Why YouTubers Are Freaking Out About Money And ‘Censorship’

Why YouTubers Are Freaking Out About Money And ‘Censorship’

Yesterday, popular YouTuber Philip DeFranco uploaded a video where he claimed that YouTube was “shutting down” his channel due to guideline violations that included “excessive strong language”. Since then, panic and confusion have struck the YouTube world, with some wondering if this is the start of an excessive clamp down that would put channels with millions of subscribers out of business.

DeFranco’s own woes started when he noticed that a dozen of his videos were flagged by YouTube as not being “advertiser friendly”, meaning that that these videos could no longer accrue revenue, as they had before:

“By taking away the ability to monetise a video where you’re saying things that they don’t deem “OK”, that’s been described as censorship with a different name,” DeFranco said in his YouTube video, which as of this writing has 1.8 million views. “Because if you do this on the regular and you have no advertising, it’s not sustainable.”

DeFranco did acknowledge that YouTube would be well within its rights to dictate what happens on their own website, though he took umbrage with the fact that YouTube didn’t communicate very well with its own content creators.

After DeFranco’s Tweets and YouTube videos started circulating, a bevy of other YouTubers have come out to speak against YouTube’s advertising policies. The channels that self-identify as vulnerable by these advertising guidelines seem to be news channels covering sensitive real-world topics, though YouTubers with gaming content are also reporting more demonetised content recently. Many YouTubers are reporting bizarre instances of demonetised content. Most people, from beauty bloggers to comedy channels and everything in between, seem at the very least wary about recent chatter:


I reached out to YouTube, and a spokesperson clarified that technically, nothing has really changed on YouTube’s end:

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.

According to YouTube, they have tried to make it easier for creators to know when a video is no longer advertiser friendly, and that furthermore, YouTube now provides creators with a way to log an appeal for any demonetised footage. The idea was to make this information accessible more easily, which is why some YouTubers felt that they “suddenly” got a bunch of flagged videos at once. The representative I spoke to stressed that any flagged videos aren’t the result of a policy tweak, because YouTube’s advertising guidelines have been in effect for a long time now.

While news of YouTube’s actual intentions have started to spread, there’s still an air of uncertainty for many content creators. YouTube is already a fickle place, where people don’t feel like they have full control over how they make money — if they make make money at all. While YouTube claims it isn’t enforcing its guidelines more strongly now, the optics aren’t very friendly here thanks to a surge of YouTubers who are now reporting demonetised videos. It could just be a matter of timing and coincidence though, especially if demonetised alerts are simply more visible now, hence the “increase” in reports.

A lot of the confusion seems to be a related to the “YouTube’s Advertiser-friendly content guidelines” page, which says that swearing, sexually suggestive content, violence, drug use or usage of controversial subjects are not advertiser friendly. By that metric, most videos worth watching violate the guidelines… except that scaremongers seem to leave out the part on that page that says, “If the video does contain inappropriate content, the context is usually newsworthy or comedic and the creator’s intent is to inform or entertain (not offend or shock).” Theoretically, that would safeguard most videos. Asked about this directly, a YouTube spokesperson reiterated that YouTubers can now appeal these decisions, so there’s not as much cause for concern as some might like you to believe.

More overtly, all this paranoia around policies speaks to YouTube’s tenuous relationship with “drama” in 2016. As we reported earlier this year, YouTube is experiencing a schism thanks to popular channels who report on salacious and gossipy news items, and these topics would theoretically be harder to report on if YouTube was indeed getting serious about its guidelines. It doesn’t help that rumours have been floating around for a long while that YouTube might be changing its terms of services in ways that would negatively affect large channels that operate in a morally grey area. The conspiracy theory now is that the perceived enthusiastic enforcement of advertisement guidelines is a sly way for YouTube to weed out “undesirable” channels, but there’s nothing concrete to line that tinfoil hat just yet.

The commotion that has broken out recently can be traced back to these wider tensions felt by the YouTube community, though it probably didn’t help that one of the most well-known channels out there initially exaggerated a little bit about what is going right now. Don’t worry. Nobody is getting “shut down”, not that this is stopping the internet from having a little fun with the idea:


  • I have never ever heard of a company disassociating themselves from a youtube advertisement EVER!

    Brand deals, and paid conent are contriversial… sure but at the end of the day no one has ever associated the youtube ad to the creator… its just random algorithm in the eyes of viewers.

