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“Adpocolypse” hits YouTube

Illustration: Madalyn Drewno

New policies negatively affect creators

In late 2017, YouTube and Google had a small crisis when advertisers realized their ads were showing up on ISIS propaganda YouTube videos. Affluent advertisers left in droves. YouTube and Google followed up with guideline changes. These changes were implemented to make the platform more advertiser friendly, but all they have done is introduce problems for content creators.

The new guidelines rely on artificial intelligence to determine whether a video is monetizable and ad-worthy; the AI makes this judgement based on several things including the video title, tags, thumbnail, content, and how many times the video has been flagged (reported). The only problem is—it doesn’t work. The initial release of these new guidelines was referred to as the “adpocolypse” by the YouTube creator community, which demonstrates the severity of the situation.

The AI began to falsely flag thousands of videos that were previously monetized and considered ad-friendly, including videos from reputable creators with thousands, or even millions of subscribers. This “adpocolypse” was a massive problem for these creators as they generate most, if not all, of their income from this previously hospitable platform.

YouTube has a history of remaining tight-lipped when it comes to addressing problems on their website, and this mistake was treated no differently. It took weeks for the community to receive a statement that YouTube was working on fixing their latest patch, and many creators began to worry that the platform was on the verge of completely failing, which would leave them with no income. Many creators even turned to donation-based websites to fund their channels.

Over the past few months, YouTube has slowly been making repairs to their flawed AI, but the impact it initially had is still lingering in the minds of the community, and videos are still getting unnecessarily demonetized. Creators have to be careful about the way they structure their videos, and that doesn’t necessarily always work.

These new guidelines that YouTube has implemented have failed; they have failed to meet the advertisers’ needs and the community’s needs. YouTube owes its status as a major platform to its creators, yet YouTube just treats its creators like assets instead of people.

The artificial intelligence that monitors the videos didn’t do its job correctly when it was first released, and it does not do its job now. On average, according to YouTube statistical analyses, the website receives about 60 hours of footage per minute. The sheer amount of content being dumped in makes it almost impossible to manage what goes through. This makes any attempt to censor negative videos that break the guidelines by YouTube seem somewhat futile, as it has only seemed to have a strong negative impact on the community and the creators. YouTube needs to dump all of these changes, and focus on supporting what makes the website what it is today: the community and the creators.

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