Everything you need to know about YouTube’s latest censorship drama
PhilipDeFrancoYoutubegripes

YouTube plays an integral role in many modern media consumers’ lives, but the struggles behind the scenes for some of its content creators are far from welcome

We’ve previously reported on the troubles faced by YouTubers when the site erroneously deletes their accounts, effectively suspending them from a job indefinitely and without notice, but now it seems a worrying spate of censorship is spreading accross the platform.

That’s according to popular YouTuber Philip DeFranco – currently subscribed to by over four and a half million fans at the time of writing – who claims he will stop making money from his videos unless he fully sticks to the site’s terms and conditions.

Here’s everything you need to know about YouTube’s most recent fallout.

What’s the problem?

According to DeFranco, the YouTube creator received notice that a number of his videos would not be eligible to be monetised due to their “non-advertiser friendly” content.

It’s an effect of the site’s new Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines – guidelines that are difficult to find, and ones that seem to have been kept away from the creators themselves.

It’s obviously a cause for concern for DeFranco and many other YouTubers who rely on the income of their videos for a livelihood.

In a video entitled ‘YouTube Is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What To Do’, DeFranco outlines his problems with the site, noting that even his friendly signature salutation (“What’s up, you beautiful bastards?”) could be at risk because “that and several other things I do are not ‘advertiser friendly'”.

So bad language isn’t allowed?

It might be more troubling than that. DeFranco’s channel is a means for the YouTuber to discuss news stories and social issues in his own charismatic way, bringing those topics to the kind of audience who might not sit themselves down in front of ‘traditional’ news programming.

The video initially flagged by YouTube was a critical piece about a woman called Annaliese Neilson, who recently attempted to “shame” a taxi driver in the US for having a model of a Hawaiian hula dancer on his dashboard.

The video included swearing, and a discussion about cultural appropriation along with mentions of Islamic State and Brock Turner, a US student recently found guilty of sexual assault.

YouTube’s decision to punish DeFranco for uploading this type of video could be construed as a blow against free speech, with content creators effectively having to toe the line if they are looking to gain money from their videos.

Surely there are guidelines to follow?

Well, yes. As with any service, there are Terms and Conditions in place when users sign up to post content to the site.

“All videos must comply with YouTube’s Terms of Service and Community Guidelines”, is the official stance. “YouTube reserves the right to turn off monetisation if a video doesn’t follow our guidelines.”

Which is all well and good, but turning off monetisation for something that doesn’t quite meet those guidelines seems a strange choice, with both parties – both YouTube and its creators – losing out.

Of course, the site is welcome to run things however it sees fit, but a clearer stance on what constitutes advertiser friendly content might be helpful.

Are these ‘advertisers’ just out of the loop?

It would appear so. Not everyone is offended by bad language, and while certain products may not be of interest to those that are, others will be.

There isn’t one demographic, and while families are unlikely to sit down in front of DeFranco’s videos, countless others (over 4.5 million individuals, in fact) are.

Is this just another case of society trying to hold the internet to the same standards as TV and radio? While viewers may be protected from offensive language on traditional mediums like television, online there is little to no way to implement such a policy.

What’s YouTube’s take on the subject?

Obviously unnerved by the developments, DeFranco requested some clarification from the video hosting giant. While he was denied an interview with a site representative to “hopefully fill in some of the holes of what they’re saying”, he was sent a public statement from the company, which he goes over in great detail in follow-up video ‘Youtube Responded, But It Gets Even More Confusing…’

Google, who own and run YouTube, are adamant that there has been no change to the rules, simply the way in which uploaders are reminded to stick to them.

“While our policy of demonetising videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn’t changed, we’ve recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication,” said a spokesman.

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