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Opinion: Why YouTube’s ad algorithm is killing your favourite creators
Thu, 26th Apr 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

In December YouTube and google shared how they're expanding their work to remove content that violates ad policies.

Today, they're providing an update and giving users additional insight into their work, including the release of the first YouTube Community Guidelines Enforcement Report.

YouTube says they are taking an important first step by releasing a quarterly report on how they're enforcing our Community Guidelines.

This regular update will help show the supposed progress they're making in removing violative content from the platform.

By the end of the year, they plan to refine the reporting systems and add additional data, including data on comments, the speed of removal, and policy removal reasons.

They're also introducing a Reporting History dashboard that each YouTube user can individually access to see the status of videos they've flagged to us for review against our Community Guideline.

All of this sounds well and good but there is a major issue with the new policy and flagging system and that's its reliance on an experimental algorithm.

YouTube says that machines are allowing them to flag content for review at scale, helping remove millions of violative videos before they are ever viewed.

And that this investment in machine learning to help speed up removals is paying off across high-risk, low-volume areas (like violent extremism) and in high-volume areas (like spam).

However, this algorithm has been known to falsely target content as well, leaving a host of notable YouTubers on edge.

When the algorithm flags apiece, it marks it as either un-monetizable or un-promotable, this ensures that content that is in breach of YouTube's terms of services don't display ads while under review.

The issue with this is that a lot of content that is falsely flagged then misses out on the majority of both the views it would regularly get as well as the bulk of the income the creator would get from that video.

It's not just small creators who are being hit, but, notable faces and voices in the community like The Philip Defranco Show, Boogie2988 and The Angry Joe Show.

These hits, in turn, are inspiring these major voices to seek new platforms for their content and alternative sources of income as the algorithm slowly strangles off the majority of their ad income.

Players like Philip Defranco have been hugely vocal about their dismay with YouTube, Defranco calling it, “an abusive parent.

And it's a fair statement to make as the algorithm makes some decisive ad decisions, displaying ads on highly controversial content while hitting seemingly innocent pieces.

YouTube has commented on this stating that the algorithm is still learning, but most creators that are feeling its wrath can't afford to wait around for it to finish learning.

This especially rings true for smaller creators, who often solely rely on ad income to fund their channel and daily lives.

At the current rate of creator dismay, it is very likely that there may be a mass exodus to another platform, such as Twitch, with many YouTubers already testing the waters there.

This, in turn, could mean that YouTube as a platform will lose some of its biggest voices and the millions of viewers that follow them.