Is YouTube Getting Political?

Recently, I have seen quite a few YouTube videos explaining the new monetization scheme for the YouTube website.

As you may or may not know, content providers for YouTube are compensated for their videos (as long as they have a minimum of 10,000 lifetime channel views) based upon money from ad revenues. There is an algorithm based upon the number of views each video receives, to pay the video creators for their time and efforts on the site. This monetization scheme has come under fire lately and it is hurting many YouTube content creators, many of which have a certain political leaning, leading some to believe that this change is an attempt to shrink one particular political viewpoint.

The changes to video monetization came about due to issues brought up by advertisers, with YouTube ads on videos that included hate speech and inappropriate content. Some of the video content that was objectionable to advertisers include, racial slurs, holocaust deniers, and others. In response, YouTube changed their rules on how your video gets monetized, and more importantly, what content gets monetized.

There is a long list of content that is not advertiser friendly and therefore not subject to YouTube monetization. Some items on that list include sexually suggestive content, violence, inappropriate language, drug use, or controversial or sensitive subjects. I emphasized the last one because it is probably the most important item on the list. YouTube has the right to demonetize your video if it deems your topic or content to be controversial or sensitive. What exactly is controversial or sensitive? That particular item isn’t defined, so it is therefore left up to the observer.

Extrapolating the list of content not allowed in monetized videos, we find quite a few YouTube channels affected by mostly the last point: controversial or sensitive subjects. YouTube giants like Philip DeFranco, who has over 5.4 million subscribers, and PewDiePie with 55 million subscribers, to smaller channels like hickok45, Iraqveteran8888 and 22Plinkster have all felt the effects of demonetization over the past year. More recently though, those effects have affected the more conservative channels the greatest. RoamingMillenial and Louder With Crowder are the most recent channels to post about their demonetization and how it affects their channel. One creator, ThePatriotNurse, has noticed that videos that just mention Jews or Israel (because the creator is in fact Jewish) has caused some of their videos to be demonetized.

On the flip side, you have YouTube news outlets like The Young Turks, which has a small paid subscription service, but has a very strong revenue source in YouTube videos, has not mentioned any issues with demonetization of their videos. Interestingly enough, The Young Turks has a very strong liberal bent to their political leanings. So, the moral of this story is that if you lean liberal/progressive, your chances of making money with YouTube is greater than if you lean conservative.

From the surface, it appears that YouTube/Google is attempting to do kind of a backdoor censorship of the conservative/right-wing viewpoints. Gun channels where gun safety and reviews are uploaded have had nearly every video demonetized, even though they are not promoting any kind of violence. ThePatriotNurse is a conservative channel that promotes medical preparedness for worse-case scenarios and many of her videos are demonetized.

Obviously, YouTube and Google are private companies and have every right to limit their content. In the same manner, advertisers are spending their money and have every right to request certain types of pages not be included in their ad distribution. The problem is, many of these channels were built from the ground up on YouTube and have invested a lot in the platform, from video equipment to editing software to make their videos top notch, and many of them rely on revenues to continue adding high-quality content to their channels. YouTube seems to be taking them out of the game by taking away their incentive to provide good content.

How do you know if a video you watch has been demonetized?

If you watch a video that does not have an advertisement before the video starts, or doesn’t have a banner ad somewhere during the video, it has likely either been demonetized by YouTube, or the creator has not requested monetization for the video (likely it’s the first option).

What can you do to help?

Most creators have other jobs that allow fluctuations in revenue to go without any ill effects. So a loss of YouTube ad revenue doesn’t hurt them personally, but it will likely affect content on their channel. You might see less videos, less often. You might see a change in the content, spending less money on props, effects, etc. Some of the creators have set up pages on crowd sourcing websites to help fund their videos. You can certainly help there if you feel the urge. Others have requested you give money to a charity and that it will show them they are wanted and will promote a good cause. But no matter what you do or don’t do, continue to support your favorite channels with views and “thumbs up”. Nothing speaks louder to companies than popular items with a lot of support. Share the videos on your social network pages to get more views. Comment and tell them you like their content and want to keep seeing more. Spread the love.

Let’s not let one company tell us what we can and can’t enjoy for entertainment and education. If you are a YouTube creator, keep up the good work. Don’t give up and don’t be discouraged.

Don’t let YouTube censor you.

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