Banned From Making Money, These YouTubers Share Their Stories

Last week, after I reported on Nick Reineke's ban from YouTube's AdSense service because of an over-zealous fan, two strange things happened. The first: just a few minutes after the story ran, Reineke sent me an email to say that YouTube had reinstated his AdSense account. They didn't say a word; he just found that his account suddenly worked again.

The second: people started contacting me with their own stories. YouTubers who had been banned from AdSense — almost all for the same exact reason — sent over messages on Kotaku, Twitter and email to share their tales of woe. It seems to be a common problem, and once someone is banned from YouTube's advertising service, it seems to be near-impossible to get back on.

I've rounded up a few of their stories here.

YouTube user MrTheVestman:

I can also confirm the same thing the person in the article experienced. I was one of the first to get swept up in their new, more open policy about monetizing. However after a short time I had been banned, with the same reasons as the person in the article. After much digging, I found the same issue had occurred. A subscriber (Later identified) had gone through and shot my clicks from the average 20/day, to nearly 300. I tried multiple times to get it cleared up, but Google doesn't bother with actual customer support, so I never had my account re-monetized. I eventually gave up, as I had recently started freelancing anyways, and had no time to maintain my channel anymore. Glad to see that at least this person had his sorted out.

YouTube user SniperousSnape:

My account was disabled about a month ago after I received an astounding 999 clicks in one day. I thought this was just a glitch by Google, but sure enough they blamed me and took down my account the next day.

YouTube user BitGamerYT:

I had a subscriber that had been clicking on adverts on any video that I posted and within a month from just this one subscriber I had amounted over £1000 from AdSense which at the time I questioned this with Google without reply as I felt something was going very wrong and not knowing at the time as to what was the cause I left it to see what happened. Within a day of the end date I had my account blocked and the same standard emails sent to myself from Google and though I explained I had made contact to say I felt something was going wrong, Google simply said that "after further investigation the account is in breach of Google guidelines" etc.

In the end I gave up and vented on Twitter, where the offending subscriber came forward and said they were only trying to help and do something good for the channel... Though angry, I did make one last attempt to contact Google with this fact and that email went unanswered.

YouTube user Jademalo:

I ran a Minecraft server, and had some ads on the site I also ran. And my brother, being the loving and kind brother he is (with good intentions,) clicked my adverts a few times so I got some money.

I've been banned for over two years, and I appeal every 6 months or so. This is blocking my ability to monetise my YouTube videos, and considering I've got a decent amount of views on a few of them, It's a huge kick in the teeth.

The thing is - I don't even know if it was my brother that triggered it. I'm only assuming that since he was on the same IP as me, but for all I know some of the other people who play on the server could have done it, again, with good intentions (Since they knew I was struggling to afford it.)

This AdSense policy of instant ban forever is a little bit ridiculous, if there was an explination as to why you were banned, or a three strikes policy, or even just a fair warning that there was invalid activity going on, you'd have time to put a stop to it, rather than being banned from AdSense for life.

I mean, I could create a new Google account - but I have Jademalo on everything. It's my identity, and it's the channel I have all the views on. Heck, I'm even using it right now to email you, and I logged in with it to post this same thing as a comment.

It really sucks being knocked down before I even had the chance to get up.

YouTuber user TWILdotTV, formerly thisweekinlinux:

I started making videos on YouTube in December of 2009. I primarily discussed technology-related subjects, surrounding Linux and free/open source software. I immediately set up an AdSense account and tied it to my original domain, http://thisweekinlinux.com, and monetized videos on my "thisweekinlinux" channel on YouTube when they were offered.

In March/April of 2010, my channel began rapidly growing, and in June, I was accepted into the YouTube partner program. I had approximately 2000 subscribers and about 100,000 total video views at the time. By the end of the year, my channel had grown to over 10,000 subscribers and over 1 million video views. Things were going very well, from my point of view.

In June of 2011, I believe I was at 24-25,000 subscribers, and about 3 million total video views, and on June 15th, my AdSense account was banned with the reason of: "your AdSense account

poses a risk of generating invalid activity". Apparently this is a pretty common occurrence, but I wasn't aware of it until then.

I filed my appeal, giving as much information as I could (server statistics, potential issues, etc.). The only thing I could really think of was that I had received a spike in traffic on one day for being featured on a larger blog (traffic was approximately 3-4x what it normally would be). Even then, I was denied.