    Also find it hard to think that youtube couldnt find sponsors for their content

    They also not giving the advertisers the option to opt out of this and sponsor these now unacceptable videos… causr they get the hits, the demographics and the views. Hard to think people like many of them, such as game critics whic are alarmingly a large portion of them, are unadvertisable or unfriendly cause at the end the industry values their opinion/input into the industry else they would be blacklisted long time ago.

    Also Youtube isnt taking the ads away, they are taking away the money from the ads and keeping them to themselves.

    • Well that is the thing it is just random advertising. And random advertising can only get you so far in terms of revenue. And just because advertisers haven’t publicly disassociated themselves. You can be almost completely sure they have been squeezing YT about this for a while. The majority of advertisers would not want their ad with some content whether it is random or not. Given they are the ones paying, of course YT will do things to satisfy them. Hardly censorship. People can still make and post their videos, they just won’t make money off them. And that is perfectly fair.

  • YouTube used to be a place where people make stuff and upload it. Now its governed by ContentID AI where Fair Use means nothing and the “copyright” holders can merely click a button to block videos, despite appeals.

    This whole “non advertiser friendly” is just another nail.

    YouTube has gotten corporate and too big for itself. Time for the indy alternative to pick up the slack for us plebs.

    • If companies don’t want to advertise on content that they don’t agree with then they won’t pay YouTube. If YouTube doesn’t get paid then why should the content creator?

      Same thing happens with advertising on TV shows.

      • But no where in this has been any proof that advertisers agree to this… or if advertisers can choose to opt into or out of this policy. I find it hard to believe NO ADVERTISERS would want to advertise with a video that gets the viewable demographics.

        Its and arbitrary ruling your content is controversial… it may as well be youtube saying your too hard to deal with cause everytime you post something a false DMCA is made against you…a common practice to silience youtube news and critics… which seem to be unevenly effected by this change.

        And at the end if the day most of these videos are reporting ABOUT A CONTROVERSY… not causing one… and appears the original sources of the controversy still exist collecting the monies.

        Also appears to be applied by bots (third party most likely) as its targetting popular videos on subjects and not ALL videos on that subject.

        Seen examples of videos having it monetisation removed… but the react video of a moron watching the controversy unfold picture in picture is still getting the monies.

        • In the end the YouTubers are relying on a service they have no control over in order to generate an income. YouTube can do whatever it likes, regardless of what anyone else says or does. If there’s certain types of content that YouTube wants to flag as inappropriate due to either advertisers wishes or their own then that’s it.

          Deal with it or leave, those are the only options YouTubers have.

    • YouTube used to be a place where people make stuff and upload it.Nothing’s changed, unless you meant something entirely different.

  • This is pretty much meaning anything can deemed offensive or oppressive if speaking about anything in the world right now. This can mean Movie and game reviewers can have a big problem that they have no way around.

    You would think after the Wheres the fair-use campaign, they would learn that the content creators are fed up with their shit.

  • YouTube are free to do what they like with their own site. If advertisers don’t want to have their ads shown on videos that they believe would impinge on their brand then YouTube can’t make money on those vids so they don’t want to pay content creators for the views. Seems like this latest round is just that YouTube has improved the way they’re notifying the content creators and they aren’t actually flagging any extra videos.

    • The thing is, with this new system, advertisers don’t get a say in what videos they want their ads on. It’s just Youtube saying, “Oh hey! I don’t think advertisers would like your content even though they’ve been advertising on it for the past 5 years! I’m gonna remove the monetization on your videos!”.

      • It’s not a new system though. The videos they have flagged now were already exempt from ad revenue. They’ve just made it more obvious to the YouTubers by giving them a notification.

        • It being a new system or not was not the point. The point is that advertisers have no say in this process. Youtube is the one that’s determining what is and isn’t advertiser friendly.

  • I’d respond to this in the same way I respond to Trump for president.

    “I’m bored, let’s do it, let’s see what happens.”

    • It would be funny to see…

      The stage show already has an ending, even with all the audience participation.

      But man….it would be freaking hilarious to see.

  • I get the impression that some YouTubers see monetisation as a right, not a privilege. If only the world was so forgiving. They are freelancers, and some are just starting to realise that surviving as a freelancer is pretty tough!

