YouTube constantly seems to be skirting controversy, the latest is news that updated terms and conditions give the company the ability to terminate channels without prior warning.
These terms are set to come in to place from December 10 and potentially puts millions of channels and creators at risk in ways that the current terms don’t. In simple terms, YouTube is giving itself the ability to delete channels that don’t make the platform enough money.
[Update 2]: YouTube has tweeted from the @TeamYouTube account to clarify the stance on this existing clause being given new prominence within ToS. They have confirmed that channels they won’t terminate channels if they do not make money.
The wording is, in fact, referring to the actual YouTube platform rather than ‘channels’. Meaning that termination will be of defunct or underused features like the internal YouTube messaging platform or YouTube Studio Classic. So panic over.
To clarify, there are no new rights in our ToS to terminate an account bc it’s not making money. As before, we may discontinue certain YouTube features or parts of the service, for ex., if they're outdated or have low usage. This does not impact creators/viewers in any new ways.
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) November 11, 2019
This is fantastic news but it’s a little disappointing that it wasn’t made immediately clear from the original ToS. Hopefully, we can see further updates be less obtuse and far more clear when published.
[Update 1]: After reaching out, a spokesperson has told us that YouTube has “made some changes to our Terms of Service in order to make them easier to read and to ensure they’re up to date. We’re not changing the way our products work, how we collect or process data, or any of your settings.”
The spokesperson also went on to make it clear that this, in fact, isn’t a new clause and has always been part of the existing terms. The enhanced visibility and prominence has been added to help ensure that creators and users are far more aware of the already existing terms. Despite that it’s still difficult to ascertain how this particular clause is currently enforced, or how it may be enforced in future.
It’s likely that this clause exists to protect both advertisers and viewers from potentially harmful video content that could be shared on the platform.
In the updated terms section titled “Account Suspension & Termination”, the new plans include the following new statement:
YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.
It’s worth noting that nothing remotely close to this exists in the current YouTube Terms of Service — which were last updated in July 2019. YouTube started sending out emails notifying people of the new terms in a much more digestible format and it has not gone down well over on Reddit.
We don’t know for certain how YouTube will determine how a channel is ‘no longer commercially viable’ before termination simply because of how vague it is. YouTube could terminate channels that consume tons of video content but use ad-blocking software or extensions.
Additionally, YouTube could even delete Google accounts associated with YouTube accounts and profiles. The new terms state that Gmail, Google Photos, Google Docs, and Drive access can be lost just because their YouTube account is no longer ‘commercially viable’.
We’re not sure just how YouTube will determine which channels meet these new criteria or if it is simply a safety net for repeat offenders who attempt to circumvent the already existing terms. 9to5Google has reached out to YouTube for comment and further information and will update this post should we receive a response.
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