Early in March of 2017, a controversy erupted within YouTube’s content creator community. People creating certain types of content were being targeted and demonetized. While many onlookers would find this demonetization surprising and unexpecting, things had been boiling over for a while.

YouTube gets a great deal of its revenue from advertising in many different avenues. When an individual creates a Youtube account, they automatically create video history after they start watching videos. While this can be a creative tool for backtracking and watching videos you love over and over again, it all streams into a video queue. If a YouTube user watches a lot of sports videos, then their YouTube queue will start featuring more and more content around athletics. A YouTube user’s video queue is fitted to their tastes. Advertising streams off from this in many ways. YouTube can fix the aforementioned YouTube user’s account to see sports oriented advertisements that have deals with them, earning revenue from hosting. Or they can give the user’s information directly to the advertisers so the advertisers can see what other groups they could add to their advertising targets by studying the user’s other interests. YouTube can also show the user sports oriented surveys and see which advertisers methods are the most efficient by asking the user which ones they’ve heard about or lead to them pursuing a service from the advertisers. The advertisers can then tweak their methods, thanking YouTube for their information monetarily.

All of this comes to a head with YouTube users who also create their own content. YouTube users who create their own content can get a cut of revenue too. Previously, I mentioned that YouTube can study a user’s queue to determine what kind of content they want so they can fit the advertisements they will see to something they will actually pursue. When a YouTube decides they want a cut of the profit, they can make this process even more refined. A YouTube content creator is directly communicating their audience at all times in the comment section and through their videoes. They can tell YouTube exactly where their audience would be more receptive to advertisements and what kind of targeted ads they respond to. Then they can choose exactly where in their videos the ads will pop up. If they are a successful content creator, then more people will click on their videos, and more people are likely to click on the ads. If someone responds to an ad through their video, they get a cut of the money, which increases with the number of views their video gets. This process makes advertising more effective and makes people on both sides, YouTube, advertisers, content creators and the audience happier. Some YouTubers make a living using this method.

As you might’ve guessed, the demonization of certain types of content interferes with the YouTubes making a living using the ad feature. Demonization is when YouTube automatically disables the YouTuber’s ability to turn on ads automatically. Being demonitized means a YouTubes can no longer receive money from ads being placed on their videos because there are no ads on their videos. A YouTube content creator can put in a “dispute” or a type of complaint if they believe their video is being unfairly demonitized, but it can take days or weeks to be processed.

YouTube’s new algorithm tweaks the system so demonetization happens to channels that have foul language or disturbing imagery because these two topics are concentric with hate speech channels. Hate speech channels promote ideas such as racism or vitriol towards certain people, practice advertisers definitely do not want their ads to be associated with. Oftentimes they will pull their advertisements from Youtube, costing the business money. So YouTube is demonetizing channels with foul language or disturbing imagery. However, this process incidentally ropes in news channels reporting on hate speech channels, hate speech advocates or anyone that happens to swear in their content.

Here’s a link to my Hypothes.is annotations: https://hypothes.is/users/at18258

CC BY-SA 4.0 YouTube Changed Its Algorithm by Alexandria is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

1 Comment
  1. Vesna 5 months ago

    Alexandria
    Thank you for writing this piece. I myself watch a ton of youtube and when I here about this topic its only ever brief and uninformative. Thank you for adding detail as to the process along with how the demonitizing affects smaller youtubers.
    Sincerely,
    Vesna Sot

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