After a month of having their livelihoods screwed with, a lot of Let's Players and other gaming content creators are looking for answers from YouTube as to why they had to lose ad revenue for nearly two months. Now after the "ad-pocalypse" has some and gone, YouTube have responded in both a non-direct and confusing way.
On June 1, YouTube released this statement regarding updates to their advertiser system and how content creators can make their videos more "ad friendly." Here's a sampling of some of the guidelines for your reading pleasure.
- Hateful content: Content that promotes discrimination or disparages or humiliates an individual or group of people on the basis of the individual's or group's race, ethnicity, or ethnic origin, nationality, religion, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other characteristic associated with systematic discrimination or marginalization
- Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters: Content that depicts family entertainment characters engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, even if done for comedic or satirical purposes.
- Incendiary and demeaning content: Content that is gratuitously incendiary, inflammatory, or demeaning. For example, video content that uses gratuitously disrespectful language that shames or insults an individual or group.
What you may notice from this is that while the guidelines address certain concerns, they are not entirely specific as to what constitutes a video being branded as having violated one of these guidelines. Let me explain why that's important and why it can't be shrugged off. When you're a company laying out guidelines over content, there needs to be details and specifications for people to make reference to in order to both determine if it is a violation. Or if it is mistaken as being in violation, someone can use those details to prove it isn't.
That's called context! And context is an important commodity that YouTube does not address in these new changes. Why is context important? Because without a clear definition beyond simple terms, anyone working at YouTube could look at a video you create, deem it inappropriate, slap a label on it without details or justification, and you instantly lose monetization. Right now, because the system is so vague, you could mention marijuana as a joke or say the word "asshole" in your video, and YouTube could come in and have that video demonized simply because you used the word and nothing more. That scenario is very real and probably happening as you read this.
Many YouTube content creators in the gaming realm are already voicing their concerns over it, calling the entire change censorship of content, while others are calling it a punishment for free speech. One of the most prominent videos to talk about it came from The RPG Minx, one of the longest running Let's Players on YouTube, who voiced her opinions over the changes by citing examples like CNN who air videos of news reports that could bee deemed as hateful content or controversial, and how advertisers are willing to turn a blind eye to things if it's making them money.
The gaming world isn't the only group being affected by these changes as LGBTQ content is still having issues being monetized from clear back in March. Recently, any channel making pro-wrestling content (WhatCulture Wrestling, for example) have now been classified as being not advertiser friendly and those channels are now taking a hit. Bottom line: the entire ordeal is a giant mess and the new guidelines have apparently made it worse.
What are your thoughts on the changes? Did YouTube make the right decision for their company, or was it the wrong move against people who provide them daily content?