The new YouTube policies on firearms are pretty clear. No more "How To build..." and "how to reload ammo" videos. No more videos sponsored by gun stores. No more full auto videos. No more videos with large magazine capacity (+30 rounds) and silencers. I expect a huge wave of video removals. Hickock45 and others will be massively affected. It will be interesting to see if they at least give these channels a chance to survive. But if they issue strikes for videos NOW illegal on the platform, then we just lost some of the largest gun channels ever, including FPSRussia. What I hate the MOST here is that once again, they change the rules suddenly and without notice. Nobody gets a chance to react before the changes apply. Mind you we are talking about totally legal things people have filmed. No crimes involved. Such rule changes must be discussed with the affected partners and there is a need for a transitional period in any case. We will fight for that. Is there hope that YouTube will change its mind and remove these new rules? I don't think so. They didn't make much money with the gun channels anyway as those carry no more ads. Why letting them stay? They will only potentially create negative PR. Another school shooting and the perp used a gun with a bump stock he saw on YouTube? The press would have a field day. A withdrawal of the new rule would be like lifting the no-porn rule. I see no chances for this. How will this continue? I personally believe this is just the beginning. If you have removed all gun videos with >30 round mags - why allowing others to stay? They will first remove ALL firearms content, then all other weapon related content. Swords. Knives. Maybe even toy guns, who knows. It is hard to see anything positive in this. But at least the rules are clear. And they open the door for alternative platforms, that now finally may have a chance to rise. If you are into guns, then you now have to realize YouTube isn't a place for you anymore. Sad but true.
I think that we need to specify the demands regarding changes of the rules by YouTube. I believe that it would be fair if YouTube would organize a hearing with affected Creators and discuss the plans so unnecessary bans are avoided. Also it is a must that new rules are not set into effect immediately, so that everyone gets a chance to clean up in a timely fashion.
This doesn't mean that I am OK with the new rules regarding firearms. In fact I don't like them one bit. In my book, if the video only shows legal content, then it should be allowed on the platform, maybe with an age restriction if that seems appropriate. Illegal content should be removed of course.
But I understand that sometimes the rules must be changed, or at least defined more clearly. I don't think YouTube should decide upon such changes just by themselves. The creators must have a say in the process too. Then at least the glaringly stupid bans could have been avoided, like the no-silencers-rule (that are legal devices in many countries and actually protect the environment) or the no-reloading-videos rule.
Several people are asking what we will do against this. Well, in my book we must first talk to YouTube. In case they are willing to negotiate, fine, we will try that in good faith. But in case they stonewall us, we will call all members to action. That may happen sooner than expected, now that so many gun channels are effectively wiped out.
The REAL problem with YouTube's new firearms rules
Okay, after reading the new firearms rules thoroughly, I think the content limitations aren't the problem. Most videos are still allowed. Just the links to sites that sell the guns and accessories mentioned will have to be removed. YouTube now says people have 30 days to do that. So they mellowed a bit.
You can still show guns with silencers on them and with mags larger than 30 rounds. You can't show how to make and attach these things, but filming the shooting fun with them is still OK. If a user wants instructions about making the things and attaching them, he can just hop onto google and will find web sites, videos on other platforms, complete PDF files with detailed blue prints. If someone wants to buy a gun or even a bump stock shown in the video, google will tell him where. Links in the videos add a bit of comfort, but it really isn't a big deal for the consumer to have these links no more. So this does sound like it is not so bad really. But it is.
Gun videos have long since been demonetized. Many gun channels simply switched to sponsored videos as an income model. They simply found their own advertisers.
But now YouTube takes these options from them as well. This leads to ultimate censorship. Making gun videos is expensive. The guns cost money. The ammo costs money. The production costs money. The creators need to eat, too, same goes for their families. Without funding, gun channels will simply disappear. It is my strong suspicion that THIS is the true goal behind the new rules.
