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YouTube is trying to tackle growing ‘drama’ problem on platform, exec says

Don’t ‘use drama at our expense for the sake of views,’ exec says

If you ask creators what word best described YouTube culture in 2017, most wouldn’t be able to keep the distaste out of their voice when saying the word “drama.”

YouTube executives say the company is taking steps to try and disincentive this type of content by adding new and more severe guidelines for creators.

Much of the conversation centers on one of YouTube’s most notorious creators, Logan Paul. Paul became the most talked about YouTuber earlier this year after uploading a disturbing and insensitive video on Dec. 31 that showed the body of a man who recently committed suicide in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. Before that, however, he was known for his outlandish prank antics and starting drama with other channels.

Paul (who’s become a go-to example of punishment for the company to point to as it changes its community guidelines) lost his spot in YouTube’s top-tier ad program, lost his YouTube Red projects, was removed from the home page and recommended algorithm and, for the time being, will receive no financial reward for his videos. YouTube has effectively shadow banned him.

It still doesn’t address the bigger problem facing YouTube culture, though. Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer who oversees creators, told popular YouTuber Casey Neistat the company is looking into new methods to dis-incentivize anyone creating content based on salacious drama just for the sake of views.

“We’re thinking very deeply — and every single day — on how do we create the right incentives and disincentives for creators to do the right thing on YouTube,” Kyncl said. “That means a lot of different things. That means do the right thing for advertisers, do the right thing for their users, for the platform organically, and not chase sensationalism; not chase views for the sake of views, and not chase drama for the sake of views — and not use drama at our expense for the sake of views.”

YouTube is working toward building a better creator ecosystem for everyone on the platform, and Kyncl acknowledges that part of doing so is adjusting the guidelines and being transparent with its core user base.

“We deeply care about the creator ecosystem; if you don’t succeed, we don’t succeed,” Kyncl said. “We want to make sure that creators who are making a living on YouTube feel safe doing so. There is no gaming the system. It is our job to set those guidelines in place and those incentives in place, so we’re working on that quite busily.”

Drama, in this case creators staging fake fights on YouTube that result in countless diss tracks, response videos and react segments, was inescapable last year. Part of that is attributed to a phenomenon known as the “Viner Invasion.” It’s a term used to describe the sudden increase, influence and reach of popular Vine influencers who made the move to YouTube in wake of Vine shutting down in January 2017.

Some of the most popular Vine influencers who became top YouTubers — and who are largely regarded as contributing to the current YouTube ecosystem — became the most notorious creators. Jake and Logan Paul became instant celebrities on YouTube.

There’s been countless discussion about the repercussions of the shock ‘em culture of vloggers and YouTubers that Logan Paul belongs to. Most everyone agrees that although Paul is to blame for his actions, the greater conversation is about YouTube’s current incentives for YouTubers who promote questionable content. Disturbing prank channels and drama-infested channels result in more views, more advertising and financial reward.

YouTube has announced several new guidelines in the past weeks, including more severe consequences that will be handed down to the most problematic creators. None of these rules specifically target creators known for centering on drama (RiceGum, Keemstar, etc), but the company is continuing to find ways to dis-incentivize sensationalist content.

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