Multiple YouTube channels have been completely wiped off the face of the internet after the company went through a cleaning spree of channels that contained videos with the letters ‘CP’ in any of the video titles. This meant that many Pokemon Go channels with ‘CP’ in the title of the videos (which means Combat Power) were wiped out, the same as WWE Supercard channels that had ‘CP’ in the title that was shorthand for CM Punk, and Club Penguin-related channels that abbreviated the name to ‘CP’ in the video titles. This is because they related ‘CP’ as an abbreviation to “Child Pornography”, and instead of checking if the channels were safe, they terminated first and never asked questions later.
This was all chronicled in a post over on Kotaku In Action, which first caught wind of the news as various high profile YouTubers tweeted out about the issue when nearly all of their channels were wiped out on February 17th, 2019.
If anyone wants to help out, retweeting the above tweet and letting Team YouTube know about the situation could go a long way! This problem hasn’t just been affecting me, by the way. Several other large family-friendly channels were terminated without an explanation.
— Vailskibum94 (@Vailskibum94) February 17, 2019
In case anyone at @TeamYouTube is taking notes on today’s mishap, CP stands for Combat Points. I’m on board with fighting back against inappropriate content, but your algorithm needs a lesson in CONTEXT.
Also, just to reiterate, MANUAL REVIEW BY A HUMAN BEFORE TERMINATION pic.twitter.com/qHLP5GGe9J
— Nick // Trainer Tips (@trnrtips) February 17, 2019
If you’re unable to view the letter in the tweet, it explains…
“Hi Trainer Tips,
“As you may know, our Community Guidelines described which content we allow – and don’t allow – on YouTube. Your video HOW TO GET STRONGER POKEMON WITH HIGH IVs/CP IN POKEMON GO was flagged to us for review. Upon review, we’ve determined that it violates our guidelines and we’ve removed it from YouTube.
“[…] YouTube isn’t the place for nudity or sexually provocative content. Sexual content involving minors is particularly sensitive. YouTube prohibits uploading, commenting, or engaging in any type of activity that sexualizes minors. […]”
As reported by the BBC, the top three Pokemon Go channels that were wiped out shared more than 3.5 million subscribers between them, showing that channel size played no part in YouTube’s deliberate enabling of said termination.
BBC was unable to determine if the terminations were in response from a human manually deleting the channels or an algorithm doing it.
After a lot of contacting certain higher-ups at the multi-channel network corporations and at YouTube, the top YouTubers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers or millions of subscribers were able to get their channels restored.
My channel returned, and thank you to everyone who helped in spreading around my situation! This problem still exists in smaller content creators though. YouTube really needs to change…
— Vailskibum94 (@Vailskibum94) February 18, 2019
This affected quite a few channels, and it’s been reported that this was in lieu of having “CP” in the titles of their videos, which the algorithm allegedly interpreted as “Child Pornography”, and thus, proceeded to wipe out their accounts.
This has supposedly been a desperate Hail Mary attempt by Google to reduce content on the platform that contains “child exploitation”. A video from another YouTuber outlined one of the dark corners of the platform that allegedly contained such exploitation, and a bunch of advertisers pulled out, so YouTube implemented a new comment demonetization policy and have been shutting down channels or disabling comments across all videos on some channels.
In worst case scenarios, some people’s entire channels are wiped out overnight, which includes their entirely livelihood, which was pointed out in a video by Nicholas Oyzon, the creator of the Pokemon Go channel Trainer Tips, and one of the YouTubers who were affected by the automated termination.
In one of the more relevant parts of the video, Oyzon explains…
“YouTube is a platform. I know that creators make up a small percentage of this platform. But a lot of people make their living on this platform, myself included. This channel is my livelihood. This is my main source of income. Uploading these videos and generating ad revenue through YouTube.
“So to have an algorithm decide that my videos, my channel, is so inappropriate that I should not be allowed to upload or make videos, and essentially not be allowed to make money on this platform by creating content – it’s unbelievable that no human would ever get involved, no one at YouTube looked at this with actual human eyes and said ‘Mmm, actually our algorithm is wrong.’ And no human ever looked at what happened with the Club Penguin videos or the WWE videos, and decided ‘Maybe we should tune the algorithm a little bit. Maybe we should make some tweaks or some changes so that CP doesn’t always mean child pornography.’”
As pointed out in the video by Oyzon, not everyone was as fortunate to get their channel restored, especially if they didn’t have the ear of YouTube or the right connections to get in contact with the higher ups at YouTube.
Another Club Penguin content creator, Billiam, explains how distraught it made him realizing that his livelihood could have been over with at the blink of an eye for something he didn’t have any control over.
Some people have called for YouTube to become regulated like a public utility, since thousands of people use the platform as a form of actual work and livelihood. As some have pointed out, the electric company can’t shut off your power because they don’t like an opinion you posted online or broadcast over terrestrially syndicated networks.
@TeamYouTube @YTCreators @YouTube Hey guys, @SrRokos ‘ Club Penguin channel has been unfairly terminated for having the CP tag, youtubers @Thinknoodles and @Vailskibum94 had the same issue, pls help him, he makes very good and wholesome content, It would mean a lot for us!!
— Naruu no estoy muerto xd (@NaruIsNotDead) February 18, 2019
While some of the bigger names managed to get their channels restored in all of the content-termination ruckus, many smaller and mid-sized channels have so far been out of luck, and it doesn’t appear as if YouTube has any solution for these channels either.
(Thanks for the news tip Ebicentre)