YouTube can't hide behind the "big evil advertisers" that simply don't want their ads to be shown next to such content. They are now cutting off advertisers that WANT to be in the related videos. Mind you we are talking about legitimate, licensed businesses. They pay taxes and employ people. But they can no longer advertise their legal business on a video that features the products they legally sell.
This is content policy. Not business necessity.
YouTube clearly has stepped over the "we are just taking care of our business interest" line. They are now clearly abusing the power they have, being a monopolist.
This can't go on. We can't have a private company, no matter how big, deciding about politics. It is NOT THEIR BUSINESS and they need to be put in their place. It is time for the governments to step in. But we as a union will do our part, as good as we can.
OK, my dear fellow union members, I told you that I may ask you for your help eventually.
The time has come.
The new firearms rules are aimed at silencing gun channels. We can't take that. And we won't.
If we want our favorite gun channels to survive, we will have to contribute. Most if not all gun channels have a Patreon page now. Just go to their channel page and click on "about". The link will usually be right there.
I am asking you to support your three favorite weapon related channels with a dollar a month (or more!).
So please pick your channels, become a Patron for them, and then let us know in a comment to THIS post what your choices were. Of course, in case you already are a Patron, just list your choices too. This isn't just for new Patrons.
I will PERSONALLY give a dollar a month to EVERY weapons channel you guys list in the comments. If YOU support them, I will do so too. I am not rich but I will do what I can.
Yes, I know some of you guys may not like gun and weapons channels. But for the sake of a free internet community we must stand together now and fight censorship.
YouTube needs to learn that their power is not limitless. They shall not manage to kill channels that have done nothing illegal.
Several YouTubers have gone to the Pornhub sites in order to avoid censorship on YouTube. While I can understand the reasoning, for me that is not an option. For three reasons.
1. Creators are YouTube partners, not users. Google and us creators have built the platform together. It is not THEIR platform, it is OURs. So we need to fight for our platform instead of giving up. Moving to any other platform is admitting defeat. I am not ready to do that, as we are just at the beginnings of the fight.
2. Pornhub may not appreciate gun and weapon videos either. It is an ad site for commercial hard core porn videos. This does not mean that they are tolerant towards ANYTHING. Not everyone who loves porn also loves guns, and vice versa.
3. I do not want my channel to be associated with pornography, simply because my channel does not have anything to do with it. Therefore PornHub isn't an option for me.
Now that may change in the future. In case we lose the YouTube Wars (I think we are at the start of exactly that) AND in case the owners of PornHub start a new, separated website just for guns and weapons, then this may be an option as they clearly have the infrastructure and the cash.
But I don't really think this will happen. Their biz model is based on the fact that much of their free content is teasers and people pay for the full videos on the homepages of the advertisers. I don't think this model works for gun channels.
We have had some phenomenal growth since we started. By now we have more than 13k members, and we still gain plenty of momentum every day. That is cool! The more creators and users we can get, the more powerful we are. I think it would be nice if we all, on a chosen date, start a sharing campaign, showing our friends and followers that we support the union and asking everyone to join us. All platforms, all communication ways are welcome. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, reddit, forums, even emails, text messages and WhatsApp is great! For that purpose, a very cool picture, with logo and slogan, would be super good. So, do you have an idea? Share it here in the comments! Slogans, logos, just anything is appreciated. I am looking at next Saturday (the day before Easter) as a potential "YouTubers Union Day".
Good news, YouTube shifted the call again - but to an EARLIER time, not to a LATER one. We will talk tomorrow at 5:30 PM German time. They said I may not record the call but it is OK to report about it from my own memory. They also said they will provide written answers before the meeting - great!
They expressed hope that the talk will "bring us closer together". THAT sounds promising. We will see!
YouTube confirmed that even for demonetized videos, it is not OK to sell your own ads. No pre-rolls and so on.
