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YouTube CEO addresses demonetization anger: ‘We know the last year has not been easy’

“We are working to make this faster,” Susan Wojcicki said

Casey Neistat demonetization YouTube/CaseyNeistat

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki today addressed ongoing frustration and anger within the creator community over demonetization.

Wojcicki published a blog post looking at the past year, focusing on the last few months following the company’s changes to YouTube’s Partner Program. Creators were told they now needed a minimum of 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of accrued watch time in the past 12 months to be eligible for Partner status, meaning they could earn revenue for their videos. This greatly upset the creator community-at-large.

Wojcicki acknowledged that it’s been tough for newcomers to YouTube, and is addressed concerns over delays in Partner application reviews.

“For those who have not yet met the new threshold, keep creating and building your audience,” Wojcicki said. “We have resources to help you learn and grow. We’ve also heard from you that delays in the application process are frustrating. We are working to make this faster.”

Despite Wojcicki’s claims that YouTube’s demonetization problem is getting better, creators like Philip DeFranco and Casey Neistat are saying otherwise. DeFranco is threatening to invest time in other platforms, and Neistat may be partnering with Patreon CEO Jack Conte for a new revenue avenue for YouTube creators. Wojcicki addressed the frustration creators are having regarding the appeals process. Creators have complained about “flip-flopping” monetization icons on their videos, arguing it’s difficult to understand what is acceptable by YouTube’s standards and what isn’t. Wojcicki touched upon that complaint, adding that the company is working on a new pilot program to try and alleviate some of those problems. Wojcicki said:

Many of you have said you’re willing to provide more feedback on what’s in your video if it meant you didn’t have to worry about false-positives in our monetization system. This month, we’re launching a pilot with a small set of creators to test a new video upload flow that will ask creators to provide specific information about what’s in their video as it relates to our advertiser-friendly guidelines. In an ideal world, we’ll eventually get to a state where creators across the platform are able to accurately represent what’s in their videos so that their insights, combined with those of our algorithmic classifiers and human reviewers, will make the monetization process much smoother with fewer false positive demonetizations.

Another important conversation that has been circulating in the creator community is freedom of speech and bad actors looking to exploit YouTube’s algorithm. Creators with channels dedicated to politics or guns have threatened to find alternative platforms, like PornHub, to host their videos because YouTube is supposedly discriminating against their content. Other notorious conspiracy theorists, like InfoWars host Alex Jones, and conspiracy channels are being pointed to as a steadily growing issue that YouTube isn’t handling properly. Wojcicki didn’t add much to the conversation, but did speak to the “freedom of expression” argument.

“One of the biggest challenges we face is balancing the freedom of expression with our responsibility as a community,” she said. “We value the incredible diversity of voices on our platform and want to focus our policy changes on where we believe there can be real harm. In February, we announced new steps, beyond our existing strikes system, that we may take in the rare event that one creator’s actions risk harming the entire community. Our goal is to strengthen the community, and we hope to rarely use these new steps.”

Polygon has reached out to YouTube for more information on some of the bigger demonetization issues creators are facing, like view suppression, and will update if more information becomes available.

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