The Latest Trouble With YouTube

So, the folks at YouTube dropped a bombshell this afternoon – and like most bombshells, there’s a lot of collateral damage.

Let’s start at the start. YouTube, that behemoth of a video site, has had it’s share of problems lately. There have been mega-creators who have used racial slurs, and shown dead bodies. There have been content thieves┬ástealing and profiting off of other’s videos. There have been content creators working the system to show some very unsavoury videos to children. There have been instances of children being exploited and abused in the name of views. There have been ads shown on horrible, horrible content.

But the creator who filmed a dead body in a Japanese forest seemed to be the breaking point. People were very upset with YouTube, and how they handled the situation. As a refresher, they did not take down the video. Instead, it made it to their Trending playlist, before the creator themselves pulled the video, due to public outcry. YouTube took nearly two weeks to respond to the problem, and then responded in a way that made it seem like they thought they had handled it well. People disagreed.

So today, YouTube came out with a statement on their Creator Blog, talking about how they intended to improve their community.

If you were expecting more oversight of their mega creators, more reviews of Trending videos, more responsibility taken by YouTube, you were probably disappointed.

Instead, they attacked the little guys.

Content creators with fewer than 1,000 subscribers, and less than 4,000 viewing hours per year are no longer going to be part of the YouTube Partner Program. That means these small channels are no longer able to generate ad revenue for themselves.

They say they want to “prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube,” but that’s the key. Most people don’t make a living on YouTube. And what you’re saying, YouTube, is that us small fish aren’t worth the work.

They say this helps them “identify creators who contribute positively to the community”. So for channels like mine, with around three hundred subscribers, you’re saying I don’t contribute positively to the community? Ouch.

Not just ouch for me, but for every other small YouTuber that you have just labelled as either insignificant or offensive, based purely on the protection of your big fish.

You’ve made a clear statement that your primary goal is to protect your biggest stars, at all costs. That those of us who make videos for fun, or for smaller markets, or just for our friends, aren’t worthy of sharing in the benefits. That the pennies you paid them are somehow an affront to the thousands you pay your stars.

Yes, those of us with little channels don’t live off our YouTube spoils, but I for one was pretty proud of my first little paycheck. It made me feel like I was a part of the secret club, like I belonged to the greater YouTube community. 99% of your channels were making less than a hundred bucks a year, but I guarantee you, they all enjoyed that little payout.

They did pay a little lip service to one of their bigger problems – “the bad action of a single, large channel”. And what will that action be? They will schedule conversations “in the months ahead so we can hear your thoughts and ideas”. I’m not holding my breath on that one.

I know, the outrage on this is limited. Most folks outside of the YouTube community won’t care one way or the other; those within the community who are over the new thresholds aren’t very likely to want to fight for the little guys; those of us who are affected are too small to do much damage, in YouTube’s eyes.

I went through a few thoughts when this announcement came out. My first reaction was anger – this came out of nowhere, and didn’t seem to address the issues that YouTube has been experiencing lately. It seemed like, once again, they missed the mark.

Next, I just felt like YouTube was telling me not to waste my time. Like any channel under their new limits was either a “bad actor”, or just straight up bad. If you don’t have a thousand subs, then what are you doing here? Why are you wasting your time? I’ll be honest, I gave that some serious thought. Am I doing YouTube right? Maybe the fact that I’m under a thousand subs, after more than a year of work, means I’m not generating content that people want to see. Maybe I don’t deserve to be a YouTube Partner.

Where I’m landing on this is changing by the minute. I love creating my videos, and I love that over THREE HUNDRED PEOPLE have given me that virtual validation of subscribing to my channel. I love that little validation of those pennies in my AdSense account. I love tracking my views, and watching to see what gets hits. I love the creator community – the big channels, the little channels, the new creators, the old guard.

But I’ll be honest. I don’t love YouTube. And I know they don’t love me back.

YouTube is a business, and I can’t ever forget that. I create content that makes them money. I bring people to their channel. And they’ve just told me that I don’t deserve to share in their profits. Even if I know better than to love them, it still stings to be shut down like that. It’s not about the money, for me, per se; it’s about the complete dismissal of creators like me. Okay, and a little about the money. I used it to help further my channel.

But as they know, they’re the only game in town. Sure, I could just host my videos on my website. Guess how many hits those would get. I could post on Facebook – and have to pay before anyone would see the videos. No, YouTube is the only real spot right now to share videos with a larger audience, and they know it.

They know us small fish creators aren’t going anywhere. They know they have us right where they want us, and they know there’s not a thing we can do about it.

Except quit. It’s what you think about when you’re kicked down. Just giving up on it. If they don’t want to share in the spoils, why give them my content for free?

But I have 327 reasons not to quit.