How Advertising Policy Affects Free Speech

By; Josh Levin

YouTube is the biggest name in web video at the moment. The reason why I say at the moment is because the internet is a cruel and ruthless place to do business and one mistake can be enough to take down a company. These mistakes can be as simple as having your CEO be part of Donald Trump’s advising board even if they outwardly do not support him (Uber), to as complicated as a hack. Social media platforms live and die by the hands of their users or their inability to take a unique concept to profit (Meerkat).

            The way that YouTube makes money and manages to stay relevant is by keeping their creators happy and decently paid. YouTube shows ads at the beginning of many viedos and shares the revenue generated with the creators. This payment is sometimes up to 30% to the creator and the rest to Google. Their payment or monetization process used to be highly impartial and content neutral, but recently YouTube has been picking which videos get to have these ads based purely on their content. If a video goes against the new guidelines then they can take away the ads. The issue with this is that the wording of the new policy is highly subjective and does not give creators a clear image of what this content could be. In YouTube’s terms and conditions it says,

“Content that is considered “not advertiser-friendly” includes, but is not limited to:

·       Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor

·       Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism

·       Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language

·       Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items

·       Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown”

The issue that many people are having is with the third and last ones. The issue with bad language on videos is that many famous YouTubers swear. Markiplier is one of my favorites, and has a squeaky clean and uplifting image, but he uses foul language as part of his online presence.  While he makes his money in many other ways, it would be highly unfair to rob him of possibly thousands of dollars because he swore in a video.

      The scarier of the  two that are contentious is the last one. What it is basically saying is that talking about any potentially controversial topics on YouTube is enough to have the funding for your video pulled. This means that news channels like The Young Turks and Philip DeFranco could have their funding pulled for talking about the recent election or even their thoughts and feelings on a movie. Another issue is that the language is highly vague and not specific enough to apply to people who are abusing the system.


In the rest of this post I will talk about. I will get to writing this very soon, I thought that this was due a bit later.

·       The positives and negatives of this system

·       How this policy is changing the community on youtube

·       How creators feel about this policy

·       How advertisers are benefiting and being hurt by this policy

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