“New” YouTube Advertising Guidelines: What Does It Really Mean?

youtube advertising guidelines
Recently on Creator Wire, we covered a new change to the YouTube advertising guidelines. Well, it’s not actually a¬†new change- these guidelines have existed for the better part of a year, but the fuss is being raised now because people are drawing attention to them and it seems like YouTube is actually taking action against certain channels with certain content. In this article, we’ll discuss these so-called new guidelines and what they could mean for YouTube at large.

YouTube Advertising Guidelines

YouTube has decided that the only channels that get to benefit from Google’s advertising backend is content that’s appropriate for all audiences. At least, that’s what the page says and seems to imply, by painting with a wide brush over just about all of YouTube. These guidelines restrict the following:
  • Sexually suggestive content. Remember those sexy clickbait thumbnails? That’s not happening anymore.
  • Violence. This may not effect most people, since it seems to be discussing videos showing off serious injuries or acts of terror.
  • Profanity, vulgar language and harrassment. Many of the biggest YouTube channels regularly use profanity, and in the past there’s been no moderation on this whatsoever. I think this one is more about the ‘harrassment’ part, though- more on that in a bit.
  • Promotion of selling, using or abusing drugs.
  • Discussion of controversial topics, including war, political conflicts, natural¬†disasters and tragedy. This applies even when no actual imagery is shown.
Seeing all of that might shock you. These new YouTube advertising guidelines takes the standards of YouTube content and forces it down to daytime television levels- worse, even, since shows with mature ratings can still have ads on television and YouTube channels have no such options for that. This is the issue with painting with such a wide brush- potentially any channel on YouTube right now could be effected by these YouTube advertising guidelines.

The Reactions

Backlash. YouTube, Twitter and other social media outlets have exploded with this recent revelation, and some YouTubers are even starting to experience strikes on their channels because of YouTube advertising guidelines. At the time of writing, I’ve found two major cases that can be dived into: MrRepzion and PhillipDeFranco. The main thing that relates these channels is that they dive into controversial topics and actual news, and just about any channel that defines itself as a news channel is being effected by this, including The Young Turks and conservative voices around YouTube. PhillipDeFranco in particular has served as the primary voice on this topic. Just yesterday, he published a video discussing a dialogue he had with YouTube and their statement on what’s been happening. [embedyt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJKfe4jjUdg&width=400&height=250[/embedyt] You’re welcome to watch the entire video if you like, but I’ll give you the short version. Essentially, these guidelines have been here for months, and videos have been losing monetization…but that’s been happening silently. That is, creators haven’t been being notified about their content being blacklisted until now, and now that they’re aware, they’re learning that their money has been silently been being taken away from them for the better part of a year. In response to the changes made by these YouTube advertising guidelines, many creators are crying that it’s censorship. The channels themselves can still publish their content, but if that content can’t make any money, it’s a slow death for many channels: over time, they will no longer be sustainable, and the creators behind them will have to turn to other platforms or another job to compensate. There was an early day when YouTube didn’t monetize content at all, and some of our creators are from that day. YouTube can be a job for people nowadays, but once upon a time it was just a hobby. Are channels that look at YouTube as their jobs going to start to fade in the near future? What are the implications of these radical changes?

The Implications

The understood¬†implications of these changes mean that any YouTube channel could fall victim to a sudden loss of monetization for not following YouTube’s widely-brushed YouTube advertising guidelines. An even wider implication is that this could be an attack on free speech on the Internet: news and opinion channels are being particularly targeted by changes like these, and if YouTube is adapting these policies, what other platforms will? The Internet was started as a Wild West of sorts with very little moderation outside of individual forums and communities. This is why many communities on the Internet have a libertarian mindset: Old Media and establishment politics are an enemy to the New Media and unrestrained speech offered by the Internet. If things don’t change for the better, or they start spreading from this single case, the Internet might start looking a lot less like the platform for free speech that it once was. To be clear, free speech differs from harrassment. Channels like DramaAlert are most certainly responsible for harassment, and might even be the reason for these changes. Additionally, what’s being done here doesn’t technically count as censorship, since the speech itself is still allowed to exist and the government has no hand in it. But these YouTube advertising guidelines come close enough to censorship. Close enough to hurt any number of major channels from all around the site. If things change, we at Grin will be following this story to let you know as soon as possible. Stay tuned to our blog for more informative posts and news on YouTube.