YouTube has finally reversed its ban after shutting down a host of video blogs (vlogs) earlier this month without notification. However, there has been no explanation as to why the channels were pulled in the first place.
The favorite channels featured thousands of hours of players filming themselves playing for cash, some in casinos or others merely playing online.
YouTube deemed that such videos violated the community guidelines, which are in-house rules that vloggers need to abide by.
Why did YouTube suspend these channels?
In early June, YouTube suspended an unknown number of gambling channels and sent an email explaining that the suspensions were due to “repeated or severe violations”.
This was the first time most of these channels had heard of any wrongdoing, and there was little chance for redress because YouTube doesn’t always reply to violation inquiries.
The email that accounts received said, in part: “YouTube doesn’t allow content that encourages or promotes violent or dangerous acts that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death. For example, it’s not okay to post videos showing drug abuse, underage drinking, and smoking, or bomb making.”
But the thing is, nowhere does YouTube explicitly mention gambling as prohibited content and its policy regarding gambling channels has never been elaborated upon.
Pulling revenue from earners
This isn’t the first time that YouTube has created sweeping new measures without explaining why.
In January, YouTube changed its monetization policies, making it harder for creators to earn money via ads. Instead of all accounts offered an advertising platform, the new rules stated that vloggers needed to meet a viewer threshold to keep their ads.
Influencers weren’t happy, and the ads were reinstated after a public outcry. Now the gambling channels have been similarly reinstated.
YouTuber Brian Christopher, who owns the BrianChristopherSlots channel, has said that he is looking to leave YouTube and continue on Facebook instead. He said: “YouTube doing this stuff absolutely jeopardizes my business relationships. I’m in contact with the casinos I was supposed to visit, I’m trying to put them at ease and continue on Facebook.”
The crackdown involved accounts being completely shut down and the targeted users being banned from accessing or creating any other YouTube accounts. Some gambling-related channels have hundreds of thousands of users, and this move could have crippled them as it stops them making money. A channel’s subscriber count allows the creator to negotiate deals with gambling-related products and services.
From Russia, now with love
However, YouTube has since reinstated the channels, possibly because its ongoing debacle with Russia was finally solved thanks to an interruption by the President himself.
The Internet Video Association in Russia has been known for complaining about YouTube’s online casino adverts, which play automatically before some videos. This prompted Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) to request that Google, which owns YouTube, block such advertising in the country.
However, the video streaming channel was saved by YouTube fan President Putin himself, who last week announced that the video platform would not be blacklisted.
In response to a blogger’s question about banning social networks, Putin said: “I understand your concerns and the bafflement of those people with whom you browse on the internet. We are not going to close anything,”
Last year he signed off on a law that created a blacklist of gambling operators offering services in Russia who were not based or registered there. The ruling came into effect in January this year.
In April, Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), at the request of the Federal Tax Service, cracked down on 250 websites for carrying illegal online casino and bookmaker advertising.
Roskomnadzor announced that it had received almost 90,000 complaints about online gambling websites in its first quarter this year, nearly a six-fold increase from 2017.
This latest YouTube ruling is really a warning that, no matter how profitable a blog, if you can’t control it you must be prepared to lose it.