YouTubers are still getting hit with demonetization from YouTube following the most recent algorithm overhaul this past quarter. With their new “Raters” going around rating content that they deem as “borderline”, which results in that content being filtered, removed from the recommendation tabs, or outright demonetized, it’s become tough for a lot of YouTubers to make bank on their content, even more-so now than before. This has hit the Mortal Kombat 11 community extra hard, because they thought they found a way around YouTube’s auto-demonetization algorithm, but it appears the bot is growing smarter.
YouTuber unCAGEDgamez did a 16 minute video covering the demonetization spree currently sweeping across his channel, which was uploaded on June 27th, 2019. It’s a fascinating video that fills up all 16 minutes with actual useful information. He covers how nearly all of his Mortal Kombat 11 content is being demonetized, how some of his Vlogs are getting demonetized, how filtered content is getting demonetized, and even non-Mortal Kombat games are getting demonetized.
He ends the video explaining how he’s going to have to change up the content because at his current rate he won’t be able to maintain content creation as a full-time job with the new demonetization filters in place.
The most relevant piece of the discussion centered around Mortal Kombat 11 happens within the first two minutes, where unCAGEDgamez explains…
“Before, when I uploaded a Mortal Kombat 11 video it would not get demonetized or age-restricted. As YouTube started getting more strict and they started demonetizing Mortal Kombat videos because of the blood – apparently it’s too realistic – and it’s not advertiser friendly, so they demonetized it.
“Then, Maximilian came up with the idea of putting filters over the blood, which then will mess up the YouTube machines and they won’t detect blood. That’s why a lot of YouTubers, if you guys didn’t know, made the Fatal Blows and Crushing Blows black and white or they put like a cool filter color over it so you don’t see the red. That did work for a little bit, but after a while YouTube would still detect the videos.
”Before if you didn’t put that filter [on] your videos would get demonetized like pretty much 100%. But then if you put the filter on, it would get hit maybe like 40% of the time, which is better than getting hit all of the time. But recently, even with the filters, they are still getting hit like, instantly. I have tried to upload four videos in the past couple of days and every single one of those videos has gotten hit by YouTube. They either got demonetized [or] age-restricted. And this is not even like – they got hit before I even made [them] public!”
He explains that just uploading the video and keeping them private saw them auto-demonetized. Basically all of his Mortal Kombat 11 content was demonetized or is being demonetized. Even videos that don’t contain any violence are being demonetized.
Now what this means is that it’s not just the content, it’s unCAGEDgamez’ channel.
We saw a similar thing happen before, where YouTubers tested uploading content with nothing but a black screen. Certain YouTubers, like Razorfist, had their videos automatically demonetized even when there was nothing in the video, which was put to the test back in 2017 when YouTube began implementing the new demonetization filters. What was discovered was that certain channels were tagged by the algorithm and added to a YouTube blacklist, which is what YouTube classifies as “borderline content”.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki explained how the new system works during a Re/Code event.
Also @nytimes reporter @kevinroose inquired about the thesis of his recent article “The Making of a Youtube Radical” in which he asked Susan if she agreed that Youtube radicalizes people to the Right wing. Since his evidence is ancedotal, she had a hard time answering pic.twitter.com/3g7mlhEYl8
— Pescatore🍿 (@JoshPescatore) June 11, 2019
What “borderline content” means is that it’s content produced that doesn’t violate YouTube’s rules, but it’s not content that they approve of for wider distribution. So they have independent “Raters” to rate the content and restrict it accordingly, which may include age-restricted flags, removal from recommendation feeds, or demonetization. It’s a curation process to create a chilling effect to curb the propagation of “borderline content”.
In this case, it sounds like unCAGEDgamez’ channel in combination with Mortal Kombat content, tags, titles, or references have been added to an auto-demonetization list by the algorithm. So even if the content is clean – free of gore, no profanity, no sexual imagery, etc., – the content is still demonetized.
This could be a combination of the channel being flagged plus the inclusion of the tags, titles, and content analysis. The latter part would be indicative of the algorithm parsing the content looking for visual or audio cues that YouTube determines to be “borderline” content. This was discussed recently in a Game Theorists video where they outlined the exact kind of issues that unCAGEDgamez is suffering from as a broader issue that will eventually kill off YouTube’s gaming community, save for Minecraft and Fortnite.
Basically, this is an escalation of censorship. If you can’t make money producing content for a certain kind of product – in this case, Mortal Kombat 11 – you’ll eventually just stop producing content for that product altogether.
But let’s say you do manage to weasel around the graphical content filters that trigger YouTube’s algorithm and you keep producing Mortal Kombat 11 content that isn’t entirely demonetized, you have another issue to content with WMG.
Yes, as mentioned in the video at the top of the article, the Warner Music Group have been going around copyright claiming and striking videos featuring music from Mortal Kombat 11, since it features licensed music from the Warner Music Group, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, who also happen to be the publishers of NetherRealm Studios’ Mortal Kombat 11. So even if you escape one form of demonetization, you have to deal with another.
The future of Mortal Kombat 11 and other violent games that YouTube deems unsavory or “borderline” doesn’t look good. One thing that both MatPat and unCAGEDgamez brought up that seems to be on everyone’s mind is DOOM: Eternal. It’s an ultra-violent game and one of the most highly anticipated titles of the fall. If it gets hit with a ton of auto-demonetization then it’s going to deter a lot of content creators from covering the game, which it turn could hurt its overall organic marketability and sales scope.
For now, it looks like making a career out of YouTube is coming to an end for a lot of content creators.
(Thanks for the news tip FightSJWCensorship)