By: +David Herron; Date: June 17, 2019
One side of this problem is the allure of a large platform allowing The Masses to publish whatever we want. Because the content is published on that large platform, it automatically gets more visibility than content published on some podunk individually owned website.
Another side is that YouTube and Google owns the platform and legally is required to police content posted to the site. And, Google gets to decide the direction YouTube will take and we, who post content to YouTube, have no say in the matter.
Another side is that YouTube is clearly moving in a direction involving large media players, and it seems likely the individuals will get lost in the mix.
Finally pressure is being placed on YouTube to "do something" about hate speech, fake news, etc. For example it was recently seen that videos promoting Nazi points of view have been summarily removed from YouTube. That move affected one of my sites, where I had curated a list of documentaries about the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany and it seems those videos have been removed from YouTube.
I haven't done much on YouTube, but I have done plenty of publishing via a large platform.
Namely, 10 years ago I started writing news articles for
examiner.com, one of the pre-eminent platforms for so-called Citizen Journalism. At the time
examiner.com had a "staff" of tens of thousands of writers, we were told to think of ourselves as Journalists, and anything we wrote was submitted to Google News for inclusion into the regular news stream. In return for our labors we were paid about $0.01 per view of our articles.
I put a lot of work into my role as a Citizen Journalist. I wrote hundreds of news articles via
examiner.com, and at the most earned maybe $300 a month. Nowhere near enough income to live in Silicon Valley. There were writers making a full time living on
examiner.com but most of us were like me, getting a few scraps for our efforts.
In July 2016,
examiner.com summarily closed its doors and completely removed our content from the Internet. They didn't even provide a mechanism for us to download our articles. I was able to write a script to retrieve the text of all my articles, but most Examiners weren't so lucky and totally lost everything they'd worked to put onto the Examiner website. See: The demise of examiner.com, what's it mean for citizen journalism?
Currently I'm exploring using
medium.com in a similar way. Medium offers a so-called partner program where Medium will pay revenue based on traffic to your articles. I've posted a couple articles there, earned a few dollars, and the jury is out yet whether it will be worth my while to post there. I imagine, however, there are many people looking at Medium as if it will be their ticket to freedom, and they're looking to tie themselves to the Medium platform and publish enough content so they can retire to a beach somewhere.
The problem is expecting the owner of this large platform to care about you. Examiner did not care about us, the people who made Examiner what it was. Examiner changed the rules, then changed the rules, then changed the rules, and made it harder and harder for Examiners to do their job, until finally Examiner shut down.
Medium has changed its rules several times. Currently there is an exodus of Publications away from Medium as a result of a recent rule change. Surely we can expect Medium will someday make a rule change to shut out individual writers?
I called this section Digital Serfs because it's like Serfdom. Our wellbeing (income) is tied to the benevolence of a large organization that cares nothing us.
When I wrote news articles for Examiner, I was all excited about the opportunity to make a difference in the world, and to get news articles about electric vehicles into the news system. Examiner did not care a thing about my personal goals and mission. Examiner shut down the website and did not care a thing about my dashed dreams.
Another example comes from several years ago in the early days of Podcasting. An early podcast hosting platform - I forget its name - had become popular among Podcasters. Then one year, along about December 23 or December 24, when everyone was getting ready for Christmas, that Podcast hosting provider suddenly announced it was closing down on January 1. Further, that the content hosted on their machines would be deleted. That meant the Podcasters using that platform had to scramble, during Christmas holidays, to straighten things out. And, many of them were on trips and probably did not receive the notification until after January 1 and possibly lost all their content. Merry Christmas.
That's what I think about watching the video above, and the other similar videos I've seen the last couple years.
I wish these YouTube Creators the best, and I also wish for them to understand their actual role. They may think they are independent content creators. Their status in the world can be yanked at any moment because YouTube makes the rules for YouTube.
Characterizing the voices in the video
The video spent a half hour rehashing the same idea over and over. But, despite its length, it relied on about 15 YouTube Creators. Therefore the story it presents is possibly slanted by being such a small sample size.
By my estimate the majority of those talking in the video run channels promoting Conservative or White Supremacist causes. While we appreciate the right to freedom of speech, what do you do with content which actively promotes hate speech? Or content that violates the law in other ways?
It is possible some of those folks crying crocodile tears were promoting hate filled points of view, promoting violence against racial minorities, etc, and then are turning around to cry that their right to freedom of speech is being violated by YouTube.
It's not that all the voices in the video are doing that sort of video. I recognized one of them as a pair of guys making nice music videos, who were complaining that mysteriously Google had stopped monetizing their videos.
I don't think "everyone" is leaving YouTube.
I think the wiser way to approach YouTube is to use it as a source of traffic to your own property.
I think it is best for individual "content creators" to own their own platform and not trust the 3rd party platform. Instead we should be using the 3rd party platforms wisely as a means of drawing traffic to our own site.
Earlier postings about YouTube
- Re-uploading creative commons videos to YouTube is risky idea that might make you money
- New YouTube Adpocalypse, where YouTube videos demonetized by offensive comments
- Scotty at Strange Parts opens the door into how YouTube Creators build their business
- Example YouTube advertising revenue decline -- but YouTube huckster ignores adpocalypse
- The YouTube Adpocalypse enraged a YouTuber to randomly shooting people at YouTube HQ
- YouTube video recommendation algorithm reportedly preferences conspiracy videos
- Google possibly dooms YouTube by explicitly cancelling monetization for channels with low viewership
- A look into the YouTube Adpocalypse - Video Blogger shows how his revenue has dried up
- As Google commercializes YouTube, individual "creators" may be squeezed out