I reached out to YouTube partner support, and they immediately turned me away. Another person I know who works at Google in the New York office actually went to the AdSense desk there, and they pointed him to the FAQ page for disabled accounts, so I finally gave up the fight.

YouTube user VGReviewUnit:

I applied for Adsense, and a few of my friends decided to help me out by clicking some of the ads on my site. They got a bit overzealous and clicked them once a day for about 10 days. When I asked them to stop as it would be improper traffic and clicks and what not, it was already too late and I had been banned.

YouTube user BraindeadlyWorld, formerly BraindeadlyEU:

I basically had the same problem as the guy you wrote an article about his AdSense being banned because of an over-zealous fan - after wanting to leave Machinima to join Curse for months I finally got out of Machinima and also found out that my AdSense was banned too. I still have no idea why my AdSense was banned, I'm assuming it is someone who wanted to support me and clicked my ads a lot on my website.

I tried appealing 3 times, all attempts were rejected from Google.

...

From then on I've had to switch from my YouTube channel BraindeadlyEU which had over 43k subscribers to BraindeadlyWorld, which is owned by a close friend but I give videos to him to put there as it's not actually legal for me to post videos there myself technically. It's quite disheartening to me as people on YouTube basically watch videos on auto-pilot/are rather passive, naturally and it's really hard to get people to move over to another channel, so I ended up losing about 70% of my subscribers.

YouTube user Undertwolitre:

I recently had my Youtube adsense banned just as it was due to receive its first payment.

Apparently someone watched an ad on one of my videos a few times in a row so that makes me fraudulent.

Cool hey?


Comments

    Same thing happened to my friend on his webcomic, his cousin went insane and clicked a billion times and got his account banned.

    More evidence that Google is in fact evil.

      Or that they're wise by stopping click fraud?

      They way I see it, they're not reinstating accounts, because the same thing may happen again. You get your account back by pleading innocent (which you are), then another subscriber "helps you out" by clicking a few dozen times and you're back in the same boat. Get the cycle I'm pointing out here?

      I see as a protective measure by Google. It doesn't want to be out $1000 where it doesn't have to be (and who does?) but it doesn't want to deal with post-complaint monetary adjustment (e.g. you get 4593 clicks, 274 of those from a crazed subscriber, you only had 4,319 real clicks, so let's take the money out of your account or reduce your earnings without you knowing why)

    The thing that really confuses me about this is that if they can detect it enough to ban people, why don't they just ignore the offending clicks and explain to the account holder why they did so? Surely it's the same end result for AdSense, but a better result for the account holders.

    EDIT: Actually, this is making me really mad the more I think about it. There is no reason at all why they should instaban rather than invalidate some transactions. AdSense probably figures that by writing some clause in their T&C, they can still show their ads then get away with not paying people what they're due (see the final quote). Or simply deny them the ability to monetise their efforts in the future given that they are the only option for YouTube content producers. It sounds like there is the potential for a genuine class action case there.

    Last edited 04/12/12 11:53 am

      Because these clicks may have come from a range of IP addresses. If I tell people to go and click the ads on my site (which you shouldn't because I told you to. Only click 'em if you're interested in what you see), I could get 1000 clicks from 1000 different IP addresses. Click Fraud is very hard to detect unless it's from the one IP or country.

      And who can say what is a genuine click or a dodgy click? If you go to my site and click an ad, is that because you like the product being advertised? Because I told you to? Because you want to get my account suspended?

      I do see your point about invalidating multiple clicks, but again, 1000 people could share an IP address (e.g. in an organisation or school) and that could be seen as invalid clicks, even if it's not.

      For the record, I don't work at Google. I do show ads on my site, but I'm here as an opposing side, not as a "Hay guise Google r greet!" sort.

        Was this actually meant to be in reply to me? I'm completely aware that there are legitimate reasons why multiple clicks come from the same IP - e.g. if a class of kids all watch the same video at the same time then click on the ad. But this sort of thing should be relatively rare and one incident shouldn't be banworthy. Maybe it takes more than this, and all the parties above are telling incomplete stories.

