YouTube Goes Haywire 2019

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The last few days, YouTube just went completely haywire. While I get the increase of automated copyright claims and strikes, possibly in preparation of article 13 in the EU. Some channels just got taken down for apparently not abiding by YouTube Terms of Service. While I initially thought it was just a quirk to the preparation to article 13 the news about big PokéMon GO channels getting terminated should have raised a flag.1 2 So Article 13 is a whole can of worms I'm not going to open this time.

Lots of channels got taken down the last few days. Most of those featured PokéMon GO or Club Penguin. YouTube, like always, did not comment a single word on why those channels got taken down. Bigger channels got their channels back, as before, no comment from YouTube what has happened. So what happened?

Here's what I found: On 2019-02-18, a YouTuber known as MattsWhatItIs showed that people commented time codes on videos featuring minors. Those time codes would lead to scenes which appeal to pedophiles. Although YouTube reacted immediately to his view, YouTube didn't react fast enough. He reached out to his fan base to pester companies into pulling ads from YouTube. And pestering the fan base did. And pulling the ads the companies did. Among the companies that pulled ads are Disney, Dr. Oetker, Hasbro, Epic Games, Nestle and AT & T. And mainstream media in the US picked up the story. They had to speed up with handling the situation — so they got their nukes out and stopped caring about collateral damage. Meanwhile, over here in Europe, as of today, 2019-02-24, no word about the issue yet. The debate about Article 13 seems to be more important here. And let's face it: it is.

So YouTube got forced to nuke the problem. Now YouTube goes haywire. Since “CP” can be read as “child pornography” lots of innocent channels got terminated. As a reminder, CP in PokéMon GO stands for “combat points” which is a very rough representation of the strength of a PokéMon. In Club Penguin's case, it's just the abbreviation of the game's title. If someone got “CP” in the title or tags in 3 or more of their videos, their channels got automatically terminated. While bigger channels have the luxury of personal contact at YouTube and can get their channels restored, smaller creators are just out of luck — months or years of hard work lost forever. Even if you got fewer, you still got to deal with the strikes you got. And no, you can't really appeal to YouTube. The system seems just to automatically reject the appeal based on “CP”.

Worst of all, the guy who started all this just tells the people whose livelihood he inadvertently temporarily or permanently destroyed to get a “proper” job and the people who call him out for reacting unreasonably disproportionate he just blames not care about the children as much as they do about their money, not wanting to accept it might provoke the collateral damage it actually caused.

And YouTube is not done with nuking the problem yet. Lots of family-friendly channels lost monetization on their videos. Still, no direct communication from YouTube to their creators. On Twitter, they finally revealed that dodgy comments can get a video demonetized — granted apparently only if the video features minors. Some other channels have the comments section disabled. 3 Here too, no direct communication as of why that happens. Everyone has to put together the pieces online to get the whole image.

At the rate it is currently going, don't expect the situation on YouTube to calm down soon. I'm expecting to read or see about more quirks and innocent channel termination tomorrow.

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