The relationship between the communications giant Google and the cryptoasset industry can be characterized as somewhat antagonistic.
Now, its video-sharing platform, YouTube seems to be on the offensive, de-platforming some crypto-related content creators, leaving them looking for viable alternatives.
No tube for you
As early as 2019, reports began to emerge from content creators within the cryptosphere who claimed that they were receiving warnings from YouTube about the content in their videos. In many cases, videos were removed, forcing the content creators to appeal the decision. In more extreme cases, some content creators found their YouTube channels de-platformed.
Towards the end of 2019, these claims reached a fever pitch as the crypto community noticed a purge of crypto-related material on YouTube. Channels like BTC Sessions, ChrisDunnTV, and Crypto Tips received warnings and had numerous videos deleted.
On December 23, 2019, Chris Dunn questioned YouTube’s choices saying, “YouTube just removed most of my crypto videos citing “harmful or dangerous content” and “sale of regulated goods”… it’s been 10 years of making videos, 200k+ subs, and 7M+ views. WTF are you guys doing?!”
Given the widespread nature of the deletions, speculation rose about YouTube’s motives. Considering restrictions on crypto and blockchain ads on Google, some members of the crypto community believed the video-sharing platform was purposefully participating in censorship.
YouTube eventually released a statement, saying that the deletions were accidental and urging content creators to appeal any decisions they feel were made in error. For content creators like Chris Dunn, however, going through the appeal process in order to have the videos reinstated did not always work. Dunn said, “Today, YouTube not only took down the videos that they reinstated yesterday, but they took down at least one other video that they’d never taken down before.”
COVID-19 workforce measures
In March 2020, YouTube’s parent company Google announced a number of measures it was taking to ensure the safety of its employees in light of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. Google and its subsidiaries would begin to limit the number of employees coming into the office in order to reduce the spread of the disease. On March 15, YouTube published a statement detailing how its move to limit employee activity within the centralized working spaces would affect content creators.
The video-sharing platform said that “automated systems will start removing some content without human review, so we can continue to act quickly to remove violative content and protect our ecosystem, while we have workplace protections in place.”
Unfortunately for creators on YouTube, the measures would mean there would be an uptick in video removals. While AI is helpful in many ways, the technology lacks nuances and is likely to flag up content as if it is in violation, when it is in fact not. Knowing this, YouTube stated they would not issue a punitive warning against creators whose videos were flagged unless it was determined without a doubt the content was violative.
The platform also reiterated its open-door appeal policy, which they believe provides the content creator power to overturn a decision they feel to be unfair. YouTube further noted that the process would take longer because of the aforementioned employee measures.
Since YouTube began to enforce its workforce policies, crypto and blockchain content has seen an uptick in deletions. Beginning in March, complaints are turning into a loud buzz as the year progresses. For instance, Lark Davis, who publishes content under The Crypto Lark channel had 11 videos deleted, all in April. The videos were mostly crypto-related news with the most recent being an interview with blockchain evangelist, Andreas Antonopoulos. YouTube eventually reinstated some of his videos.
Other content creators were not as lucky as they had their channels banned. Blockchain education channel BTC Sessions and popular crypto YouTuber Tone Vays both had no access to their channels for around 24 hours.
Creators like Crypto Crow, Ivan on Tech and The Moon, and even the Roger Ver-led Bitcoin.com channel were banned, albeit temporarily, from the video-sharing platform.
Options and the power of YouTube
While YouTube is not working for crypto and blockchain content creators, many feel beholden to the platform due to a combination of factors. However, they are now starting to look for hosting options for their content, especially decentralized platforms. After their channel reinstatement, BTC Sessions, for example, announced that they would begin to publish content on other platforms, such as Twitter, Twitch, and blockchain-based DLive.
The Blockchain Education Network (BEN), a YouTube channel that has also been flagged, started to publish content on DTube and LBRY – both blockchain-based platforms. DTube has sizeable viewership, it struggles with bandwidth and can fail uploading videos.
Other decentralized platforms that crypto content creators have been leveraging are Hive and 3speak.
While there are options for content creators to migrate to, YouTube’s superior bandwidth and market reach are still hard to beat.
The presumable world’s biggest independent video content creator, PewDiePie, whose real name is Felix KjellbergPewDiePie, is a good example of this. After a year of live streaming exclusively on DLive, he went back to YouTube where he signed an exclusive streaming deal.