It is believed that YouTube had released this statement after the complaint from Vox’s StrikeThrough host Carlos Maza who made a complaint to YouTube to de-platform comedian Steven Crowder who uploaded a video debunking one of his video May 29, 2019. The complaint was for harassment and anti-gay contents towards him that he claimed has been going on for years ever since he took the job at Vox. YouTube responded to Maza’s complaint and confirmed that they did not see anything wrong after reviewing all reported contents, other than edgy comments that were offensive but did not violate their TOS.
After this statement was released by YouTube, numbers of channels have been hit with the demonetization purge but the channels remain on the platform, business as usual without revenue earnings which caused the trending hashtag on twitter # Voxadpocolypse. We will continue to cover the purge in a different article. First, let’s get right into the statement and have a better understanding of what YouTube is looking for as appropriate contents that conform to their guidelines for current channels who are partnered for revenues and any small channels looking to profit from their contents on YouTube.
Taking a Harder Look At Harassment
This was the title of their blog post on June 5, 2019, after YouTube had responded to Maza about the complaint and their decision to keep Crowder on the platform, suspended from monetization programs until the specific task has been corrected on Crowder’s end. The task is to take down the link to his Tshirt that reads “Socialism is for Figs”, which Maza assumed it was the inflammatory F word that is used as a slur to describe a member of the LGBTQ group. This was one of the cases that Maza was upset about. Besides the T-shirt, YouTube also mentioned that Crowder needs to fix some of his videos in order to be eligible for reinstatement of the monetization program. YouTube nor Crowder have released a statement on which videos they were, so this is a private matter between the two parties. Of course, the YouTube creator community would love to know this especially since it will give creators an idea of what to expect to avoid becoming a victim of the purge.
Although some viewers do not believe that this statement or the purge was the resolution YouTube had to fix the conflict between Crowder and Maza, even though they mentioned it in their blog post, people speculated that the complaint from Maza was the trigger that YouTube has been planning on pulling for a while.
The blog went on to say that the platform has removed tens of thousands of videos and accounts that violated their policies on cyberbullying and harassment in the first quarter of 2019 and YouTube is doing their best to update their policies to keep up with current problems. One of the problems that YouTube has been facing with is creator-on-creator harassment which they had addressed on April 30, 2019.
YouTube’s fight to protect the community from harmful contents has four pillars that they focus on: removing violative content, raising up authoritative content, reducing the spread of borderline content and rewarding trusted creators. Let’s look at YouTube’s definition of these pillars.
It is not news that YouTube is a business that relies on creative contents from creators and their advertisers. With this in mind, YouTube has to continuously update their policies to protect both entities. Asking for creators to be transparent is one of their goals but in this day and age, being transparent would mean to be polished and as moderate as possible, having a middle stance especially on controversial topics. Unfortunately, everyone leans too far from moderate that it has become a problem and something that YouTube cannot seem to control. This is what happens when you have a platform that allows everyone to share a diversity of the mind. There is nothing wrong with that but at some point, it can hurt a business especially if it reflects their image and begin to frown.
Most creators do not see it that way and when YouTube tries to do what they can to create a peaceful space, you will have individuals believing that it is a form of censorship when all along, all creators have to do is be mindful and only say things that they know they would say if they have a real job with real customers and a real office space. It is about professionalism and some people lack it.
According to YouTube’s Community Guidelines Enforcement for violative contents, the things that can get creators in trouble include violent extremism contents that cover hateful or violent graphics. This also includes materials produced by government-listed foreign terrorist organizations or promotes the recruitment of any terrorist organizations. YouTube does use technology to aid in detecting these contents which is another thing content creators are well aware of and have been questioning for quite some time, wondering how flawless this piece of technology is.
If you would like to understand more, you can click the link right here: TRANSPARENCY REPORT
YouTube also has a focus to support journalism with technology that helps them thrive and making news readily accessible to the general public. As we skim through their blog describing what an authoritative content is, we get a better understanding of what independent content creators who have a channel focusing on real-time news, reaction to publications, and challenging news that has been provided to the community have been complaining about.
According to Digiday, YouTube had invested $25 Million towards news initiatives back in 2018 as part of the Google News Initiative, which is used to hire specialists to support publishers and help build their video operations to feature and improve news on YouTube. With this statement in mind, the news media outlet that is part of this investment becomes the authoritative content that YouTube speaks of. The investment into this project also includes an expansion of its Players for Publishers which is a video player that publishers can embed on their sites and allow them to keep all the associated ad revenue. This is a prominent tool for journalists working for large media corporations. In 2018, YouTube was looking for a better way to balance their support for authoritative content and independent creative content on an open platform. As for this latest statement, it seems that YouTube will take the approach to raise authoritative contents over independent content as their first priority. What does that mean for content creators who have many reaches and a large following without a big media backing? We will continue to keep you updated on this.
