YouTube is a fundamental element of our lives now. While it is great and gives you access to useful quality content most of the times, it is also a twisted maze that keeps you occupied for hours and hours. Millions of people are making money off of making YouTube videos, but that is no secret right?
YouTube may not be the only video website on the internet, but it has billions of more users than any other site of the sort, for example, Vimeo. This entertainment monopoly has the world wrapped up in its hand, but it has some dark secrets that it does not want you to know of.
5. YouTube Censors Videos Featuring Conservatives and LGBT Performers
Ever left your child alone watching a Disney video on YouTube and came back to them watching some weird pickup artist video? Yeah, YouTube is a funny place. To save you those troubles, the site offers a restricted mode that filters out inappropriate content like bad language, drugs, and *surprise surprise* gay people. If enough people flag a video for having controversial content, it will go down the restricted mode. This could be a video from some conservative commentator, a feminist, LGBTQ members or even a completely normal law professor.
This happened to Alan Dershowitz for discussing the legal controversies about the founding of Israel. Another video of a lesbian couple reciting their wedding vows was also put under the restricted mode, and no one really understands why and the LGBTQ members ended up asking if YouTube has a problem with gay people dancing?
Well, YouTube ended up apologizing and said the feature was not working as it should have and the site will make it easier for people to restore videos that were wrongly put under the restricted tab.
4. YouTube makes a massive business out of exploiting children
You would think that it is only adults behind the YouTube videos but considering kids’ interest in anything that is brightly colored and has some music, YouTube has just the right set of tools to offer. People who make videos for toddlers only form a small part of the billions of dollars of the site’s profit. You might be questioning if making videos for kid’s entertainment is something wrong, well it’s not. Except, sometimes the people making the videos are toddlers themselves.
Ryan ToysReview is a YouTube channel featuring a 3-year-old kid who “reviews” toys by playing with them. Ryan reviews dozens of toys in each of the videos, maximizing their attraction to millions of kids around the world. The mom chooses to stay anonymous while publicizing her child’s entire life. You might think the kid is spoiled, but the mom says all those toys are donated to charity.
Kids watch these videos a million times over, and this has initiated another kind of child entertainers on the website, who as toddlers have become richer than you could imagine. All such channels collectively generate 4.5 billion views a month and get lots of encouragement from toy manufacturers who are saved plenty of effort by having someone else exploit kids for them.
3. YouTube rewards quantity over quality
You would think that quality content would be important to a site as successful as YouTube, but the scenario is different. The “recommended for you” videos that the site suggests happens when a channel reaches 5,000 subscribers. The YouTube algorithm then promotes your videos to find new subscribers getting you to boost the view rate while getting users to watch more videos and sell advertisements.
YouTube has brought in a “Watch Time” metric to make its efforts more successful to destroy our attention span. Initially, a channel was awarded for more views but the new algorithm values the channels that upload videos frequently and of longer runtimes; all to make sure that we stay glued to our screens for hours. Someone who makes hours of videos blabbering in front of their screens will be more successful than someone creating high-quality content with a lot of effort.
These new algorithms are bad news for people like animators who create labor-intensive content, spending weeks at a time for videos of a couple of minutes. These people not only get less exposure minimizing their watch time, the best paying advertisers are distributed via Watch Time, so the animators will be getting less paying advertisers and even fewer views, essentially making them poorer. From what YouTube is doing, we will soon only be watching boring people doing totally not fun stuff.
2. YouTube screws over with artists
The internet is really the best place for someone to show their creative abilities. It provides you access to all kinds of audiences making artistic people huge stars, obviously with hard work and luck. Except, the internet has a million ways to make sure these people do not make money off of their work. YouTube maybe the top of the list to make that happen. Musicians like Paul McCartney, Radiohead, Taylor Swift, and U2 have demanded that YouTube remove the videos illegally using their content and the fight has spread over a decade, all to no avail. Prince threatened to sue YouTube back in 2007 saying, “They are clearly able to filter porn and pedophile material, but appear to choose not to filter out the unauthorized music and film content which is core to their business success.”
Most of these artists, however, care more about the principle than the money itself.
1. The system is designed to lock people in absurd contacts
YouTube has brought popularity to everyone’s easier access, and YouTube is trying to make sure all these people get a fair access. Who are we kidding? Of course, they are not. If they are exploiting kids, won’t they be exploiting the hundreds of people making videos out of a slightly cleaner portion of their rooms with their smartphones? People would just agree to anything to get their videos on YouTube to make some pennies. When Youtube’s paid subscription model “YouTube Red” was launched, the site made all content creators sign up for it, or their videos will be hidden from the public. Genius bullying! Well, the site was obviously criticized but as they announced that, 99% of the creators had agreed and everyone else was just making a fuss.
You would think only YouTube is doing it but the same mentality is shared by the big channels on the site with many content contributors. These channels bind people to absurdly one-sided agreements. We can easily think of these as a modern kind of slavery. The next time a YouTube studio offers to sign you up, you would know what is happening. But there aren’t much ways to make money off of your videos otherwise.