According tomedia outlet The Verge, the new corona virus outbreak has been a hot topic of discussion recently, but you may hear some YouTubers shun the topic – if they talk about it, they risk being shut down. Linus Tech Tips host Linus Sebastian said in a video: “For today’s video, I won’t comment directly on the recent health-related news because A, I’m not a healthcare professional, B, I don’t need to demonet my video.” “
YouTube has demonetised videos on sensitive topics in the past. The company’s advertising guide notes that sensitive topics (usually recent events, “usually loss of life due to pre-planned malicious attacks”) are generally not appropriate for advertising. The videos are allowed to remain on the platform; they just can’t profit from YouTube’s built-in advertising service.
YouTube says the outbreak of the new corona virus is now considered a sensitive topic. Tom Leung, YouTube’s product director, said in a recent video: “As a result, all videos focused on the subject will be de-monetized until further notice.” This policy is designed to protect advertisers.
The topic of the new coronavirus meets typical criteria. More than 95,000 cases of COVID-19 (disease caused by the new coronavirus) have been reported worldwide, and more than 3,200 people have died. Fears of a spread of the virus have led organizers of major technology conferences to cancel or postpone events, including Google I/O, Facebook’s F8 and the annual game developer conference. Disney’s theme parks across Asia are closing, and more and more offices are asking employees to stay at home.
Sebastian isn’t the only creator worried about their video being demonetized. Jonathan Downey, who runs the popular gaming channel Spawn Wave, recently produced a video about the cancellation of the Game Developers Conference. He tried to avoid using the word “new corona virus” to preserve the value of video monetization, but that didn’t work. Another YouTube creator running the Nintendo Prime channel said “two or three” videos mentioned to the virus were blocked. “I used an acronym like a CV, but it was still marked as inappropriate,” Downey tweeted. “This is in a video about the cancellation of the GDC, so perhaps talking about events affected by the new corona virus can also trigger its bots to review. “
However, not every video is demonetized. News channels often play videos about sensitive topics and ads because they provide their own ads. This problem arises again and again. In 2017, Casey Neistat and Philip DeFranco took aim at YouTube, pointing out that they were giving preferential treatment to news channels. Both creators have produced videos of the Las Vegas mass shooting that killed more than 50 people and began monetizing to donate proceeds to different charities. YouTube de-monetizes videos, but continues to allow ads on themed videos through channels such as the Jimmy Kimmel Show.
The incident led the YouTube community to see it as a distinction between premium channels or “whitelist” channels (channels that bring their own ad deals) and videos from regular creators. The company told The Verge that there is a strict policy governing which videos are allowed to be shown, and that the application of the policy is unbiased. The company also told The Verge that if the creators’ channels were dedicated to sensitive topics, they should still be able to make money when making videos about stories such as the new coronavirus.
YouTube is looking for its advertisers. The company generated $15 billion in advertising revenue in 2019 alone, and working with advertisers to determine where to place the ads is critical. But creators want to be able to make a difference on topics such as coronavirus outbreaks, especially because they are related to other interests, such as games or theme parks, without having to worry about losing advertising revenue.