YouTube plans to change obscenity rules that have prompted backlash from creator • Zoo House News
YouTube’s gaming community took a stab at the company this week after some creators saw their old videos being demoed out of the blue.
Blame it on a new policy the company rolled out back in November to make certain types of content more advertiser-friendly. This change, made to YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines, overhauled the platform’s approach to profanity and violence.
The good news is that while we don’t yet know exactly what the company will do, YouTube appears to be listening to creators’ concerns.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve heard from many creators regarding this update,” YouTube spokesperson Michael Aciman told Zoo House News. “This feedback is important to us and we are in the process of making some adjustments to this policy to address your concerns. We’ll be in touch with our creator community shortly once we have more to share.”
In November, YouTube expanded its definition of violence beyond real-world depictions, including violent in-game content “directed at a genuinely named person, or actions manufactured to create shocking experiences (like brutal mass murder). The company said gore is fine in “standard gameplay” but only after the first 8 seconds of a video. The whole passage left a lot of room for interpretation, for better or for worse.
The changes to the obscenity policy were more drastic. YouTube announced that it would no longer count “hell” and “damn” as profane words, but would lump all other profanities together instead of differentiating by severity (e.g. words like “shit” and “fuck” would now be the same treated way). Additionally, under the new policy, “profane language used in the title, thumbnails, or in the first 7 seconds of the video or throughout the video may not be allowed to earn ad revenue.”
If the swearing starts after the first 8 seconds of a video, it’s still valid, but some of the changes impacted a massive amount of videos – many of which were made long before the changes were announced. YouTubers took notice of the new guidelines towards the end of December and watched as new restrictions were placed on some videos, limiting their reach and advertising eligibility.
YouTube creator Daniel Condren, who runs RTGame, explored the impact of the policy change on his own channel in a video that racked up more than a million views this week. Condren has grappled with the enforcement changes in recent weeks after seeing about a dozen videos demonstrated and his request to appeal was denied.
I’m so sorry to keep tweeting this – but suddenly 6 more of my videos have been restricted overnight including my Best of 2020. No notification from YouTube about these at all. This is really terrible @TeamYouTube pic.twitter.com/UHfSJA1FCt
— RTGame Daniel (@RTGameCrowd) December 29, 2022
“I really feel like my entire livelihood is at risk if this continues,” Condren wrote on Twitter. “I’m so upset that this is even happening and that there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to resolve it.”
YouTube hasn’t responded to our follow-up questions about how it plans to streamline the policy, but we’re certainly curious to see if the platform will reverse enforcement for old, previously published videos that creators could rely on for income.
With the burgeoning regulation targeting social media’s relationship with underage users, the company is clearly trying to make its vast trove of videos more age-appropriate (and advertiser-friendly). But retrofitting age restrictions and new monetization rules on a platform like YouTube is a delicate balance — and in this case, the changes had a quick, far-reaching impact, leaving creators little time to adapt.