Vloggers Are Crying Censorship, But YouTube Says It’s Nothing New

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If you checked out Reddit’s /r/videos yesterday, you might have noticed that a video entitled “YouTube Is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What to Do” held the top position for much of the day. In it, Philip DeFranco (a frequent vlogger with more than 4.5 million YouTube followers) explained he had received a notification from YouTube that he would no longer be able to monetize one of his recent videos. The video’s dramatic title is a bit hyperbolic, but, hey, it worked. I clicked.

According to DeFranco, YouTube came after his video for violating its terms of use, citing “excessive strong language.” (DeFranco refers to his viewers as “beautiful bastards” at the opening of every video, to give you an idea of his style.) In the video that prompted the notification, DeFranco discussed several controversial topics, including Standford rapist Brock Turner, which could be deemed inappropriate as per YouTube’s “advertiser-friendly content guidelines.” DeFranco would later tweet that at least a dozen of his videos have been affected.

DeFranco describes losing monetization as “censorship with a different name,” and he’s not the only one speaking out. Several other YouTubers have since tweeted about similar experiences, inspiring the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty.

It makes sense that YouTubers would be concerned about these perceived changes; video ads are a key part of generating income for a vlogger. But YouTube says the only thing that has changed in recent days is creators are now more transparently notified when monetized ads are removed from a video. “We recently started rolling out improved notifications in Video Manager to make it clearer to creators when a video is demonetized due to advertiser-friendly content concerns, as well as to make it easy to appeal,” the company explained in a blog post. “This change is just one part of our broader effort to improve our platform and help our creators build strong businesses on YouTube.” Under the new changes, creators receive an email every time a video is demonetized and will be able to request a re-review for videos they believe are wrongly deemed inappropriate. Which means YouTubers aren’t necessarily losing any more money than they were before, but now they’ll know when it’s happening.

Or as YouTube put it in a tweet: “Our $$$ policy hasn’t changed, but we do have a new notification system.” Now it’s just a matter of whether the $$$ matters enough to these creators to make them play by YouTube’s rules. Or if the YouTuber community, by sheer force of hashtag, will be able to make YouTube change its advertising guidelines. For Phil DeFranco, it seems like he’s hopeful for the latter.