YouTube has been called out by its community for its hypocrisy surrounding its monetization policies, with the video-sharing site accused of valuing contributions from celebrities over those who use the site as their full-time career.
YouTube has been at the center of controversy for months now regarding its so-called "adpocalypse," in which video-makers have seen their revenues plummet as a result of YouTube's stricter advertising policies. The issues first arose after several major brands pulled their ads from YouTube as a result of the site housing hate speech and "derogatory content," leading to major changes that have affected the finances of many creators. Many YouTubers have now started to look outside of the site to make up their lost money, with gaming-focused channels steadily moving to Twitch over the course of the past year for a more reliable, if slimmer, source of income.
This controversy has now led to the prominent channels h3h3Productions and Philip DeFranco speaking out against the site's conduct, criticizing its approach to the monetization of its videos. The controversy started after the popular vlogger Casey Neistat uploaded a "charity video," in which he announced that he would give all the Google AdSense money he received on a video about the Las Vegas shooting to victims of the attack. After uploading the video, YouTube manually demonetized it, leading to Casey posting the following tweet:
literally a video about charity.. where i state all Adsense is going to that charity.. youtube says NOT SUITABLE FOR ADVERTISERS pic.twitter.com/PBvHFNNuGy
— Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) October 5, 2017
Team YouTube responded by reminding Casey of their monetization policy, which is "to not run ads on videos about tragedies."
We what you're doing to help, but no matter the intent, our policy is to not run ads on videos about tragedies.
— Team YouTube (@TeamYouTube) October 5, 2017
However, h3h3Productions and Philip DeFranco both pointed out that ads were running on Jimmy Kimmel's monologue about the mass shooting, which seemed to contradict Team YouTube's statement to Casey. h3h3Productions went on to post screenshots of various ads appearing on the Jimmy Kimmel Live video, including one for GMC vehicles and another for Blade Runner 2049.
In a video titled 'YouTube's Rules Don't Apply to Everyone,' h3h3Productions' Ethan Klein expressed frustration at the ad changes and YouTube's contradictory statement regarding its policy. Pointing out how one of the ads featured on Jimmy Kimmel's video was for the American Beverage Association's Balance Calories Initiative, a promotion that has seen them partner with Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper. Klein pointed out how these brands had previously pulled their ads from YouTube as part of the mass boycott: "These are the same brands that boycotted YouTube ... these are the same guys that pulled their ads out of YouTube for being inappropriate. That caused these new guidelines so you can't put ads on tragedies unless you're someone that we approve... like Jimmy Kimmel."
"Nobody's sincere. These brands don't give a shit about monetizing tragedy, they've been doing it for decades on CNN. It's just about control and politics and money, and that's it."
Watch h3h3production's video below:
Philip DeFranco echoed Klein's thoughts in a video titled 'Dear Youtube...We Need To Talk. This Is Stupid and Ridiculous.' "Why is Kimmel exempt but apparently organic solo creators are not?" DeFranco said in the video. "The fact that even Casey Neistat — no offense to you Casey but you're essentially the golden boy of YouTube — the fact that they also hit him is incredibly telling."
"YouTube I criticize you because I love you," DeFranco concluded. "I wouldn't be where I am with you today without you ... but that doesn't also give you a pass to not give a f*** or bulls***. The responses to this seem like bulls***, they seem not true, people are tired of this and you can do better."
Watch DeFranco's video below:
While the YouTube bubble was destined to burst given the free-for-all nature of the site and the mounting pressure on its parent company Google to moderate it, the site's lack of communication with its creators and confusing statements regarding its ad policies are nonetheless frustrating for those who earn their living on the site. Whereas YouTube was once a bustling source of creativity, in recent years many creators have felt forced to adhere to vague guidelines in order to continue to stay afloat, leading to growing unrest and resentment. This appears to be just the latest in a long line of controversies for the site, with many more set to come in the future as its community continues to feel the after effects of its advertising boycott.