There may be claims that YouTube’s new demonetization bots are just being selectively random, picking out videos to demonetize based on tags and headlines, but after some anti-SJW videos were first targeted for demonetization a lot of people became skeptical about how “random” YouTube’s policy bots actually are. Well, it turns out they’re not quite as random as you may have been led to believe.
Verified YouTuber Computing Forever recently did a video about the new enforcement of YouTube’s year-old policy regarding their ability to demonetize videos based on a vague list of rules. He put the video together while he was on vacation.
According to Computing Forever’s Dave Cullen, a few of his videos have been hit with YouTube’s new enforcement policy, proving that while they may have claimed to Kotaku that they’ve always been enforcing their standards, some YouTubers are showing that this hasn’t always been the case.
During the 17 minute video you can check out below, Cullen talks about a new network called Minds.com that he and various other YouTubers and content creators are trying to get off the ground.
But the real news is that he briefly showcases his video manager where it’s revealed that three of his videos have been hit with demonetization; one of which includes a video entitled “4 Reasons Not To Vote For Hillary Clinton”, which was published on August 10th, 2016.
As you can see in the images below, the video does not have ads (no yellow markers on the timeline) and is not eligible for monetization.
Now one thing that helped make people both frightened and comforted was that The Young Turks were supposedly hit… hundreds of their videos demonetized. Some people consider them to be advocates of the Regressive Left. The news about The Young Turks helped defuse some of the theories that YouTube was only targeting people critical of the Regressive Left, also known as Social Justice Warriors. This led people to believe that both the Left and the Right were being hit in equal manner.
Well, interestingly enough, various videos critical of Donald Trump have not been demonetized. In fact, videos critical of Donald Trump that explain why you should not vote for him are still up and available and fully monetized with ads.
Chris Morales has a video entitled “17 Reasons Donald Trump Should Not Be President”. The video is still monetized, as evidenced in the screenshot below.
WillNe — who has around the same amount of subscribers as Computing Forever — has a video up entitled “5 Reasons Not To Vote For Donald Trump”, and as you can see in the screenshot below, it’s still fully monetized with ads.
Some of you might be thinking that perhaps they’re only targeting smaller outlets and maybe Computing Forever wasn’t big enough to escape having his critical Hillary Clinton video demonetized. Well, that theory would have worked out had smaller YouTubers like Emmy Ameh Praise ended up on the naughty list and videos like “10 reasons not to vote Donald Trump” were demonetized as well… in which case, it is still monetized. You can see the screenshot below with ads running throughout it… it’s even a Google ad at that.
The thing is, political videos of a rather controversial nature are supposed to be subject for demonetization. To refresh your memory about what’s posted on the Google advertiser support page and what is subject for demonetization, it’s stated…
“Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown”
So why is one video giving people reasons not to vote for Hillary Clinton into the office as the President of the United States demonetized, but a bunch of videos telling people not to vote for Donald Trump are still monetized?
Now as Cullen mentioned in his video at the top of the article, only three of his videos were hit. Surprisingly two of his videos about the Regressive Left are still monetized with ads, as indicated in the screenshots below, which were snapped on September 2nd, 2016.
It’s possible the bots are looking for specific keywords, such as verbs like “vote” and negative words like “not”, parsing headlines, descriptions and tags for names like “Hillary Clinton”. Obviously Cullen’s video(s) contained just the right kind of keywords to trigger the demonetization. Except… that theory falls flat when looking at other videos by other top name YouTubers.
Steven Crowder’s “Top 5 Reasons You CANNOT Vote Hillary Clinton” is still monetized. It was posted on July 20th, 2016.
WeAreChange also has a critical video up entitled “Why You Should NOT Vote For Hillary Clinton In 2016”. It’s also still monetized, and it was posted back on April 12th, 2015.
Back on July 31st, 2016, verified YouTuber Evan Edinger did a video entitled “Why I Won’t Vote For Hillary Clinton” and it still managed to retain ads.
It’s possible that since Cullen’s video critical of Clinton was only posted recently on August 10th, 2016, it may have been subject for quicker scrutiny as opposed to the older videos. Of course, since we don’t specifically know how the bots are parsing videos we can’t know for sure why Cullen’s video was singled out in the algorithm.
Some sites like Kotaku are claiming that this is not censorship, but by stripping people of their livelihood for covering certain topics in certain ways, it is an authoritarian strong-arming of content curation through monetary incentives. In other words, people are less likely to cover content for which they won’t be paid, and if an authority can indirectly stop the spread of content creation or the spread of information by withholding monetary funds, then that still falls within the boundaries of censorship.