YouTube Expands Ad Guidelines for ‘Moderate Profanity,’ Drug-Related Content

News or educational videos depicting 'violent interactions with law enforcement' also eligible for monetization

YouTube - monetization ad friendly policies

YouTube is getting a bit less bluenose-y about its advertiser-friendly content standards.

YouTube said it expanded its monetization policies to allow for moderate profanity — for example, “shit” and “bitch” — used in the first 30 seconds of a video. It already had allowed light profanity (like “hell” or “damn”) throughout videos and in video titles, as well as censored profanity (including the f-word and gestures like the middle finger) and infrequent usage of strong profanity (like the f-word) after the first 30 seconds.

In addition, YouTube will allow ads for more videos about “recreational drugs and drug-related content,” including those that “focus on the purchase, fabrication or distribution of drugs, such as the fabrication of home-made opioids” and “news reports about cannabis farms.” It also is granting more leeway for videos with adult themes “delivered through the context of humor” (e.g. romance and dating jokes) and for sex-education content.

And YouTube said it is expanding monetization on educational, documentary or news content that may include “violent interactions with law enforcement,” along with videos that contain “non-graphic, objective discussions of controversial issues.”

“Based on creator and advertiser input, we’ve updated our guidelines to allow more content to become eligible for full monetization (green icon) while continuing to maintain advertiser industry standards,” YouTube said in an update Tuesday on its support site.

It’s a continuation of YouTube’s gradual easing up on monetization restrictions. In 2017, as part of its attempts to become more “brand safe” for major marketers, YouTube began demonetizing videos and channels that ran afoul of advertiser-friendly guidelines. That crackdown — dubbed the “adpocalypse” — resulted in some creators experiencing significant ad-revenue losses.

Meanwhile, YouTube’s relaxing of its monetization rules related to drug content comes as more U.S. states have moved to decriminalize marijuana, with New York on Wednesday becoming the latest to officially legalize the use of recreational weed.

YouTube says it has more than 2 billion monthly logged-in users worldwide. More than 500 hours of content are uploaded to YouTube every minute, according to the Google-owned video giant.

A year ago, at the outset of the COVID-19 crisis, YouTube warned creators that it might pull down more videos than usual, including content that didn’t actually violate any policies, citing lower staffing levels during the epidemic.