    If an employer in a traditional office setting isn’t satisfied with the output of one of their staff, they normally find the door pretty quickly. Advertisers pulling out of legitimately controversial videos that don’t suit their bottom line is -their- right. Who can blame them? Their alignment with a potentially controversial video is too great a risk when considering how damaging bad social media coverage can be.

    I feel naive in the past for thinking that YouTubers had a pretty decent standard of living by ranting/playing games/unboxing etc. While the work itself can feel more rewarding than sitting inside a cubicle, I’ll stick with my steady day job.

    Also – censorship. That’s not censorship by any definition, sorry. And even if it was…. did you happen to read your disclaimer on YouTube when signing up?

    • This is a steady job for many of these people, fully managed business models, staff. employees payrolls and incomes… if they cant afford to do business due to a chunk of income becomes too unrealiable cause at a moments notice youtube can flag it with these discriminatory rules that are not clearly defined or applied evenly.

      There are a lot of professional critics and media personalties on this list, and because they say one bad thing about someone or some product thry can be flagged and lose and its a system that is abused to silent bad reviews or bad publicity.

      Three strikes and you can loose your whole entire channel. Your brand and everything you ever posted cause someine decided your opinion NEEDS to be silenced.

      At the end of the day, ad revenue had no strings attached.. without ad revenue the reslly controversial youtubers will have to source income rrom other sources… and we will end up with another CSGO style controversy which youtube us trying to avoid but will end up creating if they dont stabilise youtuber revenues and secure their rifhts for fair and impartial judgement on their content

    • You are naive if they really think advertisers are the ones pushing this.

      This is absolutely Youtube deciding for advertisers, not the other way around… And it’s all purely based on “You’re not allowed to do anything anyone doesn’t like, ever!” mentality designed to appease the professionally offended.

      But hey, if they want to run their business like that then so be it. It’ll either work, or backfire spectacularly. My money is on the latter.

      There’s a reason so many people no longer solely base themselves on Youtube.

  • Most people, from beauty bloggers to comedy channels and everything in between, seem at the very least wary about recent chatter
    This is pretty much proof that this system is broken. As Patricia explains later, this system is meant to allow breaches of these rules for comedic purpose and entertainment. As you can see though, these channels are still getting hit.

    According to YouTube, they have tried to make it easier for creators to know when a video is no longer advertiser friendly, and that furthermore, YouTube now provides creators with a way to log an appeal for any demonetised footage.
    Youtube made it easier? Of course they made it easier. People didn’t even know that this shit was happening before. Youtube introduced this system without telling anybody and now, after they’ve taken enough money from the ad revenue, they’re gonna let people appeal the decision.

    My question is this, what happens to all the money that a creator loses between the time their videos were secretly demonotized and they time they are re-monotized through appeal? Obviously, the initial demonotization was a false flag, so the creator should be entitled to all the money they missed out on during the time their video was demonotized.

    scaremongers seem to leave out the part on that page that says, “If the video does contain inappropriate content, the context is usually newsworthy or comedic and the creator’s intent is to inform or entertain (not offend or shock).”
    As pointed out before by Patricia herself, whatever is flagging videos for breaking these rules isn’t taking into account the context of the video. You can’t just shoot first and ask questions later when it comes to peoples livelihoods.

    Don’t worry. Nobody is getting “shut down”
    Maybe not directly. But, if a creator can’t make any money on his content, how can he support his channel? He will be forced to shut down. This comes back to what Phillip DeFranco said about this being a kind of censorship. Take money from the people you don’t agree with and they’ll no longer be able to disagree with you.

    I understand that Youtube is a private business and they can do what they want. But, when you’re such a vital part of some people’s lives, you just can’t do things like this. Being a private business isn’t an excuse.

  • I think the bigger question is why on earth is youtube’s pool of advertisers so shallow that it can only run adds on “content that’s appropriate for all audiences”? It’s not like commercial TV has been running ads on M and R rated movies etc. for decades. Oh wait…

    • The advertisers aren’t the ones making this decision. Youtube itself is deeming what is and isn’t appropriate for ads.

  • I always just assumed that the ads on youtube content were random. Now that I know they’re not I can judge the advertiser based on the youtube content that they’re advertising. So now an advertiser really will be held accountable for youtuber content. backfire lol

Show more comments

Comments are closed.

Log in to comment on this story!