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Youtube shooting and demonetization

April 16, 2018

Photo from Boston Herald

On April 3, the headquarters of YouTube was infiltrated by a content creator who ended up shooting three people and taking her own life. It is unclear what the motive was for shooting up YouTube but talk among the Internet’s most famous websites like Reddit, 4Chan, and YouTube itself, as well as other larger media outlets, seem to think that the demonetization of the content creator’s videos was the cause.

Demonetization is a term used among the content creating community of YouTube when a video is deemed unfit to remain within community guidelines. If this happens, companies and organizations that have partnered or agreed to work with Google will feature their advertisements on videos that receive enough views. With YouTube being such a successful, far-reaching, and massive company, most would think that the community guidelines would be straightforward since there are millions of people who use the content sharing platform every day so the need for cut and dry instructions would be beneficial. In reality, the guidelines are broad and some “popular” creators tend to receive leeway with their content.

In the case of the shooter, many of the videos started to become demonetized because they had images and videos of animal abuse and brutality. The content creator was actively trying to inform their audience on the reality of big corporations testing and doing unspeakable things to animals. In a sense, the content creator had created a news sharing account that featured the reality of animal abuse.

An ever-changing population of creators on YouTube manage to make a living by making videos. If they receive a few thousand views, then they receive money. A person could understand how frustrating it could be by randomly not getting paid every once in a while, even if they did their work. If the trend became more intense and less revenue was received by the creator each week, then it could lead to intense feelings and desperation.

At the end of the day, YouTube is a tech company owned by Google. 300 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, so the 1,500 or more staff will not be able to manually watch every person’s video to see if each one is deemed appropriate by community guidelines. As stated previously, YouTube is a tech company who uses a secret algorithm to sift through the billions of hours of video uploaded to the site. Should there be some sort of union for the creators? Maybe. Should YouTube revise the community guidelines and become more transparent with its growing community? Yes, but not because of the shooting incident, but because the perception of censorship can be squashed and people can better understand how to abide by the platforms preferred rules.

It is unclear what the true motive of the content creator was, but speculation will not rest. This incident serves as a stark reminder that on platforms designed for creative freedom can run into some hiccups. Adding money into the equation based on viewership, and then taking the control away from the creators has ultimately led to a hostile online environment. Sometimes individuals and corporations alike forget that the person behind the screen is genuinely real and is ready to take action when their livelihood is at stake due to an outside force.

Riley Hess
Editor in Chief

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