Many content creators on Youtube had nothing but disappointment and anger to show when a policy that the website had proclaimed was beginning to take a toll. The policy states that videos containing any kind of sexual content, inappropriate language and promotion of drugs will not be monetized. Another one of the factors in which would affect your video getting demonetized is any mention of “sensitive subjects and events” such as war, natural disasters and/or political conflict, even if no graphic imagery is displayed.
As many Youtubers make their financial income using adverts, this is big news. An individual who has found himself and his channel drastically impacted by this is Philip DeFranco, whose Youtube consists of his commentary on pop culture and other news. Twelve of his videos have been demonetized, although some have since been reinstated. DeFranco, while looking over the content, realized he had mentioned potential drug abuse but not in a vulgar way that would be promoting it. Remaining true to his authentic vision as a content creator, however, he vowed to not censor himself despite the policy having a clear effect on his channel.
Some may characterize Youtube’s policy as a tactic to limit their creativity: disallowing them to push boundaries and speak up on more controversial topics. Some, however, agree with Youtube’s decision to demonetize certain content in order to produce a more friendly and safe environment for advertising. So, is this an attack on freedom of speech? Is Youtube actually inflicting censorship?
There is no right or wrong answer to this which means debate and chaos are bound to erupt. It’s difficult to really pin down one particular group or cause of this policy, but it is important to discuss the long and extensive history of censorship in our media. From Nazis controlling all of Germany’s news outlets for over a decade to copies of Allen Ginsberg’s poem titled “Howl” getting seized by custom officials due to its depiction of sexual practices (both heterosexual and homosexual) and illicit drugs, the act of removing one’s liberty to express their genuine thoughts is not a new phenomenon. Although the era we currently live in isn’t as strict as times before, we still struggle with finding platforms in which we are truly enabled to share what we think and what we believe in despite our freedom of speech.
The fight for freedom of speech has many obstacles and challenges to it that may even go against our own morals. Saying that we want the opportunity to talk about what we believe in with no restrictions means that we also have to let others do so, even if we disagree with them. I am not saying that we have to just sit and accept discrimination because of our freedom to say what we want, in fact we should always call out on those who are ignorant and hostile because taking advantage of our freedom has negative consequences. But, just because someone is in the Republican party and you identify as a Democrat doesn’t necessarily mean that they shouldn’t be allowed to tweet their more conservative opinions despite your dislike. To sum it up, a democracy means that everyone gets to choose what they stand by, and that everyone is entitled to manifesting their own perspectives which we may not always be on board with.
Going back to the subject of Youtube, I personally sympathize with content creators who now have to censor their minds just for the sake of putting a roof over their head. Just because someone uses profanity does not mean that they are a vile individual. Sexual humour can diminish the negative connotation that is often aligned with intercourse and can even educate those on it. If we cannot speak about topics such as a war happening overseas or a natural tragedy that resulted in the loss of many lives, then how are we supposed to learn and expand our knowledge? The answer is we cannot. The world isn’t all rainbows and butterflies, Youtube, and demonetizing videos will not help.