In a nutshell

  • YouTuber CoryxKenshin is pitted against YouTube in the middle of a frustrating debacle that shines a light on the platform’s unspoken policy of favoritism and apparent lack of transparency on their decisions
  • Over the last several years, many creators have come forward with similar issues
  • YouTube needs to take immediate actions to fix systematic pitfalls and address its human moderators to put a hard stop to unfair algorithms, decisions, favoritism and lack of consistent policy enforcement

Claims of favoritism against YouTube regarding decisions that affect content creators have been circulating for several years. However, recently it’s begun to boil over with a handful of high-profile situations. One of the most recent examples revolves around the YouTube channel CoryxKenshin, owned and operated by Cory DeVante Williams. Let’s take a look at what happened to Cory, how YouTube responded and what this situation spells out for the problems the YouTube creator community consistently faces.

CoryxKenshin calls out YouTube: What happened?

Cory posted his own gameplay footage of the horror game “The Mortuary Assistant” on his channel. Though the game is a horror game, Cory keeps his channel and videos relatively clean. However, after posting the video, it was hit with an age-restricted status by YouTube — the reason: sensitive content. It came as a shock to Cory because the game was quite popular, and many other YouTubers were playing it and didn’t have age restrictions. He appealed the age restriction, but that appeal was later denied.

Cory contacted his YouTube representative about the restriction. The consensus was that he played through a particular scene in the open-world game that many other players hadn’t visited during their plays. However, after doing a bit of research, Cory discovered that other YouTubers had played through the scene and didn’t have age restrictions, like popular YouTuber Markiplier. He contacted his YouTube representative again and used Markiplier as an example. Ultimately, Cory just wanted an explanation for why he was getting age-restricted, but other YouTubers weren’t.

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This is when things got really messy.

How did YouTube respond to CoryxKenshin?

Rather than explaining their reasoning for only age-restricting Cory’s video, YouTube decided to try to appease the situation. They removed the age restriction from his video. However, this wasn’t what Cory was looking for and rightfully frustrated him even more. He wanted an explanation for their actions. Since his appeal was already denied, why did YouTube change its tune? In his video about the matter, Cory compared this action to a purity test, using Markiplier’s video to verify his innocence. 

He reached out to his representative again and asked YouTube’s policy team to answer these questions:

  • Was the initial restriction automated or reviewed by a human?
  • Who was the human reviewer that rejected his appeal and why did they reject it
  • Why did it take Markiplier’s clip to reverse its decision?

YouTube’s second response

In response to Cory’s questioning, YouTube decided to not only re-age restrict Cory’s video, but it restricted Markiplier’s video as well. 

Cory says he’s inclined to believe this whole situation is rooted in racism or favoritism — especially since YouTube hasn’t offered any reasoning or proof it isn’t. This isn’t the first incident where he’s been “targeted” by YouTube. He mentions in his video that whenever he is trending on YouTube, usually at the number one spot, that is the only time when he gets hit with things like age restrictions or copyright strikes. Cory is on and off YouTube, so his posting schedule may include large multi-month gaps in between uploads. He questions why these issues don’t arise when he’s not uploading. It’s only when his videos trend.

While he can’t fully prove YouTube is being racist against him, it’s hard for him not to believe YouTube is nitpicking his videos to push his channel down when his channel is finding success.

Favoritism at YouTube: an ongoing issue

The reality is that CoryxKenshin isn’t the only creator who is experiencing or has experienced unfair treatment from YouTube. For example, we just saw The Act Man’s channel get demonetized and almost removed from the platform because he made a joke against YouTube for not taking action against another YouTube that violated its policies. Also, in 2017, the creator of Captain Sauce blasted the platform on Twitter for unfair algorithm practices and demonetizations.

It’s known that YouTube plays favorites. Just a few years ago, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki was caught on-camera promising to get his numbers up and increase his audience. It’s clear YouTube isn’t hesitant to give unfair treatment, and it’s not out of the question for its human moderators to rule based on their own biases and prejudices.

Why does it matter?

YouTube holds the power to bury channels if it wants. It can take a blunt hammer to any YouTuber’s momentum by demonetizing, age-restricting and taking down their videos. The issue here is that YouTube has time and time again shown it’s incapable of upholding a fair, balanced moderation system. It’s algorithm flags videos unjustly. And when human moderators come into play for appeals and decisions, it’s unclear who these people are, what rules they are operating under and whether or not it’s common their biases influence their rulings.

For creators like CoryxKenshin and those operating within the middle class of YouTube, they’re put at an unfair disadvantage. When their videos get demonetized or age-restricted, it hurts their bottom line and their growth. On top of that, they have no way of fighting back against YouTube and its moderators’ various biases without a massive campaign or the support of one of YouTube’s “favorite” creators.

What’s there to be done? 

YouTube moderation is a broken system and needs to be rebuilt from the ground up. There’s a lot to be done, and there’s no simple, easy answer for fixing the system. What it really comes down to is YouTube needs to not only listen to all of its creators; it needs to act in their interests. We’re not talking about its top creators; we’re talking about everyone. It’s imperative for creators to speak their truths and criticize YouTube for its failings, just like what CoryxKenshin did. Everyone’s voice, no matter who they are, deserves to have a say in how YouTube’s ran. Who better to fix the system than the ones directly affected by it?

By the same token, everyone needs to be held to the same standard. No purity tests. No changing policies on the fly to help protect YouTube’s image. If a clip is unfit for younger viewers, every video featuring that clip should be age-restricted. Likewise, if it is okay for a 30 million white creator to have it in their video, it should also be OK for a person of color with 50 subscribers to have it in their video. Anything else spells out favoritism.