racism, sexism, terrorism, and extremism. The move though ended up with many creators, particularly those in the LGBTQ+ community with many questions and demonetised videos. Many LGBTQ+ creators who had content in which their relationships and queer experience was discussed were demonetised, while content that discussed heterosexual relationships were left alone.
Within YouTube’s demonetisation algorithm, videos based on tags and certain words within titles, as well as swearing, ‘shocking’ and ‘sensational’ and sensitive content, are all flagged. Some LGBTQ+ creators also had their content put on restricted mode, meaning only registered youtube users over the age of 18 were able to view their content.
When a video is posted to YouTube it will get the most traffic within the first 24 to 48 hours it is posted. If a video is demonetised within this time the creator will lose the revenue they earned. Even if the content is reviewed by YouTube and remonetised after, the creator still loses a substantial amount of the small earnings they receive from AdSense. This is why YouTube needs to protect and support their creators so that they can continue to make content.
While YouTube is trying to expand itself, the video-sharing website still needs to make sure their smaller creators are able to profit off their content. Their effort to combat radicalisation on their platform is admirable, but they must adjust their approach to make sure they don’t self-sabotage. YouTube creators are what keep the website going. They continue to bring their loyal audiences to the website creating revenue and traffic for the platform. The first step to doing this is to review their demonetisation policy & process. They need to create a manual process that addresses the issues that do need to be demonetised and taken down. Flagging words such as lesbian, gay, and transgender, exclude a huge amount of content on the platform that shouldn’t be restricted or demonetised.
With YouTubers relying on audience donation through websites like Patreon, and brands sponsoring videos the need for YouTube to step up and fix their AdSense system is growing. Online content continues to grow rapidly every day and if YouTube doesn’t revise their demonetisation policy they’ll lose their creators and audiences to other platforms.