In February 2021 independent news sources such as Progressive Soapbox, The Convo Couch, and others were demonetized by YouTube, the latest instances in a history of YouTube penalizing independent and alternative voices, removing entire channels or videos with no explanation, underlining concerns of censorship on the platform. YouTube told the creators that their channels contained videos that violated YouTube’s community guidelines, yet failed to inform or comment on which content was in violation. YouTube is a unique platform for independent voices, and YouTube’s move not only censors those voices but also puts smaller outlets under financial distress. With an unclear appeal process, it is unknown how long the accounts will remain deactivated. As Caitlin Johnston writes for Consortium News, “These accounts could remain demonetized for months, or forever, without any clear explanation at all.”
Other punitive measures from YouTube range from putting heavy restrictions on accounts to completely banning a channel. After receiving YouTube’s notification, Progressive Soapbox tweeted, “You guys have destroyed my channel without legit explanation as to why… frankly there is literally zero ‘harmful’ content on my channel.” Ford Fischer, another victim of demonetization tweeted, “Last time you demonetized my channel, I spoke out for seven months….Please don’t do this again.”
There have been no news reports from corporate news media about the demonetization of these specific independent content creators. However, there are major news networks that have mentioned similar deplatforming stories involving other videos and channels. For instance, a widely circulated story from March of 2020 criticized YouTube’s restrictions on Bella Thorne’s music video.
Source: Caitlyn Johnstone, “YouTube Financially Deplatforms Swath of Indie Media,” Consortium News, February 5, 2021, https://consortiumnews.com/2021/02/05/YouTube-financially-deplatforms-swath-of-indie-media/.
Student Researchers: Trinity Marshall, Allison Okeley, and Mackenzie Bardol (Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame)
Faculty Evaluator: Helen K. Ho (Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame)