I have more or less come to a decision: I am not going to pursue a career in video-making. Yes, I love making short films and yes, I do post on YouTube with decent frequency, but it’s not a smart career. Trying to make money with it can’t possibly be a good option; not when you consider all the shit content creators have had thrown at them by now, all within the span of one year.

We survived the kerfuffle of the automated and/or fraudulent copyright strikes that only fell upon video makers who had Fair Use on their side whilst sparing those who would steal entire videos just to “react” to them, and we lived to see another day after entire YouTube channels started vanishing due to false accusations of breaking OTHER community guidelines. But now something else has happened. Something that neither robots nor butthurt film directors are culpable for.

dumb youtubeTo make a long story short: the Terms of Service have (apparently) been altered, and YouTube will now start depriving content creators of the ability to monetize their videos if they contain certain elements, be it sexually suggestive content, naughty language, drug use (or drug references), violence, or other things that aren’t deemed “advertiser-friendly”. And yes, as far as I’ve gathered, this time around your content is screened and reviewed by actual humans as opposed to computers¹, and as soon as they see taboo subjects and bad words (or whatever bullshit they themselves deem as such), you’re pretty much out of the game. You are “not advertiser-friendly”. You lose.

As one MysteriousMrEnter rightly points out in the following video, asserting that sex, drugs, violence and heavy swearing aren’t “ad friendly” elements is at best questionable in a day and age where the most financially succesful movies and shows include South Park, Sausage Party, Family GuyGame of Thrones, and The Wolf of Wall Street:

One of the first major YouTubers to be struck by this is professional click-baiter Philip DeFranco, and ever since he came out with it (supposedly long before then as well) we’ve seen it happen to more and more people. Certain users have even had their content de-monetized for bringing up topics like suicide and depression in helpful and good-natured ways.

Videos that contain pictures of a Syrian kid drenched in ashes and blood, meanwhile, get to collect ad revenue just fine. Another classy site update, YouTube. Well done. No really, well done! Make sure you wipe real good with those dollar bills.

You know, in a strange way, this feels like a both hilariously and tragically misguided attempt to answer our pleas. After Doug “Nostaliga Critic” Walker sparked the “Where’s the Fair Use?” campaign, which was followed by GradeAUnderA’s #MakeYouTubeGreatAgain movement, it seemed that people’s complaints were no longer falling on deaf ears. People (human beings) working for YouTube made it clear that they were hoping to improve the website for its users, so that things like unfair takedowns and copyright notices would no longer happen. So, what if they also decided to try to rid the site of all the legitimately harmful channels by introducing a system that accidentally fucks all the good ones in the meantime?

What if this was done to get rid of shit like Drama Alert, or LeafyIsHere, or literally any malicious “Prank Channel” you could name? If this is the case, let it be known that when we wished for the death of YouTube channels that are sincerely offensive and hurt people, we did not mean that we wanted the entire website to be composed of innocent Toy Channels and fascinatingly brainless crossovers between Frozen and the Marvel Universe.

What it nonetheless boils down to is this: making money has gotten harder than ever for artists and content creators on YouTube, some of them with just barely a chance to get by solely through Patreon donations. Luckily, I’m studying to become a linguist and don’t work for YouTube so I can say whatever the fuck I want about their dumb shit and also beg you all to spread this story like the cancer it is and help make the website, as it were, great again. This needs to stop!

That’s it for now! Always know where your towel is.

1 I’m told bots and algorithms play a part too but that seems like something that would only work on the tags and description words you use. I’m not sure how it would detect cuss words and narcotics references in a vid’s audio.

EDIT: Something I didn’t illuminate when I initially wrote this article was the question of who specifically determines what is and isn’t ad-friendly on YouTube. Is it, as GradeAUnderA recently insisted, the advertisers themselves who pick and choose what words and tags they don’t want associated with their brand, or is it YouTube themselves, making assumptions as to what won’t make money or please sponsors?

The first one seems likely, but I have to ask: aren’t ads usually randomized? Is it not common to watch a person’s channel with AdBlock turned off and variably see ads for Burger King, a new movie in theaters, and shows on Netflix? If one single YouTube video is de-monetized, does that mean all those (possibly countless) different advertisers have collectively come to the conclusion that the things mentioned in that video aren’t ad-friendly? If that’s true, surely filing an appeal against the strike you get, which has already helped some of the affected YouTubers, wouldn’t do anything since the advertisers have already made their minds up about what they don’t want to put ads on? (I can imagine that CNN and Jimmy Kimmel work with advertisers outside of YouTube’s flagging powers, so I’m at least willing to take back my comment about the “Syria” clips.)

For the time being, I’m still gonna put some blame on the YouTube staff for implementing faulty and unfair auto-systems. It fits with their track record anyway.