For the past year YouTubers have been trying to navigate a deluge of false copyright claims and a changing algorithm that rewards needlessly-long videos. Now, allegedly, the platform is starting to withhold pay.
For professional or semi-professional YouTubers, monetisation through advertising is almost always their main source of revenue. Exurb1a, MrRepzion, Philip DeFranco—who alone has 4.5 million subscribers and has been on the platform for over a decade—and others have recently made videos claiming YouTube has pulled ads from their videos, citing a new policy.
The Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines are difficult to find, and creators were seemingly not informed they would be taking effect. Like many of the site’s guidelines, the AFCG are so open to interpretation as to be applicable to nearly every channel and situation. Who exactly is determining what constitutes a “controversial or sensitive subject”?
While YouTube are of course free to run its platform as it pleases, it would do well to explain its intentions to creators more clearly.
DeFranco believes his videos were hit for covering news events like Chris Brown’s standoff with police (and for his innocuous tagline “’sup you beautiful bastards.”) MrRepzion’s channel is mostly devoted to mental health and believes dozens of his videos had ads stripped for his earnest discussion of difficult subjects like rape and suicide.
According to a YouTube spokesperson, there has been no policy or enforcement change put in place by the platform. Instead, the outrage expressed by De Franco and others appears to be caused by a chance to notifications. Now YouTubers are receiving emails about videos that have been unmonetised.
In the past, YouTubers would have to go into an individual video’s analytics to see it had been unmonetised by the platform. It seems clear the platform is trying to be more transparent in notifying users through easy-to-see notifications and an appeals process, though it’s galling to think these things weren’t in place already.