What is borderline content? It is equivalent to fake news articles disguised as a YouTube video. Click baits being one of them and contents that can misinform users in a harmful way that promotes miracle cures for illness, conspiracy theories, or contents that makes false claims on historical events. In YouTube’s blog, it did mention that these are also contents that were propped for recommendations, such as if Johnny has been watching hours of some reality show, a content that matches the interest of Johnny will become readily available, hence the term ‘borderline‘.
YouTube is working on recommending less of these contents to watch but it can still be available on YouTube just so long as they meet the community guidelines, meaning that if creators have a broad audience and their video is shared, it will still gain traction. YouTube will not promote it and creators will have to promote themselves in a different form of action. YouTube believes that this is the best way to maintain its platform for free speech and promote user responsibility. In other words, if creators would love the free promotion of their contents, they will have to provide proof of a behaved balance as they upload to the public square. Fair enough.
YouTube had tightened up their YouTube Partner Programs back in 2017, subjecting creators to have an overall performance report of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time before their channel can become evaluated for partnership. This has been a challenge for many creators who just started but it helps YouTube as it helps them vet the channel to ensure that they comply with YouTube’s policy. News channels will also have to apply to become partnered as they reach the same milestones.
There is also other aspects to consider during the evaluation such as community strikes, spam, and abuse flags. If the creator have never had these issues entering the YouTube Partner Program but received them as a partner, they are subjected to be removed from the program.
One of YouTube’s core values is to provide anyone the opportunity to earn money from a thriving channel, and while our policies will evolve over time, our commitment to that value remains.https://youtube-creators.googleblog.com/2018/01/additional-changes-to-youtube-partner.html
YouTube’s New Combat
After taking a closer look at what YouTube looks for in their community as a whole, let’s go back to the June 5, 2019 statement where YouTube is enforcing a new policy to combat harassment because of the feud between Crowder and Maza. The main complaints from Maza were harassment and hate speech. YouTube’s definition of harassment is whether the content’s purpose is to incite harassment, threaten or humiliate an individual or when a piece of personal information has been revealed, also known as doxing. In other words, there has to be some form of a request to the public to act on a certain threat towards an individual by the creator to make it harassment. You can react to a person, talk about them in a manner that sounds offensive to some and not to all, it will not be considered harassment.
As for hate speech, the same concept applies. If the content does not promote or incite violence, promote supremacism over a protected group, it is not considered a violation of hate speech. Using racial, homophobic, or sexist epithets in contents also do not necessarily violate the hate speech policy neither. One of the example that YouTube used were lewd or offensive languages are often used in songs and comedic routine. The only time hate speech violation is positively identified is when the primary focus on the video is hate or harassment and it will be subject to removal. A criticism or if viewers find it offensive, it will not fall under the category of hate. Fair enough.
The other thing that YouTube is combating is hateful and supremacist content removal from the platform. Their hate speech policy were also updated to videos that promotes violence against individuals or groups based on any attributes such as: age, caste, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, nationality, race, immigration status, religion, sex/gender, sexual orientation, victims of a major violent event and their kin, veteran status.
These attributes can be mentioned but the whole video cannot be created purposely for the mentioned above and it cannot encourage violence against individuals or groups of the attributes noted, which would be a form of harassment.
Having a Better Understanding After the Statement
It did not take us long to understand what is necessary to stay afloat on YouTube. If the article is still too vague for most people to understand, leave a comment below and we will decipher it deeper for your understanding. Overall, it looks like YouTube is not catering to the side of creators, media, or business entity. They are doing what they believe is right to protect all types of audience. Whether it sounds fair at all, it is entirely up to the crowd to perceive it as so. The main thing that we took from all the articles that we have compiled on the rules and guideline is that it is the video that is at risk; the content, not the creator. That sounds like an oxymoron but the video needs to meet the guideline, not the creator. Of course it will feel like an attack when creators receive the bad news but since they produce these content, it is normal to feel attacked. Take the reprimand as a criticism and change the way you approach your listings.
Creators and the audience alike need to understand that there are rules and if it is not professionally met, YouTube do not have to recommend the content to anyone or/are subjected to introduce the content to any advertisers. Creators will also have to sort of view YouTube as their landlord. They are giving them a space to produce their content for the world and if the creators make a big pile of mess or poke holes in the wall and refuse to fix it, the landlord can evict them. It’s as simple as that.
We side with creators but we also side with what is right. Sometimes people abuse the privilege that they have and explaining things may change some peoples viewpoints or stance. If not, it’s okay. That is it for now and please sign up for the newsletter for updates on YouTube and Creator news.
Soul Sin is a Freelance Writer and Designer for Soul Stylez Creation and Logical Millennials. Her latest projects include writing for What’s New YouTube and creating contents that will help encourage anyone who wants to pursue the dream of Freelancing and creating content online to supplement their income. Her goal is to see everyone grow, acknowledge creators who have worked hard and get rid of the negative energy that most people online has been sharing contagiously through social media. Soul wants positive change and she knows it takes baby steps but she is willing to do what she can to bring sanity back to the interweb.