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Gaming YouTubers claim that because of profanity regulations, their videos are being demonetized.

2023-01-13  Sophia Zackary

Swearing on YouTube has gotten more difficult in recent years.

YouTube's commercial standards were modified in November to include a new profanity policy, which places even more restrictions on what users may and cannot say in their videos. Instead of classifying curse words according to varying degrees of "severity," the practice has evolved to "treat all curse words identically." Videos that contain profanity in the thumbnail, title, or opening seven seconds of the video run the risk of having their monetization disabled. (The terms "hell" and "damn" are no longer regarded as profanities following this guideline.)

This week, gaming content creators have reported that the policy has affected them since films both new and old — even ones recorded before the new policy was imposed — have been labelled as having "low" potential for advertising income. Videos have been demonetized for anything as little as using obscene language in the opening few seconds of the clip. As a result of the new policy and the increased level of filtering, the most successful content producers on YouTube are beginning to question the continued sustainability of the site.

On Sunday, gaming content producer Daniel Condren, also known as RTGame on YouTube, uploaded a video in which he discussed his experiences with YouTube's recently amended guideline on the use of profanity. The producer of the video states that YouTube blacklisted a compilation video of his finest footage from 2022, which reduced the video's capacity to make ad money. YouTube also tagged it as "age-restricted," which means that it may only be seen by those who have YouTube accounts that have been verified as being above 13 years old using a valid government-issued photo ID. Daniel stated that as a result of this, the video did not acquire as many views, which in turn made it more difficult for him to make money off of it.

When Condren first uploaded his movie to YouTube, he had high hopes that the age restriction and ad income cap would be removed once it was examined by a representative from YouTube's support team. YouTube can delete content that violates its regulations as fast as possible thanks to a combination of human reviewers and machine learning technologies. If a user, such as Condren, believes that an error was made after a first strike, they can request that a real-life human analyse the material and determine whether or not it adheres to the criteria. Condren prepared his compilation film utilising his previously uploaded videos, which YouTube had not designated with any restrictions, thus he assumed the problem could be overcome by using those movies. Additionally, this was not his first time communicating with the support staff on YouTube. A year ago, when one of Condren's films was reported, he was able to have the situation handled when a YouTube employee watched the video in question.

However, it seemed as though his strategy would not work this time. After he brought attention to the problem by posting a request for assistance on Twitter, one additional video was reported as inappropriate for viewers of a certain age, and several more were demonetized. Daniel noted as he displayed images from a support email that YouTube remained steadfast in its position after a member of the YouTube support team saw the videos and evaluated them. Because it breached the platform's violent and graphic content restrictions, his video about the popular horror game The Quarry is now restricted to users of a certain age or older. The new cursing regulation resulted in other films being flagged for reduced revenue opportunities.

"It's so dismal that it's funny lol. Because I requested assistance from YouTube to restore my restricted video, [and] I had hundreds of other videos that were blocked. "I enjoy producing videos on YouTube, but this has proven that any success on the platform can evaporate on a whim," Condren told Polygon via email. "[T]his has truly proved that any success on the platform can disappear on a whim."

Polygon has reached out to YouTube for comment and will update the story whenever a response is received from the company.

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The level of irritation felt by those who create content has reached a tipping point. It is not just a matter of videos containing offensive language or the fact that demonetization can be applied retrospectively to videos that were uploaded before such limitations came into place. It all comes down to the specifics of the policy. People are technically able to curse even now. According to YouTube's policy, the "occasional use of profanity" in a video does not "necessarily" render it "unsuitable for advertising." This applies, for example, to the situation of a music video. However, the existence of these exclusions may give the impression that cursing is nothing more than a matter of fulfilling the requirements.

Some creators are trying to push these boundaries even further. SungWon Cho, also known as ProZD, is a voice actor, comedian, and gaming creator. In a short video titled "youtube is run by fools," he points out inconsistencies regarding the persistent lack of moderation for hateful content on the platform, while at the same time, swearing was becoming increasingly moderated. (In the past, Cho has made an appearance in the video material published on Polygon.) In his video, after the first 15 seconds have passed, he says, "Thank you, YouTube, you fucking donkeys," and then he later adds, "What a sensible policy that wasn't devised by a bunch of numbskull stupid fucks." A subsequent video claims that the first video has not been demonetized after it was posted.

"It's aggravating, and because of that, it encourages me to keep making preparations for a future in which YouTube is not a component of my life." "When abrupt policy changes may drastically affect your livelihood at the drop of a hat, you realise just how unsustainable this industry is in the long term," Cho said in an email to Polygon. "You understand just how unsustainable this career is when you realise just how quickly things can change."

Creators have complained about the lack of contact they receive from YouTube support, which is adding salt to injury. Condren claims that YouTube did not notify him when one of his videos was flagged for inappropriate content. He discovered this by sitting at his workstation and repeatedly pushing the refresh button on the page of his YouTube account to check for any updates to the ad income status of his films. "I have invested many hours of my life into the creation of this information. I take a great deal of pride in it. My entire life, I've imagined myself performing on stage and doing things like this. And so here I am, seated here, seeing portions of my income simply vanish before my eyes. No notice. "No trumpets, no horns," he emphasised in the video.

As a direct consequence of this, Condren has given some thought to the future of his affiliation with the platform. "I believe that it is more vital than it has ever been for me to distribute my material over a variety of media, including Twitch. According to what he told Polygon, there is very no security on YouTube since the regulations governing what is and is not permitted can be altered at any time and then applied backwards.

In response to the question of what viewers can do, Cho emphasised the significance of providing support to content producers in different ways.

"If there is someone on YouTube whose content you enjoy watching, I ask that you support them in other ways outside just giving them views. Follow them on other social media platforms, subscribe to their channel, share their videos, and interact with them. The best way to ensure that you will be able to continue to view more videos created by producers whose work you appreciate is to subscribe to their channels.


2023-01-13  Sophia Zackary