Over the last 24 hours there has been a stir online surrounding a memo from YouTube regarding some impending changes to their monetization policy. The memo in question, titled “Additional Changes to the YouTube Partner Program (TPP) to Better Protect Creators”, has received both defense and criticism from some who describe it as yet another means by which YouTube is attempting to drown out smaller channels. This is an accusation that has be levied at YouTube’s parent company Google before as the Internet’s most popular video hosting platform has been reported as a loss leader costing possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to operate with little boost to Google’s bottom line.
One speculation ties this with a recent push by Google to feature more featured, paid content from major creators as well as the questionably-successful YouTube Red subscription service. By that, it is reasonable to assume Google is trying everything they can to keep YouTube around and make it profitable. It’s undeniable that Google isn’t exactly hurting for money at the moment with Alphabet, Inc. stocks on a steady incline in value, however things aren’t as simple as “They have a lot of money.”
The precarious anvil that has been looming over YouTube’s already aching head over the past few years comes in the form of controversial YouTube channels and a few high-profile creators finding themselves in headlines and hot water. If you were to ask me, most of the outcry surrounding otherwise innocuous creators like JonTron, Pewdiepie, and most recently, Logan Paul, is a distraction at best; fallacious at worst. It’s difficult to believe there is a massive influx of vile people on the rise in YouTube because of a few incidents (most of which were entirely overblown, yet a few were certainly questionable). However, this argument that one has to take sides because of “reasons” utterly escapes me.
So, a quick rundown of YouTube’s policy changes indicate a few details. First, the article points out troubling issues in YouTube that have been ongoing. Immediately, the recent controversies about bizarre Flash animations featuring Disney characters and Donald Trump in compromising or even horrific circumstances (that are apparently part of an AI-generated video scheme to hijack YouTube’s algorithm to capture views via auto-play program), to an increase in creators advocating support for things as horrific as pedophilia both come to mind. These are the “bad actors” that I imagine being a real sore spot for YouTube. Even more broadly, the requirements for the YouTube Partner Program have been strengthened and now require not only 1,000 subscribers at minimum, but also a cumulative 4,000 hours of watch time over the past 12 months with a 30-day grace period. These changes are slated to take effect on February 20th, 2018.
All of that sounds reasonable enough, but there is a spot where things start to get a little hazy. The article refers to “bad actors”, “abuse” and “harm” but never really explains what any of these mean. It then hotlinks to the article on YouTube’s Community Guidelines which is equally vague but at least provides some examples of what could constitute a policy violation. To make things even more concerning, if a channel does manage to achieve the requisite subscription base and view count, these creators then have to submit their own channel for “review” to finally get permission to monetize their content. The problem with this process takes me back to the nebulous terms like “harm”. Is there any way a video reviewed on such a basis can be done so objectively? From the way it sounds in their own post, even if a channel is big, whether or not the creator can monetize their own creation is entirely at the subjective whim of a handful of thus far unidentified reviewers. I find this to be suspicious and believe it will likely contribute to much of the content that made YouTube famous leaving for good. Some video hobbyists may be forced to reconsider whether or not it is even worth suffering the slings and arrows of the video streaming giant’s new terms to even justify putting in the effort. As for myself, I do not know if I really even want to start going down the YouTube path. I simply do not have the time, hence the infrequency of posts on my own damn site.
I felt compelled to weigh in on this a little bit as I want to do a little more editorializing on news and events surrounding popular culture as, while lists and reviews are certainly more fun to write, I also would like to share some thoughts about other goings on in the world of entertainment. That said, I plan to have another review up in the next few days so here’s hoping I can keep up some momentum…