YouTube is facing a backlash from creators angry that the video giant is blocking advertising from running against content it deems inappropriate — while the Google-owned video giant says it has not actually changed its policy.
The furor spawned a trending hashtag on Twitter, #YouTubeisoverparty, with creators expressing displeasure over the situation.
Popular YouTuber Philip DeFranco, who has 4.5 million subscribers, is one of the leading voices expressing irritation about the service’s pulling ads for violating its terms of service. He said ads were disabled recently for 12 of his videos apparently because they included “excessively strong language” or covered “controversial or sensitive subjects,” thereby running afoul of YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines.
“By taking away monetization, it is a form of censorship,” DeFranco said in a video posted Wednesday, while he also acknowledged that YouTube is within its rights to enforce ad policies as it wishes.
According to YouTube, it hasn’t changed its policy about what content is deemed advertiser-friendly. Rather, it recently adopted a new notification process that alerts creators via email when their videos have been found in violation of the policy, whereas they previously would have had to check an individual video’s analytics dashboard to see that information.
Ironically, YouTube started issuing the notifications in an effort to improve communications and transparency with its creators about the policy, which has been in place since YouTube began serving ads on the site. As part of the change, YouTube now offers a formal way to appeal decisions about videos found to be inappropriate for advertising.
“While our policy of demonetizing videos due to advertiser-friendly concerns hasn’t changed, we’ve recently improved the notification and appeal process to ensure better communication to our creators,” a YouTube rep said in a statement.
In July, YouTube roiled its creator base after many saw a sudden drop in their subscribers counts, which the service said happened after it fixed a bug that prevented accurate figures from displaying on the channels. YouTube also has been the target of complaints by creators that their videos have been disabled by bogus copyright claims; the site earlier this year adopted a policy that will let videos continue to generate ad revenue while ownership disputes are evaluated.
Other YouTube creators tweeted humorous or infuriated takes on the brouhaha over the ad-inappropriate content issue:
— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) September 1, 2016
The Vlogbrothers probably got the most hilarious demonetization notice. Shows the variety of content affected. pic.twitter.com/lRrGkN5HSY
— Hank Green (@hankgreen) September 1, 2016
Sorry guys theres no new video tomorrow, I accidentally said the word 'moist' and I'm scared YouTube police will kill me #YouTubeIsOverParty
— Sam (@Samkingftw) September 1, 2016
Gizmodo first reported on the YouTuber ire about the perceived shift in policy.
In addition email notifications about ad-inappropriate content, YouTube will now displays a “$” icon in the video manager section that will appear as yellow with the messaging “Not advertiser-friendly” if it’s in violation.
According to YouTube, to determine which content is ineligible for advertising, it uses a combination of automated checks (such as video title, metadata, and visual imagery), as well as content flagged as inappropriate by users or advertisers, which are able to control where their ads appear on YouTube.
Google’s YouTube advertising policy says content that is not “advertiser-friendly” includes: sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor; violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism; inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language; promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items; and controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies “even if graphic imagery is not shown.”