A lot of you guys will now say "Not a big deal. Nobody ever came to me and wanted to book ad space directly."
But it IS significant. You wanna know why? Because YouTube's TRUE intentions shine through.
They want all those videos GONE from the platform.
They usually say that they only demonetize videos in order not to anger their precious advertisers. But here, we are talking about advertisers that specifically WANT to place their ad next to the otherwise demonetised video. Still, they don't allow it. They want to make sure such videos can not make ANY money. They want to dry us out, plain and simple.
I think we need to add this to our demands. Allow direct ad sales to demonetized videos.
They gave me permission to publish the written answers to my questions and also to share how the meeting went, from my perspective. They just asked me not to mention their names. I got the written answers to my questions before the meeting, but they were as expected: Useless. They simply copy-pasted text modules from other publications without addressing my direct questions. You can read the pdf (linked) if you want, but it basically is a waste of time.
Therefore, my expectations to the meeting were very low indeed.
We started on time. I had four people from YouTube in the talk. My main partner was YT’s Global Head of Monetization. I’ll call him Ghom in this text in order to respect his wish not to be named personally.
After introductions I started to mention the whole frustration of us creators with the entire situation, including the demonetization, strikes and channel removals. Ghom said he is only responsible for monetization and the community guideline people are totally separated. I pointed out that this part of the problem. To us creators, this is irrelevant. For us YT is one big entity, currently kicking us around hard. We don’t care that the kicks come from different feet. They hurt all the same.
I told them that many creators now see YouTube as an evil entity and if they want to change that, they HAVE to change the way how they treat their partners as a whole.
I believe that Ghom never saw it that way. My punch landed I guess. He actually mentioned that in the conclusion.
Further I directly asked him the same question I put up to YT so many time before: Are there hidden categories that videos may be put in so even though they have the green dollar sign, but they are still PARTLY demonetized?
Is my Oreo shooter really in the same drawer as an abortion video, so if an advertiser doesn’t want abortion he also automatically kicked my Oreo gun out too?
To my surprise Ghom immediately confirmed that. Respect.
Then one of the other participants stressed again that the bots learn and that the appeal process takes care of that. But Ghom new better, and I did too. The part demon’ing is hidden. The video looks normal. You don’t even see that they slapped it on and you can’t appeal. This is a 100% bot decision and nothing can change that.
I said many of my “green” videos now make at least 75% less money than before. So this is very severe. I asked that they first put on more detailed categories so advertisers can be more specific, and I also asked for more “dollar sign” colors plus appeal options.
Ghom called that valuable feedback.
I also mentioned the communication issues. We can not talk to the censors? You appeal, with exactly one short line of explanations, and then you get the same yes or no decision. No reasons. No change requests. Ghom asked me how my ideal solution would look like? More detailed guidelines? I said no – I want an email address of the person who reviewed my video. I want to find a compromise. More context here? Delete this scene? Blur that scene? Something like that. At least for the professional creators, maybe 100k subs and up. People took notes.
Then Ghom explained that the advertisers are getting more and more sensitive. What used to be OK two years back is now a no-no. I can see his point, but I also told him that I personally think YouTube is too soft towards the advertisers. It is easy to give in to their requests, so they come back and want more. As long as the creators have no common voice, they will be on the losing side of that game. I told them that the Union is not a “knee jerk” reaction but here to stay. Again, “great feedback” and “very helpful”.
I then mentioned that we don’t understand why we can’t sell our own ads for videos that are demonetized. YouTube does not want to put ads in anyway, so why not? Ghom said that this has to do with technicalities. YouTube wants to check each ad before the release, and this would be beyond their control. Also, different departments again.
I said that it feels tough for a channel that YouTube does not want to put their ads on the videos, but finding own partners is not OK either. For a gun channel (that can no longer put out videos sponsored by dealers), this means there is NO MORE way to make any money. I said if YT wants to kick these people out they should simply say so. Then at least the gun guys can go look for a new place to dwell as all hope is lost. They all said the whole process is still in development and there will be many more changes in the near future – silently implying that maybe my points will be addressed as well.
