Conservative And Independent YouTube Channels Hit By Censorship And Demonetization
YouTube is now demonetizing videos from content creators deemed too controversial for the platform, and conservatives and independents are being heavily impacted.
The move follows YouTube’s announcement earlier in August to catch and flag “controversial religious and supremacist” content hosted on the popular video-hosting website. Political and social commentators on YouTube are feeling the hurt—and they believe that they may be on a blacklist for having the wrong opinions.
The Daily Caller previously spoke to several popular commentary YouTubers who expressed skepticism of the system when the move was first announced last week.
Affected creators are unable to make money from their work, which is automatically flagged or vetted by volunteer “experts.” In addition, the new system incorporates “tougher standards” for controversial videos that do not break YouTube’s terms of service, which are placed in a purgatory state that effectively censors them from being recommended to YouTube viewers.
The Daily Caller spoke to conservative and independent YouTubers whose channels are now being affected by the new policy. Conservative journalist Lauren Southern believes there is a drive to stifle politically divergent voices.
“I think it would be insane to suggest there’s not an active effort to censor conservative and independent views,” said Southern. “Considering most of Silicon Valley participate in the censorship of alleged ‘hate speech,’ diversity hiring and inclusivity committees. Their entire model is based around a far left outline. There’s no merit hiring, there’s no support of free speech and there certainly is not an equal representation of political views at these companies.”
Independent journalist and activist Luke Rudkowski, who runs WeAreChange, told The Daily Caller that hundreds of his videos were demonetized in a single day on Thursday, effectively killing his ability to earn a living on YouTube.
“Having had 660 of my videos demonetized in one day left me a little stunned since this is the core for my income but left me with the impression that this was done on purpose,” said Rudkowski, who said that the videos included some of his most popular videos from years ago. “This was videos from years ago predominately targeting the most viewed videos which has eviscerated my income.”
Rudkowski, who believes it isn’t a coincidence that he was targeted, says that he has experienced repeated issues with YouTube.
“After dealing with all the repeated issues with YouTube it is clear that this is a campaign to de-incentivize any critical thinkers and anti authoritarians from their platform,” he said.
Daniel Sulzbach, better known as MrRepzion, told the Daily Caller that YouTube’s demonetization of his videos has hurt his incentive to make new content. He says that it hasn’t been the first time his videos were demonetized, but when the issue happened previously in early 2017, he was able to successfully appeal for them to be restored.
“The difference now is that my videos are not being restored with monetization when I file for manual review,” said Sulzbach.
The YouTuber, who is known for his blistering culture critiques, discussions about atheism, and video game topics, says he doesn’t understand why so many of his videos were flagged.
“Some of them make zero sense, especially my video game streams,” he said. “This is just conjecture at this point, but I think my channel could be on a potential blacklist or list of some sort where my content is looked upon more than others?”
“I don’t make any crazy radical videos,” he continued. “I hardly even do videos regarding feminism, social justice, etc. anymore.” He says that even a 2-year old video response to an Instagram was demonetized without explanation, as well as content from when he was still a Christian.
Sulzbach told the Daily Caller that he plans to rely solely on Patreon to keep making videos, for now. “If I fall below a threshold, I’ll just quit,” he said.
Edgy YouTube comedian Razorfist says every single one of his videos was demonetized. His biggest issue with the site was how the platform values progressive voices over everyone else through biased algorithms. Razorfist cited a video rebuttal to Sam Seder (a left wing comedian) as an example of the bias. He claims that Seder posted a reply containing Razorfist’s video in its entirety, but the algorithm flagged the original video for demonetization.
“If leftist channels are being white-listed, someone’s going to have to explain to me how this algorithm is functionally any different than a conservative blacklist,” he said. Razorfist tells the Daily Caller that he knows his content is edgy and profane, and understands why large family-friendly companies wouldn’t want to advertise on his videos, but he wants to know why Google allows for leftist comedians to perform the same humor without any backlash.
“Google’s going to need to explain to me why John Oliver can engage in weekly invective punctuated by a hail of profane epithets, skew it leftward, and still have ads for Pampers and pimple cream adorn the margins of his unwatchable videos,” he said.
Conservative vlogger and cultural pundit Mark Dice told The Daily Caller he believes YouTube is upset at the rise of conservative channels on YouTube over the past year, and that the new policies are designed to squelch dissenting voices.
“I think YouTube is furious that so many conservative channels have gotten so popular in the last year, and they don’t want us to be able to work full-time doing what we’re doing because our message is at odds with almost everything that Google and YouTube’s leadership stands for,” said Dice, who says that even his monetized videos are underperforming as a result of the changes.
To deal with the demonetization of his channel, Dice said that he plans to continue producing videos and supplementing his income through Patreon and merchandise sales, and a new book. He says that his videos performed better when he had a 10th of his subscriber count, years ago.
Dice believes that despite the seeming hopelessness of the situation expressed by so many other YouTubers, Google and YouTube may have made have shot themselves in the foot by censoring conservatives.
“YouTube has kicked a bees nest by going after Diamond and Silk [a channel of two black female Trump supporters]. I think it won’t be long before President Trump is commenting on YouTube’s censorship,” he said.
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.