The Smoke Signal

YouTube’s Demonetization Policies Have Been Infuriating Its Users

Kevin Valdez, Journalist

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This April 11, 2018 photo shows the YouTube logo displayed on the website’s homepage.

With a recent shooting that happened at YouTube’s headquarters at San Bruno, California and the backstory of the suspect, people should be reminded about how other YouTube users reacted negatively to changes to the site and having to cope with them later on.

Let’s face it, no website has had every rule stay the same since their existence, and YouTube is no exception. When the site was first launched, it set up a three-strike system for video uploaders that goes into effect whenever they violate a part of their Terms of Service, which prohibits the posting of videos that contain copyright-protected material, adult-oriented content, hate speech, illegal acts, or signs of violence, and it is still in use today. Now, the big problem that some of its users have is their videos getting demonetized, or deemed not advertiser-friendly.

Whenever a video is demonetized, the uploader can no longer earn ad revenue from that video. This is a mild rule that YouTube has in place, but some users who use the site regularly to post videos make it look like a big deal.

Last year, many companies pulled their ads from YouTube after it was reported that their commercials were playing before videos that seemed to contain offensive and hateful content. YouTube responded by implementing new policies on monetization and giving control to what videos their ads are displayed next to.

The harshest backlash came from YouTube users that earn ad revenue from Google’s ad programs and networks they’re a part of. People like Philip DeFranco and Ethan Klein, also known as H3H3 Productions, have said that hundreds of their videos have been demonetized without warning, and they can’t have a chance to appeal the decision. Furthermore, they also state that some of their videos have had their ads pulled from them unfairly.

Three months ago, YouTube imposed more rules to their monetization policy that affects smaller users mightily. When their videos get demonetized, they won’t be able to have a chance to repeal until they reach 1,000 subscribers and have tallied 4,000 hours of watch time from their own videos.

When asked how he would be affected if he had a striving YouTube account, senior Jesus Torres said it would affect him “moneywise.”

“Personally it doesn’t affect me because I know that I definitely do not have enough subscribers on my YouTube account to make me any money,” senior Branden States said. “Some of the YouTubers that I do watch have to deal with it a lot because it takes out, you know, their income and you know these videos that they’re making might not be inappropriate,[but] they’re deemed inappropriate.”

In the case of the YouTube headquarters shooting that happened a few weeks ago, the suspect, 38-year-old Nasim Aghdam, spoke up about being treated unfairly by the site, even going so far as to call it a “dictatorship.” According to a post on her website, the company only cares “for personal and short-term profits” and does “anything to reach their goals.”

A San Diego resident and animal rights activist, Aghdam has made videos consisting of workout techniques, rants against animal cruelty, and vegan cooking tips. She claimed that YouTube has been censoring her videos and preventing her from making more revenue from them. 

There is no free speech in the real world and you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system,”

— Nasim Aghdam

“There is no free speech in the real world and you will be suppressed for telling the truth that is not supported by the system,” her website read. “Videos of targeted users are filtered and merely relegated so that people can hardly see their videos.”

Police have said that Aghdam’s frustration against the company may have been the motive for the attack.

“She never hurt one animal, one ant. I don’t know how she did like this,” her father, Ismail Aghdam, told reporters. “I apologize to all the U.S. people, all the humans. I am sorry. I can’t believe it.”

Time after time people have seen YouTube users get angry at changes that affect either their income or how their channel is treated, but this is the first known instance of someone going over the line and planning a deliberate attack at the company’s headquarters. There’s no knowing how long it will take to cope with rule changes YouTube puts in place, but this should illustrate that not every website is perfect and that negative reactions to new changes and rules are common in our world.

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YouTube’s Demonetization Policies Have Been Infuriating Its Users