We ended the meeting on a friendly note, again everything was "great" and "helpful".
Of course they would have said the same thing no matter if they will now report all this to the CEO and ask for an emergency meeting OR if they will simply flush all that down the toilet. But I liked that Ghom was not avoiding my direct questions and honestly answered them, even if the answers throw a dark shadow over YouTube’s new policies.
I truly could not expect a “Yessir, right away Sir, we will do what you want and we will do it NOW” type of meeting. So I am not disappointed – but we will see how this continues. It is a first step for us. This won’t be over quickly. Our troops won’t be home by Christmas. Into the trenches we must move.
One of the problems I have with the demonetization system is that users don't see how unfair and wrong it is. Only the creators see these things.
I am offering support for all members here.
Once a month, I will put a video up on the YouTubers Union channel, with teasers for unfairly demon'ed videos, and the links of course.
So if you have "yellow dollar" videos that you feel should be "green", make a ten second trailer and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, via WeTransfer. Feel free to add a bit of explanation if you want. Include the link to the full video.
This will give people a feeling for how bad the situation really is.
I will release the first video after I have ten examples. I won't monetize those videos.
So we had the first talk to YouTube. It was about money. But we have many more issues I want to discuss with them. Strikes and removals by bots. Kicking out all small partners. Subs disappearing. Their "trending" and "recommended" system obviously favoring stuff THEY "like". New rules that they won't discuss with us before they impose them.
Now I will ask for more talks with specialists for these issues, or - better - with someone who can address ALL our points (like, the CEO?).
If they won't offer such talks, we will start our first "warning shots".
After the talks are done, we will ask them to provide a time table for changes.
If they refuse, more actions.
If they think this will go away because of this single 30 minute conversation, they are mistaken.
There has been a lot of talk about alternative platforms here and on the forum. That is perfectly alright of course, but to me it feels a little weird.
A bit like if the "Society of Carpenters", a trade union that formed in the UK (1860ies) would have told its members to go into coal mining instead because the employers for carpenters were so bad and only interested in their own profits.
I said it before, and I will say it again: Leaving YouTube would mean utter defeat to me. It would mean that we lost the fight and go into exile. While fleeing is always the easiest option, I am determined to fight this through to the end. It is OUR YouTube, not theirs.
And also, there IS no real alternative, at least not for those creators that are full time YouTubers. Where do you want to go? Vimeo, where you have to PAY money to stay instead of making any? Full30, where YouTubers like Hickok45 (love his vids!) is lucky if he gets 10% of the views he gets on YouTube and even more lucky if he gets paid? These guys send out CHECKS, imagine that, and there is rumors that those bounce quite often. DTube, whose business model is based on crypto currency that may well be fraud and with an unclear storage concept? PornHub, a shady organization making millions with hard core porn, where it is soo much easier to reap in the money than with socially controversial regular content? None of these platforms have what it takes to replace YouTube:
- A solid business model with a reliable payment system for the creators - Enough reach to ensure future growth instead of catering to the same, ever shrinking group of people originally brought over from YouTube - A solid road map how to increase server capacity in order to avoid bottleneck issues as soon as more creators start uploading - Proper financing that makes sure the platform will last - A good software platform that has no upload and playback issues - A fair recommendation engine that ensures viral success for really cool videos - Independence from the big players like Google and Facebook
And even if one of these fledgling platforms ever achieve these requirements, then chances are Google or Facebook will simply buy them out. They certainly have the cash and they are NOT stupid. I can pretty much guarantee that THIS is the dream exit scenario the people behind these new platforms secretly nurse.
I asked you to stand together so we can win back the YouTube we loved. That "call to action" outcry still stands. Please don't jump ship or we may well have lost already. If we stand united we will be victorious in the end.
