God is Advertiser Unfriendly on YouTube

God is Advertiser Unfriendly on YouTube

 EFF Free Speech - Even on YouTube

Check your faith at the door!

I am a "YouTube Creator" and have been since 2009 discussing all kinds of topics. So I am no stranger to the controversy over the past few years on the YouTube video platform that have occurred, especially the controversial "Advertiser Unfriendly" demonetization of videos.

Update: On April 4, 2018, a YouTuber who was censored and demonetized on their YouTube channel, open fired and shot several YouTube employees at YouTube's corporate office in San Francisco.  Here is a video commentary update on YouTube, I made regarding this incident which again simply supports this blog post regarding my own experience on YouTube.

In 2016 I began hearing on Twitter about discrimination against videos that discussed Christianity or anything considered a "Conservative" topic. I honestly was skeptical and I wasn't very concerned about it since the majority of my videos are about how to sell online.

However, I did previously have a channel that had been doing very well up until 2017 where I thought I noticed something very strange happening.  I had started up loading low key videos discussing how hope, faith and God had brought me through some difficult times. 

What had shocked me, was that all of those videos had horrible viewer rates that I couldn't understand.   At the time, I was also uploading videos to Vidme, a video streaming competitor to YouTube.  Many creators had hoped Vidme would become a great alternative for video creators who were experiencing selective screening and filtering targeting on YouTube for their content.

To my surprise, those same videos that were only being seen by 10 to 15 people in a year on YouTube were doing incredibly well on Vidme.  Not because I promoted them, not because I had a big following, but because people liked them and could relate to them.  My other channel on Vidme  was doing well also that had no mention of God, hope or faith. This second channel was a duplicate of my main YouTube channel.  There was no difference, other than the video themes.

So in 2017 I decided to do an experiment and I moved several of my videos about my hope and faith, to another channel I owned and at least initially those videos did really well and then around the same time, all the views on that channel for my faith life experience videos went flat also.  It seemed to coincidental.

In October 2017 when I made this video about YouTube Advertising policy changes complementing several other YouTube Bloggers like Phillip DeFranco, Glink, Caddicarus, Chad Wild Clay and GadgetGirlKylie. I had already started to see an on going theme, YouTube was definitely actively discriminating against videos with a Christian theme, but I wasn't certain how specifically. 

I knew it couldn't be coincidental. My following on all of my former channels were larger than any of my Vidme  channels, including the channel where the same videos were doing quite well.

My experiment on YouTube seemed to confirm what conservatives like Ted Cruz and Christians on Twitter were saying.  But I was still skeptical and unfortunately, Vidme  decided to shut down in December 2017. I took all my videos where I mentioned God or Faith offline from Vidme  since it was closing, and off YouTube because I thought no one liked them.

Moving forward to the present, my main YouTube channel that I use to help educate people who want to learn how to sell online has been doing quite well. This channel has seen a significant increase in subscribers and viewers.  Though mainly discussing marketplaces to sell on, I also discuss other topics, like filmmaking, music and retrogaming.

However, recently I was unable to produce any videos for a week because I was tied up with other projects.  Most videos take two to three days to produce, so I shoot and edit during the weekends a week in advance.  But not that particular weekend.

I decided to see how one of my old videos about how God and Faith got me through a tough week would go over on the main channel since I didn't have time to research of shoot the video topic intended.  I thought, "Who knows, maybe I had been wrong all along, maybe my former smaller channels were simply to small to reach anyone", despite what Vidme seemed to indicate.

I kept it low key, I didn't include "God" in the title, description or even the key words; after all it was really only a video about Faith, Hope and my experience during a week I was traveling across country and experienced all kinds of crazy and strange tragedies.  I'd seen videos of others who had no mention of God talk about their depression, despair, cutting, anorexia and how they coped receiving hundreds of thousands of views.  My video wasn't much different in their style other than I mention how I believe it was God who brought me through.

