YouTube policy changes may affect creators

Lisa Herdman

YouTube users may see a stark change in the content from some of the top users on the website after recent changes in user policy.

YouTube, LLC made changes to its user agreement policy Aug. 26, particularly the requirements for users to gain money through advertisements featured by the website when a user is a YouTube Partner.

The change allows the website to take down videos if explicit or contradictory content is featured and the user is being paid by ad revenue on YouTube. Regular users will not be affected by this change, but YouTube Partners may lose funding or have older videos taken down.

The website states under “Advertiser controls” that “if we receive a complaint from an advertiser whose ad served against your video, we reserve the right to disable monetization on your video if we determine that it did not meet our policy guidelines.” 

The website goes on to say, “depending on the nature of the policy violation, videos can be removed from the site or age-restricted,” as well as “monetization is disabled on age-restricted videos and Google will immediately stop serving ads on these videos.”

Most YouTubers rely on AdSense, another one of Google’s services that pays bloggers and YouTubers to run ads over their content. This is the service that will no longer serve content creators that go against the policy change. 

Other, more well-known YouTubers have special contracts and sponsorships aside from AdSense that will not be affected should they choose to disobey the policy change. 

Users that make a living off of channel views and advertising may not be able to make a livable wage.

Ethan Lagahid, freshman business major and Youtube user NameisEthanL, said that he thinks there are two sides to it. He feels as if this endeavor is a good business move for YouTube and Google, but on the other side, creators are not allowed to be themselves.

“I’m not making money off of AdSense, at all, because I just started,” Lagahid said. “I’m saying the people who are getting into the big leagues, won’t be able to make money [anymore] if they cuss, if they have any sexual innuendos or if they talk about the news. It really all depends on who is watching the regulations, and who is watching these videos and determining that there’s a piece in there that you can’t monetize.”

Lagahid said that he was watching a video of Philip DeFranco, who is known for being one of the first popular presences to come from YouTube. His YouTube channel is dedicated to sharing his opinions in a satirical manner over topics such as current events, politics, pop culture and celebrity gossip. 

When DeFranco talked about current news in a video, that video got demonetized. One thing that DeFranco pointed out is that CNN, which has their own YouTube channel, can monetize videos that have political and controversial issues, while DeFranco cannot.

This could also mean that popular YouTube users like Pewdiepie and Markiplier may lose funding for having explicit language in their videos, or mentioning topics that may be offensive to the public. This could lead to less traffic to channels or even the complete demolition of a channel.

Multiple users have made videos offering responses to this change, including Philip DeFranco, chiding YouTube for making a change and discussing the repercussions.

“This is incredibly [expletive] concerning,” Defranco said. “Many times on my show I have to talk about things that aren’t great, just horrible things. By taking away monetization, it is a form of censorship, taking away the ability to monetize because what we are saying is being deemed as ‘not okay.’ It seems that by covering the real, raw news story and not watering it down, I got in trouble.”

DeFranco also discussed how the change is taking away rights that YouTube creators once had, as well as some confusions.

“This is just censorship with a different name, because if you do this on the regular with no advertising, it’s not sustainable,” DeFranco said. “What really bugs me about this is that it was either a purposeful move that they did not give creators a heads-up on, because I’ve seen a ton of people complaining on it, or [YouTube executives] are just asleep at the wheel.” 

Alternatively, DeFranco spoke positively, saying that he will still be able to make money because of the fans that buy his merchandise and spend their money on Patreon to show their support for him. 

In a video published by DeFranco the following day, he claims he was issued the following statement from YouTube: “While our policy of demonetizing videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn’t changed, we’ve recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication.”

DeFranco’s original confusions didn’t seem to be cleared up by this statement.

“Based off of my conversations, it seems that they have been demonetizing videos like this for awhile, it’s just that they didn’t go out of their way to tell you; you had to go deeper in your analytics to see that it was happening.

He continued to express his concerns, acknowledging that for several months, many videos had been getting blacklisted and having their ads removed. The user being effected likely didn’t even know about the occurrences. 

If this is the case, then for months YouTube users have had their videos falsely demonetized, which was causing them to lose ad revenue, and up until this change was made, the creator could go through the appeal process for their videos. 

DeFranco then questioned how much money creators had unknowingly lost due to this issue.

YouTube’s demonetization of its users still holds plenty of controversy and confusion. Many users may find their primary source of income is no longer viable, while others may vie for special sponsorship deals that allow them to generate content unhinged by policy and financial restraints. 

In general, the playing field for the world’s largest and most influential video platform has just changed dramatically and its user-base’s reaction will determine the medium’s future viability.