News & Politics

YouTube Demonetization Targets Conservatives... and Atheists and LGBTQs?

YouTube is under fire for mass demonetization of content creators. It happened to me last week after having an article of mine read on the air by Rush Limbaugh. I don’t think it was a coincidence. Conservative or libertarian views do not seem welcome on YouTube anymore. If you run a search for demonetization on YouTube, you will come up with mostly conservative or libertarian channels that are complaining about unfair treatment. However, shortly after making this argument I was contacted by Hemant Mehta, the Friendly Atheist, who assured me that it’s not just us — atheists and LGBTQ channels are also being demonetized.

The atheist channels he sent me would still fall into the libertarian category based on some of the cultural issues they talked about, so I remained unconvinced. There are some LGBTQ channels also being restricted or demonetized. YouTube appears to be using an algorithm that automatically flags what they consider to be content that is not “advertiser-friendly” and yanks the ads from those channels, rendering the creators unable to profit off their content. The problem with this is that YouTube’s guidelines are so broad that a video discussing the shooting in Vegas is put into the same category as ISIS beheading videos. Unless you are an alphabet letter news organization, YouTube sees no difference between commentary on a shooting and an actual shooting.

But the vast majority of videos about the demonetization issue are made by conservatives, libertarians, and “alt-right” content creators. To see this for yourself, just search “demonetization” on YouTube and see what pops up. (Hint: There are very few hysterical purple-haired DACA recipients ranting about demonetization.) Perhaps there are more right-leaning channels on YouTube because of the lack of other outlets across the media, which would explain why they seem to be unfairly targeted. Or maybe YouTube is engaging in a site-wide purge of channels it sees as problematic in order to morph into something YouTube was never meant to be — a platform for stars backed by big advertisers.

I may have been convinced that this is all one big automated screw-up that is affecting everyone, but that was before James O’Keefe dropped his latest undercover sting where he caught a YouTube employee on camera admitting that while the algorithms are automated, there is human interference too and those humans have an agenda. To give you an idea of what the agenda is, this YouTube employee was wearing a Black Lives Matter t-shirt.

Are we really going to continue pretending that YouTube is applying rules equally to everyone? Because they aren’t. Not even a little. YouTubers like Casey Neistat are demonetized for making videos about the Vegas tragedy. Meanwhile, hot star Jimmy Kimmel is given big advertisers and the number one trending video on YouTube’s front page on the very same topic. This is absurd. Are there no lawyers willing to take on YouTube? There’s a class-action lawsuit here somewhere.