YouTube Decency Standards or Controlling Creators?

Why do you hate the people making you money, YouTube?

Okay, that’s an admittedly abrupt way to start an article. But after the long string of problems we’ve seen coming out of YouTube – including their archaic automatic copyright strike system that’s still a problem today – we seeing garbage like this.

The short version of the story goes as follows; YouTube has made a new set of guidelines allowing them to pull monetization rights from videos that they feel may too violent, sexual, or controversial for advertisers. For those like me who are strictly anti-censorship, this would be bad enough. But, they had to make it even worse by defining the guidelines in such vague terms that they could pull ad revenue from videos at random and arbitrarily.

In fact, I don’t really need to say anything as one of my favorite Youtubers, James “Caddicarus” Caddick, said everything that needed to be said in the above video demonstrating the hypocrisy of the new guidelines (bonus points for giving Nicki Minaj’s garbage music a proper thrashing as well).

Look, I know this is going to be the shortest article I’ve ever written, but I just don’t have the strength to keep up with this sort of thing and there’s nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said before. So, I’m just going to say this and be done with it – YouTube corporate, you need to understand that this is not a hobby on the web anymore; it’s a job and people are going to treat it as a job. All of the attempts to control content will only serve to place enmity between you and your creators.

If you’re that worried about how your advertisers feel about placing their product next to Nicki’s jiggling ass, maybe you should try letting THEM decide where their ads go instead of making a blanket statement that you can (and likely will, if corporate greed acts its part) use as a blank check to destroy a channel that rubs you the wrong way.

And if that’s just too much work for you, then stop whining and learn to live the fact that the world will always have a bunch of dreary crap in it and you will never stop people from talking about it.

Bottom Line: If Steven Universe can get away with having Garnet and Amethyst’s sexy fusion dance on cable T.V. (huh, more Nicki Minaj. Weird), we should too.

#WTFU Can Go Further: How To Make YouTube Better

Pay attention to this, kids. It’s important.

I’ve been wanting to talk about this ever since I first learned about it last week. And yesterday, I had a good reason to do so.

For those not in the know, a recent trend among Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube users has had people voicing their outrage over unwarranted copyright strikes by spreading the news about victimized channels who have lost their monetization rights or have lost their channel entirely with the hashtag #WTFU.

No, that’s not the college dedicated to teaching people how to call out stupidity that I’m trying to establish. WTFU is short for “Where’s the Fair Use;” fair use being a caveat of copyright law that allows the use of short clips of copyrighted material for the purposes of criticism, education, news, and parody/satire.

However, many people have had their content removed, many times with no warning, despite being well within the protective rights of fair use. The proliferation of #WTFU was started by Doug Walker; aka, The Nostalgia Critic after he and his friends/co-workers at Channel Awesome had a strike file against them that cost them monetization rights and the ability to upload videos over 10 minutes long.

Walker’s incident is not isolated. Many other channels have suffered similar fates including I Hate Everything, H3H3, and – just yesterday at the time of posting this – Team Four Star among others.

Now, I like the idea of a United YouTube Entertainers Guild (I’ll work on the name) dedicated to protecting innocent producers. However, I feel that #WTFU supporters should take it upon themselves to go further. While protecting the innocent, we should be actively punishing the guilty.

What do I mean? Well, YouTube has a laundry list of standards of practice that they demand that anyone uploading footage. If we really want to make this a better place for entertainers we should be proving that by calling out the people you violate those standards while ALSO protecting those that play by the rules.

For instance, why is it that YouTube says is against sexually explicit content, but allows channels like Prank Invasion to objectify women by groping their asses so hard you could almost see up her pooper if they weren’t in bikinis?

Why do they attack people protected under fair use when sub-par ‘reaction’ channels Like Jinx are allow to upload full videos unedited with almost no actual substantial commentary?

Why do they tell us to not use hateful speech or threats, but extremist lunatics like Josh Feuerstein can insult and belittle Non-Christians and gays while waving his gun on camera and preaching about a “Christian Holocaust?” (Please note that I’m not linking to any examples of the above-mentioned people’s work because the worst thing I could do to dignify them is to increase their view count)

If we really want to improve modern media, then #WTFU can only be the start. We need to let YouTube know that we want good people to be left alone while pointing them in the direction of the real threats to good taste and basic human decency.

To that end, I encourage you to start a similar trend I call, “How Are You On YouTube?” Every time you see someone violating the YouTube standards without any consequence, flag the video and share a link to the offending channel via Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #HAYOYT to encourage others to do the same.

Return of the PR Nightmare: The Internet Vs. The Fine Bros.

The look on Rafi’s face makes me want to curb stomp it.
Source: Giphy

As guilty as I feel for admitting it, I do feel a certain giddiness when a foolish person or persons get exactly what they deserve.

For those that don’t follow news on what’s been dubbed ‘new media’, There has been a massive uproar among the YouTube community regarding the two producers Benny and Rafi Fine – known collectively as The Fine Bros.

For years, they have been running Fine Bros. Entertainment on YouTube with the majority of their most well-known content being the reactions of others to various other media. Seriously, they have eleven different series’ on their channel that are just different demographics of people responding to games, music, and other videos.

Currently, they are caught up in the aftermath of a controversy that has cost them many subscribers. In fact, many other YouTubers have started live streams detailing their steadily dropping subscriber count while others flock to Twitter and proliferate the hashtag #UnsubscribeFineBros.

And all of this happened because they tried to trademark the word ‘React’.

Seems innocuous enough, right? Well, it isn’t when you think of just how common of a word ‘React’ is in the English language. If they had their way and got their trademark, The Fines would have the power to file a copyright strike on any channel that even used the word regardless of the context.

This is systemic of an even larger problem among the YouTube community. Because all copyright strikes are handled by an automated system rather than actual people, it’s remarkably easy to have a channel removed and disproportionally difficult to file a counterclaim in defense. Bare in mind that, for many of these people that fall victim to this broken system, the videos that they produce are their livelihoods; the source of the vast majority of their income to keep a roof over their heads. The end result of this is that someone can shut down your business without going through the due process on a whim.

None of this was helped by the actions of The Fines. During their infamous video dubbed simply and vaguely “Update” (which has since been removed by the channel itself), both of them seem so deadpan and sarcastic that you can’t help but feel like they aren’t being entirely truthful. Not to mention that the act of removing the video and several angry comments made them seem like they had something to hide.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this may very well be nothing but an over-reaction to this fine mess (BOOM! Two puns in one sentence, baby), but it does illustrate two things worth addressing; public relations in a post-information age world and reassessment of modern copyright laws.

First, this serves as an extension of one of my early articles documenting the PR catastrophe of Jon Jafari; AKA “JonTron.” In addition to choosing your words carefully so as not to offend people, you need to use language that isn’t vague. Vague words leave loopholes in interpretation that people can take advantage of and savvy consumers will be quick to share their (totally legitimate) fears with other less informed consumers.

Also in terms of PR, you should never try to hide or censor the comments of your critics or detractors. Instead, you need to address their problems – preferably in a public setting where others can bear witness – and reassure them that you are on the level.

Secondly, and shifting to copyright law, this ordeal shows just how broken the system really is. I may go into greater detail about everything wrong with modern copyright, but it would take more time than I have here and I want to stay focused on YouTube and The Fine Bros. Basically, we need to reassess copyright law and replace Youtube’s automated system with more accurate measures that don’t favor the accuser over the accused.