YouTubers in uproar as site penalises edgy content

Video streaming giant YouTube has once again infuriated a number of its biggest stars by withholding advertising revenue.

The exact causes of this most recent uproar remain a little ambiguous. A number of names have exploded on social media after being informed by YouTube that advertising had been blocked on some of their content for contravening content guidelines relating to advertiser-friendly practise.

Specifically, content in ad supported videos can be flagged up for a number of reasons, although the ones in question appear to be swearing (inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language”) and controversial topics or sensitive subjects.

Why would such content be a problem? Because advertisers are by default associating themselves with such behaviour and content when linked to it on YouTube. So it’s no surprise that brands will want to have a say in what content they are being presented alongside.

The big problem here, as it often is with YouTube, is the lack of transparency. You’d think that YouTubers who have willingly been accepting the ad dollars of big brands for years would understand that said brands would want an element of control over what that are associating themselves with.

Getting in bed with corporate multinational Google means adhering to corporate multinational standards. This is not ‘censorship’, as is being claimed. It’s the mechanics of marketing in action. These mechanics should, however, be clearly explained and governed by a transparent system.

YouTube has claimed that there hasn’t been a policy change as such, and that it is only the notification system that has been altered. Previously the only way of knowing if a video had been unmonetised was by manually checking. Now, however, content creators are being informed.

It’s not yet known whether these penalties are being handed out by an automated system along the lines of the music copyright Content ID schemes or are instead being handled by a staffed investigation team. Nor is it known whether backpay will be received for time lost on any bans that are successfully appealed.

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