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Oh the irony

21 March 2019

YouTube has made a lot of noise about enforcing its community standards of late.

After advertisers fled en-masse in the wake of their ads being placed on "undesirable" videos, YT decided to introduce all sorts of AI systems and react without question to any user-flagging of material as offensive or advertiser-unfriendly.

As a result, many millions of videos were automatically demonetized and some whole channels were wiped from the face of its platform... often without valid reason and without any effective right of appeal.

Big problems require bold moves to solve -- right?

Next up, YT decided to remove the comments and the ability to comment on videos that feature children -- a move that disadvantaged a huge number of "family oriented" channels.

But hey... we need to protect the children, right?

Now we've just had the Christchurch shooter live-stream video doing the rounds and YT has told us that it has worked tirelessly, again using AI and "real people" to delete copies of this offensive footage as soon as they're detected.

Surely YouTube is doing everything it can to protect people from unsavoury and downright illegal content... right?

Well that might be true when it comes to the videos you're able to watch on the platform but it appears they don't give a tinker's-curse about the ads that they get paid to run.

Oh no, it seems that YOUR content will be dismissed or demonetized at the drop of an AI hat but no such checks appear to be made on the ads that are constantly thrown up into our faces before, during and after a video is played.

As a result, viewers are increasingly being hit with adult-themed ads such as these:

Okay, there's nothing illegal in those ads but it seems they're popping up in age-inappropriate places and given the enthusiasm with which YT has been slamming user-created content for much less suggestive material and effectively now treats any inclusion of a child as a precursor to child-porn, this is a little hypocritical.

The company claims that it can't possibly vet every advertisement before placement -- but it would appear that they're also not bothering to use their AI systems to do at least some coarse filtering or flagging for human review.

So what's the difference?

Well I guess (and it's confirmed by the ad-rates) that YT has lost a *lot* of advertisers in recent times and is now scraping the bottom of the bucket. Any advertising revenue is better than no advertising revenue I guess so they're happy to lower standards to preserve the bottom line.

When it comes to the wholesomeness of stuff that appears on the YT platform it has clearly become a case of "Do as we say, not as we do".

With an over-abundance of ad-slots and a falling supply of advertisements, YT doesn't give a damn about demonetizing videos but it does care an awful lot about attracting and retaining new advertisers -- even if their pitches are *NOT* the sort of thing that some people might feel comfortable with appearing in a non-age-restricted account's feed.

YouTube's greed has dug a hole for the company and every day things just seem to be getting worse and worse. To be honest, I see only one way for Google to fix this problem and that is to go back to the way it was some years ago when there were far fewer ad-enabled channels and the operators of those channels had to prove themselves to be trustworthy and capable of producing content to a particular standard and quality.

If YT does revert to that model then they won't have the problem of ads appearing on inappropriate content -- so big-dollar, big-name brands will return to the platform and that will mean more profit for the company.

Or perhaps there needs to be two tiers of channels. "Approved" channels which meet the strict criteria for production values, family-friendly content, etc. And "general" channels which are less constrained but which, as a result, offer fewer guarantees for advertisers.

Let those who are prepared to play by the rules and for who YouTube is a full-time job reap the rewards of their efforts and good behaviour by way of higher ad-rates but allow *everyone* to publish on the platform if they choose.

I wonder if Google is smart enough to think of this themselves. I doubt it. I get a strong whiff of arrogance driven by greed from the halls of Google-central these days.

What do readers think?

Would a YouTube-Plus be one way of pulling the good content out of the murk and noise that is regular YouTube these days? Would it be a good business strategy to be able to offer advertisers a much higher guarantee of content-quality against which to showcase their ads for a higher rate?

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