YouTube, known bastion of good judgment and digital ethics, turns out to have reportedly given preferential treatment to some of its top creators, even when those creators’ behavior was less than tops. Eleven former and current YouTube moderators told the Washington Post the company had a double standard for certain YouTubers, namely controversial but famous ones who pull in big ad revenue — creators like Logan Paul, Steven Crowder, and PewDiePie. Which is a deeply unsurprising list if you’re at all familiar with anybody in that content triumvirate.
From the Post:
The moderators interviewed by the Washington Post say that their recommendations to strip advertising from videos that violate the site’s rules were frequently overruled by higher-ups within YouTube when the videos involved higher-profile content creators who draw more advertising. Plus, they say, many of the rules are ineffective and contradictory to start with.
“When I started this job, I thought, I’m going to help get bad content away from kids,” one former moderator said. “Our responsibility was never to the creators or to the users — it was to the advertisers.” YouTube denied all the claims, the Post reports, “saying it enforces rules equally and tries to draw the line in the right places.”
A quick internet-history lesson for you: Logan Paul is best known for that time he found an apparent suicide victim hanging from a tree in Japan and decided to vlog it. (YouTube took its sweet time dealing with Paul, temporarily pulling ads from his channel two months after the dead-body video because Paul had posted a video of himself tasering a rat.) “It felt like a slap in the face,” one moderator told the Post. “You’re told you have specific policies for monetization that are extremely strict. And then Logan Paul broke one of their biggest policies and it became like it never happened.”
PewDiePie, formally YouTube’s most-followed account, was dropped by Disney in 2017 after posting a now-deleted video that included two men he’d paid to make and hold a sign reading, “Death to All Jews.” (Reviews of his channel found several more instances of anti-Semitic content.) And right-wing commentator Steven Crowder had his channel demonetized in June … after he repeatedly hurled anti-gay and anti-immigrant slurs like “gay Mexican,” “lispy queer,” “anchor baby,” and “token Vox gay atheist sprite” at Vox host Carlos Maza. YouTube, which never reached out to Maza about the continued harassment by Crowder and his fans — at one point Maza was doxed — initially responded by saying, while it didn’t endorse Crowder’s viewpoint, his content could remain on the platform. Crowder later posted an “apology” video, including a link to purchase his “Socialism Is for F*gs” shirts for $25.