        In the end though it doesn't matter HOW they detect the apparently fraudulent clicks, they ARE doing so to the point where they're willing to ban accounts. I just can't understand why they don't just ignore those clicks instead of banning. If all the clicks are deemed to be bad, ignore them all. If it's a concentrated attack by 4chan or some such, the clicks for that period will be ignored and they are deprived of a little money. In the school example above, it's just one of those unfortunate things where the clicks count for nothing. But when it all passes their account is still there and legitimate clicks are still recognised. If there's a pattern of fraud over an extended period, then maybe think about banning.

          I'm totally with you on this idea. Your average joe is probably gonna be oblivious to this kind of thing, and instaban is a bit harsh. Some sort of compromise must be able to be agreed upon. I'd be interested to hear their reasonings and see their evidence as well though.

        Wait, I disagree with you there - and I'd be interested to know other people's opinions. If I write on my blog "everyone go to my youtube channel and click on the ad for me please?" is that really "click fraud"? or is it rather "driving traffic to an advertiser's website", which is in fact the whole point of advertising and the reason advertisers want to give you money?

        Even if people aren't interested in the product they're clicking on, it still gives advertisers a chance to pitch their product at the potential consumer.

    Sounds like something 4chan would use to troll people :/

      That's what I was thinking upon reading this article - it just seems like another 'bug' (if you will) that will allow people to essentially attack a websites ads in a DDoS fashion in order to have them lose out on making money from adsense.

      Maybe if they did start doing this - targeting some of the biggest names on there and getting them all banned, it could bring about a change?

    A word of advice to all YouTube partners / those who are able to monetize their YouTube videos. Click bombing will only get your account banned if you use Adsense, join a third party YouTube network like TGN or Fullscreen, and it won't be an issue. The clicks will simply not be counted.

      And for webcomics, use Project Wonderful.

    This seems to be a somewhat flawed system, when the person is just sitting there doing the right thing and a flurry of clicks by a well meaning fan screw them over.

    And what do you say, please don't click an ad more than once or I'm screwed. Just to make sure people who hate you know exactly how to get you? And the hate is the thing I don't understand, I see a video I don't like I stop watching it and look for something I do like. But some people need them to be killed for their opinion according to the often brainless comments.

      So much love for this comment.

      All too often (actually, pretty much on every video) I see ridiculous banter over 'this band vs this band' or 'this band sucks' or 'this band isn't x genre, they're y genre! you're an idiot!', etc..

      It's absolute and utter stupidity and just an excuse to be a keyboard warrior.. if you don't like the video, DON'T WATCH IT!

      EDIT: To clarify, 99% of videos I watch on YouTube are music videos, hence the band comments I always see.

      Last edited 04/12/12 1:30 pm

        It's so confusing when people who hate the band go to the bands official music channel to start a fight about how much they hate the band. Surely they could find something more enjoyable to do failing finding something more productive.

    Maybe we should just stop using adsense, as easy as it is to set up and add to your page, if you don't get revenue from it because they invalid an account rather than invalid clicks, it's not worth the hour or so it takes to set up. Get more money clearing the neighbors' yards for them for an hour anyway.

    Like marrkdaviid said it's best to not enable adsense until you are partnered with a 3rd party network that will protect you from this crap . I learnt the hard way.

    Trying to discern the liars from the innocent. Many of these people probally deserved the ban as they got someone to mass click. I'm sure that google are smart enough to IP check or have a system in place to disable mass clicks from a single IP.

      Still, wouldn't it be good if google said "here's exactly what you did wrong" as opposed to "you did something... that is all I'm saying".

      Reminds me of an ex of mine "if you don't know what you did wrong, I'm not going to tell you!"

    Leads me to the question:
    If money from Adsense went to the youtuber, and their Adsense is now banned, does youtube effectively pocket the money from the uploaders work?
    Does this mean that if something is popular youtube can make more money by claiming fraud and banning and then taking the money themselves, if so it seems like a big conflict of interest, maybe we'll see a court case about this sort of this one-day

    I'm gonna go out in a limb and say that more than a few of these people probably did some dodgy things or tried to fudge the numbers a bit and when they got stung they try to blame it on fans or family.

    wait so if I regularly visit a site, have adblocker disabled to support them and see new ads for products I may be interested and click-through then I am somehow doing a disservice to both the page owner AND the advertiser.

    As when the adsense is banned and taken down then there is no-one getting money EXCEPT for adsense from the advertisers which are getting burned too.

    Pretty sad that this is now public. Now trolls can get anyones adsense shut down.

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