YouTube announced they will be reducing the visibility of conspiracy theories just in time for Shane Dawson’s new conspiracy theory special. This new change might have cost Shane Dawson thousands of dollars. I spill the tea.
YouTube Blog Announcement
On January 25th, 2019 YouTube posted to their blog about a few changes to their recommendation system. This is what they said,
“we’ll begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways—such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.”
As usual, YouTube corp is their vague selves. Essentially, what they’re saying is conspiracy theories don’t necessarily violate the community guidelines. However, people who make such content could be punished regardless. If a person makes a video YouTube deems to be a false conspiracy theory, that video is not going to appear in recommendations.
This is bad for some creators who make conspiracy theory content. They can make sure that their videos fit within community guidelines. However, if YouTube decides they don’t want it, that creator can be hurt financially. If their whole channel is based on such content, they could be done for. Some of these creators could be affected.
So who is to determine what constitutes a conspiracy theory? At what point is a conspiracy theory allowed? Does it solely depend on YouTube corporate’s opinions? Look at it this way: if YouTube did something shady as a company, they could hide the videos that call them out, labeling them as conspiracy theories that aren’t allowed… somehow?
Not to mention how some conspiracy theories that are recognized as untrue now may be found to be true. For example, the US government stealing our data and reading our texts. That’s now known to be true since Edward Snowden. Further back people theorized that during the prohibition the government stole alcohol, poisoned it, and resold it to speakeasies. That was found to be true, resulting in many deaths. There has been many proven to be true of different magnitudes.
The fact of the matter is, with the technology we have now, we can convene to theorize and find legitimate threats or lies. Think of what could have happened if there was internet during the prohibition. If people got to talking about it, many lives could have been saved. I’m not saying that there is not a lot of off-the-wall theories, but you should never take everything at face value. And why should YouTube tell us what is or isn’t true?
On January 30th, Shane Dawson uploaded an hour and forty-minute conspiracy theory video. This comes five days after YouTube spoke out about hindering conspiracy theories. This is one part in his new series on conspiracy theories which has been a while in the making. Shane Dawson is known for his conspiracy theory videos that everyone loves and looks forward to. People were speculating on whether this will affect Shane Dawson’s new video.
Phillip De Franko stated, “I don’t think that they’re targeting people and videos like Shane Dawson.”
The day the video came out I personally was busy for most of the day. I looked through YouTube a few times in passing and to turn on some music. I didn’t see Shane Dawson’s video recommended anywhere. If it wasn’t for a Twiter notification, I wouldn’t have remembered. Normally, YouTube places videos of creators I consistently watch at the top; especially big creators like Shane. I thought it odd that I had to search for Shane’s channel and go to it there.
That could have just been me or a few people, I don’t know. I just thought I’d mention it.
That’s not where the attention lies. The big issue was Shane’s video being temporarily demonetized. Shane Dawson is one of the biggest creators on the platform. His videos bring in staggering amounts of views. In a video by Phillip De Franko he estimated a possible $60k loss for Shane during the period it was demonetized. The Verge estimated $12k.
it’s hard cause i knew that it wasn’t gonna be brand friendly at all and i totally understand my stuff getting demonetized sometimes. but i do feel like more advertisers should get on board w/ edgier stuff. if youtube wants a netflix demo i think it needs edgy content too.
— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) February 1, 2019
The Verge and Franko on Blast
Frankly, not many have talked about this demonetization. Which led to Phillip De Frankos video. Franko stated, not speculated, stated that it had nothing to do with conspiracies but had to do with footage of the BirdBox challenge. This is very plausible, however, he didn’t do his own research and just copied The Verge’s article. The Verge states that this was the reason and then only quotes a “YouTube spokesperson via email” as saying,
“To show ads, videos must comply with our Advertiser-Friendly Guidelines, Sometimes we get it wrong when determining whether a video is suitable for advertising, so we encourage creators to appeal for a review if they think there’s been an error. We work quickly to restore advertising as soon as we’re made aware of a mistake.”
YouTube made no public statement about the reason and does not often state why these things happen. I’m just saying, be careful of your sources. Phillip doesn’t have a great track record with that. The fact that multiple outlets are quoting The Verge is not an excuse.
The weirdest thing is that on tv channels this isn't a problem. If i can watch channel four at midnight and see ads for sex toys then why is youtube not using that system of using age of user plus time of viewing. Considering all the spying google does on us.
— Pussy (@VULTURECHEST) February 1, 2019
But hey, that’s just a theory.