I'm a pretty down to earth, low key Christian. I do not get into peoples faces, i have and enjoy a number of friends who are agnostic or atheist and whether you are talking to me in person or watching a video I might make, if I mention God, its always in terms of my own experience.  If you do not ask my for about how God applies to you're life, I am not out to tell you.  I'll tell you my own experiences just like I would share my experiences about going to a Dodger Baseball game or how I fell off my bike while delivering a package for my small business to the post office.

So I was shocked this morning when I looked at my YouTube Creator app on my smart phone and saw that suddenly my video about my trip was hit with demonetization on YouTube.

It wouldn't have stood out if for any other reason than I have close to 200 videos on my main channel featuring a wide spectrum of topics from how to make money, music I produced, how to cook a quick meal, etc. and none of them were demonetized except a video I expected to get demonetized because I used a term we resellers use about Thrift Haul's that end up just sitting around called "Death Piles".  I just figured using the word Death in that particular video's title, description and graphic might get it targeted. But the video of this discussion does have any negative words and doesn't even mention God other than in a reflective manner in the actual verbal spoken dialog. Is Faith, Encouragement, Survival potentially hazardous to YouTube?

Interestingly, 10 hours earlier I had posted to my Facebook book account how shocked I was that the video was doing so well since last year it didn't get over 10 views.  It had already gained 50 views within the 1 day with 7 Likes and no dislikes.  

According to my analytics the video appeared to be headed for a significant rise that might out perform many of my other topic videos.  Andit would have until YouTube demonetized it which not only makes it not possible to earn revenue, but more importantly prevents it from receiving YouTube suggested viewer traffic. 

So I am no longer a skeptic.  I now have three years of experience and experimentation between two different Video Streaming Platforms, and different YouTube channel uploads that validates the insinuations made by Ted Cruz and others on Twitter. 

There are only two possible explanations considering this video had no dislikes, no negative comments and was being well received by the several thousands subscribers to my main channel.   

Either YouTube's audio screening algorithms specifically targeted the video because it mentions God or one of its new human video screeners targeted it because it mentions God.  I left off the possibility of it being "reported as offensive" by a viewer or subscriber, because I have other videos that really could be considered offensive.

For instance, in my 2016 April fools video (still monetized) I received a ton of complaints when I faked shooting myself in the head over the idea that eBay had been bought by another company.  Even in the description I suggest it.  This video has 7 dislikes.

What do I expect you to do about it?  Honestly, nothing!  Just like in the video this article is about, in which I talk about getting thrown into a police SUV in Oklahoma and all kinds of other bad things happening over that week; writing this article on Blogger is similar. I am just sharing something I have experienced, in this situation the difference is an observable discrimination against God by YouTube. 

Even as I write this on my Blogger account which is also owned by Google, I wonder if this article will encounter a similar kind of "Filtering" or if my candidness will lead to Google or YouTube kicking me off their platforms, banning my account or demonetizing my entire YouTube channel for speaking out or having an opinion.

While I did submit a "Review Request"; YouTube indicates that the video must reach 1,000 views first.  That often means videos like this one on YouTube that generally does not have a large organic following, will never be reviewed. Why? Because YouTube throttles demonetized videos by preventing them from appearing in suggested videos where the majority of videos receive their potential to be seen.  It's a nice way to for YouTube prevent a video from being reviewed by (A) Making the bar high (B) Preventing people who would enjoy the video from seeing it through YouTube's native suggestion algorithm.

It's possible that YouTube may fully reinstate the monetization, or just leave it with limited monetization by the time anyone reads this blog; but the greater problem still exists when a company deems that Faith in God is evil, inappropriate or culturally unacceptable by the mass majority.

Until YouTube operates in a non-bias, non-discriminator manner; I'll simply keep making videos and blogging about while maintaining my association with the EFF aka Electronic Freedom Foundation, an organization committed to protecting free speech online.

Here is the actual video of the subject of this article, if you would like to see it for yourself.