YouTube Content Creators Up In Arms Over Alleged Censorship, Claim #YouTubeIsOver

The hashtag #YouTubeIsOver is currently fluttering all over Twitter. Many content creators are up in arms over YouTube’s alleged censorship and have taken to all forms of social media to air their grievances. Has YouTube’s censorship rules actually changed in the last few days? Who is affected by the censorship? How did the campaign against YouTube even get started? We have some answers for you.

YouTubers have been complaining about censorship for years. In the past, YouTube has offered some rather vague explanations for removing videos, striking channels, or preventing videos from being monetized. Content creators frequently did not know if their video had been demonetized unless they dug deep into their channel’s statistics.


On Thursday, YouTube demonetized a number of videos that were deemed to not be “advertiser-friendly”. These guidelines are not new, but YouTube has decided to crack down on “inappropriate” content. Anything that does not meet YouTube’s “Terms of Service” can be demonetized and possibly removed. Content creators can immediately tell if their video has been affected by a yellow America dollar sign that appears on the bottom of the video. YouTube Red income remains unaffected.

What makes a video “advertiser-friendly”? According to YouTube’s guidelines, a video must be “ appropriate for all audiences”. The content cannot be be pornographic, violent, use inappropriate language, or promote drugs. Perhaps most concerning, content cannot contain “controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.” 

Philip DeFranco discussing YouTube's demonetization process

The last guideline is the murkiest and the heart of the #YouTubeIsOver campaign. Philip DeFranco, a YouTube content creator who has been on the site for ten years and has over 4.5 million subscribers recently published a video called, “YouTube is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What to Do”. DeFranco’s video concerning Chris Brown and a woman claiming she was harassed was demonetized just for mentioning these “controversial” issues. Jenna Marbles, NadeShot, Rob Dyke, Boogie2988, Scarce, and even YouTube darling and VidCon founder Hank Green (whose video was recently reinstated), have all been targeted. YouTube creator Thunderf00t fought to reinstate a video which discussed WWII tanks. MrRepzion, who runs a mental health channel, has had videos demonetized because he discussed suicide and sexual abuse.

Although YouTube is not creating new rules, the crackdown does leave a few unanswered questions. Why did YouTube not clearly inform content creators in the past if their videos have been demonetized? Many content creators consider YouTube their primary form of income.  Is this system fair? Some have accused YouTube of not targeting videos by sites such as Buzzfeed that have posted about masturbation and having sex during a woman’s menstrual cycle. It is also has been noted that smaller channels have to put up a harder fight in order to get their videos reinstated.

MrRepzion discussing YouTube's demonetization process 

Most importantly, how does one define “controversial”? Thunderf00t recently noted that women who do not have their head covered in some countries are considered offensive. Should all women therefore cover their heads in order to not offend the people in those countries? This is an extreme example, but it emphasizes how problematic the word “controversial” can be, especially on a site that claims to be open to the public.

So, where do we go from here? Content creators like Hank Green feel optimistic, while others like Philip DeFranco are still frustrated. How can YouTube creators still speak their minds and address important issues while following guidelines? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.