Creators of YouTube content have been rocked by the latest Terms of Service updates. What does this mean for the future of the channel?
What changes are being made?
New Terms of Service come into effect on 10th December 2019. Typically, new Terms are announced every six months, with the previous update having been in July.
The huge issue for content creators is that YouTube have added new clauses allowing them to delete user data. This isn’t restricted to sensitivity filters. YouTube can completely erase a channel should they consider it ‘no longer commercially viable’.
It doesn’t even stop there. YouTube can delete not only a users’ channel, but also their entire Google account. Yep, you read that right; Gmail, Google Docs, everything!
What, exactly, do the new Terms of Service say?
‘YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.’
This is typically vague. The blanket terms offer no explanation for what would trigger ‘sole discretion’. Channels could potentially be deleted purely because they aren’t making enough income from advertising. Channels without any ad revenue stand little chance of survival. This could even apply to users who dare to use ad-blocking software.
It sounds like if you aren’t contributing financially to the Google empire, you are not welcome on YouTube.
There is a huge amount of speculation about what these terms really mean. Slash Gear reports that Google are reassuring users that they are simply making ‘the ToS up-to-date after years of being vague and unclear‘. However, users are not buying it.
Mashable clarifies that ‘the terms specifically state the company can terminate a user’s Google account as well. As written, a YouTuber can lose their Gmail, Google Photos, Documents, and more just for “no longer being commercially viable” on the video platform.’
Live footage of YouTube right now with all their new nonsensical bans and change in terms of service: pic.twitter.com/AXZ4xLfsrO
— Stephen Porter Ford (@StephenSeanFord) November 13, 2019
But – why?
YouTube seem to be saying that nothing has changed. Whilst previous Terms of Service do include provisions for removing accounts, this new wording did not previously exist.
The Verge report that a YouTube spokesman has said the difference is about the ‘sole discretion’ the channel is awarding itself. The new Terms of Service announcement states that they have ‘made some changes to our Terms of Service in order to make them easier to read and to ensure they’re up to date. We’re not changing the way our products work, how we collect or process data, or any of your settings‘.
This comes amongst growing discontent by YouTube contributors, with each new set of Terms making the platform less accessible and verging on hostile. Over a year ago we were all talking about how smaller channels were being pushed out. It seems like that trend is set to continue.
What happens if you refuse to accept the terms?
There doesn’t seem to be any scope for negotiation here. If you decide that the new Terms are unacceptable, YouTube direct you to instructions for deleting YouTube from your Google account. This does however allow you to download your data.
So according to Youtube’s new Terms of Service, if your channel isn’t making them enough money, they’ll just terminate it.
To all of the smaller content creators out there, it was nice knowing ya.
— MP (@MpNintendoFan) November 9, 2019
How has the YouTube community reacted?
Well, not happily! A Reddit thread on the subject now has 52,100 upvotes and thousands of comments.
There is a lot of talk about unionising to protect the rights of broadcasters for whom YouTube is their livelihood. A You Tubers Union does already exist. However, YouTube have made it crystal clear that they have no intention of negotiating or working with them.
Is this a step too far by YouTube?
Quite possibly! Channel creators have already been jumping ship. This is because of the ‘Adpocalypse’, where YouTube has removed access to using paid ads. Having demonetised these channels removes any way of achieving advertising income through content.
With the new terms being introduced next month, concerns continue to mount. Creators face the potential of having their platform deleted or disrupted pretty much at any time.
Ironically, a lot of the fury has been broadcast through YouTube. Contect creators are furious at having their livelihoods threatened. Check out the Smash JT video, which sums it all up nicely.
From their responses, it doesn’t seem like YouTube have any concerns. With data showing 5 billion videos watched every day, and 300 hours of video being uploaded every minute, it will come down to users voting with their keyboards. The advertisers will of course follow.