In a nutshell
- YouTube says that violence in the first seven seconds of videos will be up for demonetization
- Videos that contain gory video game violence in the first eight seconds will be demonetized
- Some creators who follow the new guidelines are still getting their videos demonetized
YouTube has a reputation for silently implementing new rules or policies with minimal explanation. The policy language is often too vague, leading creators to feel confused and uncertain when their videos are suddenly demonetized. This is, unfortunately, the experience for many after YouTube’s recent major update to its community guidelines.
In this article, we will discuss YouTube’s new guidelines, who are affected and what you’ll need to avoid to stay monetized.
What did YouTube change?
YouTube recently made significant changes to its guidelines for demonetization and monetization. However, it did so without proper communication to its creators. Many creators have expressed that they received minimal or no information about the changes. As a result, creators like RGT 85 have faced challenges. He received a notification that one of his older videos was now age-restricted and deemed unsuitable for viewers under 18. RGT 85 felt the decision was unjustified and filed an appeal, considering that the video was previously deemed fit for monetization before the update to YouTube’s policy. However, his appeal was instantly denied.
RGT 85’s experience isn’t unique. This issue affects creators of all sizes on the platform — big and small. One of YouTube’s biggest creators, MoistCr1TiKaL, has had many of his videos demonetized for no apparent reason. Even when reaching out to his YouTube representative, they weren’t clear on the details of the policy change either.
YouTube announced the monetization/demonetization update through a post on the YouTube Help Center in November, but it left much open to interpretation and failed to provide a specific date for the update. Given these unclear instructions, it’s not surprising that many creators were caught off guard by YouTube’s changes.
What are the updates?
To clarify the changes made by YouTube, let’s review the updates to its guidelines.
Previously, YouTube had a severity grading system for regulating curse words, with some words being considered less advertiser-friendly than others. However, with the recent update, YouTube has abolished this grading system and now categorizes curse words as either unacceptable or acceptable for advertisers. This means that the use of the “f-word” and “s-word” are now treated equally, while the words “hell” and “damn” are no longer considered profanity.
So, does this mean that you can no longer use the “f-bomb?” It depends. While you can use curse words after the first seven seconds, YouTube states it will demonetize videos if profanity is used “consistently” throughout the video. However, what “consistently” means is unclear. This has left many creators uncertain about how much profanity is acceptable. Are videos judged based on a percentage of total words, or are they evaluated on a case-by-case basis? Despite YouTube’s claim that its position on demonetizing videos with profanity throughout has not changed, many creators say that their videos have still been demonetized, even though they avoided cursing in the first seven seconds. Previously, these videos were okay for monetization.
YouTube is also monitoring titles and thumbnails for profanity. YouTube says they can lead to demonetization if they include profanity.
YouTube is also cracking down on violence. While overtly violent content is already against YouTube’s guidelines, YouTube’s now a lot more strict. YouTube will now demonetize content that includes:
- Non-graphic dead bodies presented without any context
- Game violence directed at a real-named person
- Acts to create shocking experiences (such as a brutal mass killing)
- Implied moments of death (such as bombing a building with people inside)
YouTube says standard gameplay with gory injuries after the first eight seconds is okay for monetization. It also okayed:
- Non-graphic tragedies and their aftermath (like a town flooded)
- Police seizures as a part of law enforcement
However, similar to profanity, creators have reported that their videos have been demonetized even after avoiding showing violence within the first eight seconds. The videos contained violence that had previously met community guidelines, such as 2D-animated fighting with gore.
YouTube’s guidelines have always been strict on adult content; it usually resorts to demonetization. This update has made them even stricter. YouTube now will demonetize content that includes:
- Thumbnails, titles and clips containing sexualized texts (such as links, 18+)
- Obscene language, images (such as real or animated minimally covered butts) and audio (such as sharing sexual tips or working experiences)
- Gratifying acts (such as animal mating or implicit sexual acts)
According to YouTube, it will not demonetize classical art that depicts sexual activities, sensual dancing, or sexual education without the intention to arouse.
Harmful or dangerous acts
Dangerous acts in which minors are participants or victims will not receive ad revenue. This refers to dare, stunt and challenge videos.
Recreational drugs and drug-related content
YouTube’s cracking down more on drugs in games. Drug usage and consumption in gaming content can no longer be monetized. However, drug dealings or mentions of drugs in gaming content are still allowed.
YouTube rolled out its new dishonest behavior policy
The update also introduced new guidelines under the Enabling dishonest behavior guideline. YouTube says the following content will now be up for demonetization:
- Pretending to be a retail store employee without the property owner’s permission or violating their code of conduct (such as staying after their business hours)
- Using or encouraging the usage of hacking software in competitive e-sports
Cause and effect
It’s clear from the update that YouTube aims to make its platform more brand-safe. However, many creators have been left in the dark, particularly those who are still demonetized even after following the guidelines. This is also unfair to creators who previously followed the guidelines but now have many videos in their back catalog demonetized.
Will these changes help make advertisers feel safer on the platform? Maybe, maybe not. But has YouTube further hurt its reputation with its creator community? Most definitely.