One of the YouTube representatives from the Tuesday meeting contacted me again and offered follow up talks.
Clever of them to do that as we can't start actual measures as long as they are negotiating with us. But all the better. Truth be told there is hope that they are serious about this. In any case we will need to see results - stalling won't work for them, not for long anyway.
Here is my answer (translated from German): ----------------------------------------------------------------- Hello XYZ (name suppressed)
I too would like to thank you for the meeting and hope that improvements will be implemented soon. Any response to my proposals would considerably improve the mood among members, as there is a great deal of skepticism. You've made yourselves pretty unpopular the last 12 months.
On the subject of "monetization", there are more and more complaints in the Union about the monetization of new channels, which have long since crossed the thresholds (1000 subs etc.). Some of these people have been waiting months for feedback and are constantly being put off. Is there hope for improvements?
I would also like to reiterate my suggestion that the lona videos should also receive a portion of the money from the advertiser pot, so that socially critical contributions will stay on YouTube as well. So it's a three-way split instead of the current two-way split.
It was great to talk to a specialist about monetization. I would now like to have further discussions, especially on these issues:
Community Guidelines (many questions remain, including those concerning the new rules on firearms)
Human Review (nobody understands how this works and what training or guidelines the "censors" have - there is a rumor that you are outsourcing this to left-wing radical organisations)
Subscriber Notification (I have tons of complaints about the absence of notifications even when the "bell" is active - not only in the Union, but also on my own comment pages. Can not be a coincidence).
"Trending" and "Recommended" - here you deny that the (open and hidden) demonetization has an influence. I do not believe that and will carry out a statistical survey in the Union if necessary. The press has already shown interest. I'd like to discuss this with someone in charge first.
I do not know your internal organization and leave it to you to find suitable contacts.
One of the things we can achieve as long as we are Standing United is: We can find out the truth.
YouTube currently denies that the subscription system is broken (or maybe even tampered with by YouTube). They deny that people get desubbed and/or don't get notifications.
YouTube currently denies that the monetization status of a video has ANYTHING to do with the trending/recommended selections.
It is hard for us to negotiate with them if they flat out deny these things. But you know what - we are now a large enough group so we can find out, just by running a survey. The sample size we can put together will be highly significant, statistically.
Therefore I am asking you to take a few minutes of your time and fill out one of these two surveys. One is for the users and one is for the creators. I can't wait to see what come out of this! The result will be truly valuable for our upcoming negotiations with YouTube. Thanks, my dear fellow unionists!
Wow, so far 1270 people took the "users" survey. That is HIGHLY significant. And the results are super clear. I can now pretty much guarantee that
1. The subscription system is either broken or massively tampered with - only 11.7% say they always get notifications for the "bell activated" subscriptions! The creator survey confirms this - 69.1 % say they feel that their subscribers aren't always notified. Only 5% say they feel that their subscribers ARE notified reliably.
2. The same goes for the "trending" and "recommended" selections. From the creator survey, only 10.3% say they feel they still get into trending as much as before the adpocalypse. 42.6% say that EVEN THE FULLY MONETIZED videos are not featured as much as before. It is very clear. Open AND hidden demonetization pretty much prevent a video from being featured. YouTube's statement that this isn't the case is a WHITE LIE.
It also is very clear now that people ARE being de-subbed. 44.9% say that they in fact HAVE been desubbed in the past. Only 22.4% say they haven't ever lost a subscription.
This is a scandal. The chances that a video is getting watched by a notified subscriber is a whopping 61%! The fact that people are being desubbed against their wishes AND those who have not only subscribed, but activated the bell are not reliably notified means that creators are using a MASSIVE amount of views.
It is undeniable. YouTube is killing the channels that aren't attractive to the advertizers. OK, we all kind of knew that before but now we have EVIDENCE.
I will confront YouTube with these results. Let us see what they say. Silence is not acceptable.