Whether you consider it a social media platform in the purest sense or not, there is no denying the incredible impact of YouTube. As the second most visited site and second largest search engine after Google, YouTube is tough to ignore. The Google owned company accounts for 1 billion hour of watch time per day and has 1.9 billion (logged in) monthly users and whilst the platform does offer its own original content, the basis of its platform is user created content. However the relationship between creators and YouTube is not always positive.
Depending on the content you consume on YouTube you are likely to have come across a group claiming unfair treatment by YouTube, following demonetisation. The reality is whether or not there is any bias on YouTube’s part demonetisation is affecting channels of all types and sizes. YouTube has faced advertiser boycotts following showing ads alongside unsavoury content and attempts to prevent this results in YouTube is removing AdSense monetisation from any content that could prove problematic, though the algorithms don’t always get it right. Threats to kill in the context of a video game cannot always be distinguished from genuine threats of violence for example.
Abuse of YouTube’s flagging policy (designed to flag content which community guidelines) by other users can also leave creators unable to monetise their videos through AdSense. Even the cases which are successfully appealed can be costly to YouTubers as they lose monetisation as they await the verdict of their appeal – usually the time where they receive the majority of views on their video. Users will abuse the flagging system In order to have YouTube demonetise the videos of creators they don’t like and these malicious abuses of YouTube systems also stretches to copyright claims.
Fortunately YouTube does seem to be making more progress in tackling the abuse of the copyright claims process. In light of blatant abuse of content ID claims YouTube is making updates to its process. The claiming process allows original creators of content to claim all AdSense revenue for videos which use their content. The intent behind the policy is to stop people unfairly using people’s content and making money from it but the problem it attempts to solve has gone full circle with people claiming videos outside of the intent of the policy. For instance a music creator could claim a video of someone filming themselves where music is playing in the background. Claiming videos such as these where the use of copyrighted content is minimal, accidental, or deemed fair use is outside of the spirit of the policy. New updates to the policy aim to reduce claims on cases of incidental use; “Going forward, our policies will forbid copyright owners from using our Manual Claiming tool to monetize creator videos with very short or unintentional uses of music. This change only impacts claims made with the Manual Claiming tool, where the rights holder is actively reviewing the video. Claims created by the Content ID match system, which are the vast majority, are not impacted by this policy.”
Every social media platform has issues which affects its users and creators and each is tackling them differently. Everyone from Facebook to YouTube has major issues facing them but changes such as these seem to be appeasing many creators and continued change in this direction could lead to a much better relationship between YouTube and its creators. All three of the issues covered in this post are largely issues due to users. The wide scale demonetisation is a response to ad placements appearing alongside content which broke community guidelines whilst the other two issues are an abuse of YouTube processes by users. Whilst YouTube is taking steps in the right direction, can YouTube solve an issue for its users when it is other users causing the problems?