Thoughts: Changes to the Youtube T&Cs
So last week something pretty significant happened concerning the Youtube world, an update to the current T&Cs which resulted in a (pretty overly dramatic if you ask me) #youtubeisoverparty hashtag floating around.
Since then I've seen a slew of opinion popping up across social media and what this could mean for content creators. I purposefully didn't express any opinion on this on my Twitter page because, A) I don't do that anymore - more on this in next weeks post - and B) because I wanted to sit back, let the info stew for a second and then make my decision on my stance. The most important thing to me on social media at the moment is managing my reaction, one thing that seems to be compromising social media right now is everyone's knee jerk reaction to just think and tweet, to me it rarely results in positive interactions and with things like this, it's really important to think about facts and information that is bigger than you and how things are going to only affect you. Of course as a content creator, any update can be a risk, but I just wanted to throw in my 2 cents and provide perhaps a slightly more balanced and hopefully helpful view on why changes like these are pretty necessary for a platform as vast and diverse as Youtube.
And before we get into it I think it's really important to suggest that we look at these changes not so much as censorship, as many have suggested, but more as responsibility. If we do this it becomes much clearer to see the necessity for it.
For those of you that aren't aware, YouTube updated its T&Cs to the reflect the following:
At first look yes I agree, looking at the profanity section can suggest that any sort of personality may be lost and the preference to harmless, 24 year olds talking like 12 year old content is what will prevail. But like the instagram algorithm before this, we'll never really know how easy this will be to enforce/keep track of/how sensitive it will be, until it really gets going.
So let's unpack this a little bit...
Most people's worry is that when it comes to subjects like mental health and social issues their voices won't be able to be heard anymore, and as much as initially this seems like a very negative thing to be happening, upon stepping back and understanding Youtube and its position in the media, I can completely understand why this measure needs to be taken.
The thing about YouTube, is as much as it can move things forward in terms of mental health awareness and understanding social issues, we need to remember this is a public platform, anyone can say anything; negative or positive, and it's important that a platform as large as YouTube takes responsibility for this. With the nature of the internet, enforcements can't be made, for example TV has the watershed, but when it comes to the internet, anyone can access anything at anytime, and whilst each content creator may feel they are being responsible about the views and content they put out, unfortunately YouTube isn't just about you and your channel, it's about millions of channels. Like Tumblr there's a dark side to this platform. When talking about mental health specifically, most content creators will get amped off the fact that they'll get a stream of comments reading something like, 'omg this helped me so much' and 'thanks for having the courage to do this', and so on and so forth.
And yes I think it's important that issues are spoken about to show normality and the fact no-one is alone in how they can feel but creators need to understand that yes, whilst they may help give clarity and context to a viewers situation, 'helping them get through life' is a broad term, and in fact it's not the creator that will ultimately help them, it's the real people around them that will help them. It's easy to get carried away assuming everyone is friends but creators use this to their advantage, when subscribers are being kind and stroking their ego their the best of friends, their biggest support system and people they couldn't live without, but if those bad comments start rolling in it quickly turns from can't live without you, to you don't really know me, the creator always holds the key to this accessibility they have created and can open and close this access as and when they need to. Much like celebrities before them, creators aren't going to be here forever and subscribers, like me after the Take That breakup, will eventually understand it's only themselves that can ensure future happiness, not a stranger speaking at you from their bedroom. Although I'm not disagreeing with the fact that this can help to spur on acceptance of individual situations and therefore promote progression in terms of survival, I would just argue that there is an aspect of this that is self indulgent and narcissistic. Being someone that has suffered from compromised mental health, as I mention it IS important to bring these issues up and to normalise the feelings in terms of how often they occur and how many people they affect, but I do think it can be a tricky area in terms of being able to establish what's appropriate on a platform like Youtube.
Now let's look at the main reason a lot of creators could be worried about this. These changes only affect MONITISED content, so freedom of speech and content creation isn't actually being booted off of Youtube, but if you do earn a living from it, you may need to tone it down. So let's think about this as a whole. For those that have been lucky enough to pursue social media as a career, this was always going be a risk, like with any job, the rug can be pulled from underneath you at anytime and being such a new way of earning a living, it's essential that creators are realistic in terms of this industry. It's new, it's fast and no-one knows how long it'll be around for so when it comes to planning for the future, like with any freelancer, it's always essential to have some kind of backup plan and to especially save and invest any surplus fortune you make. Having the luxury to be able to save anything is quite a rarity these days so for those that have access to a few thousand a month to put it bluntly, why the f**k haven't you been saving?
I do worry about people like Blair White and a few other 'outspoken' creators that I have respect for as I think they have really valid points. But as this does only really affect those who monitise their content, maybe it's time to go back and assess why you originally started this...as a hobby?
All in all I'm just urging everyone to chill out, stop being so self involved and look at the world around you. Both Twitter and Facebook have some form of 'censorship' and yet I can still access racist, violent and offensive content at the click of a button. This is the same with Youtube, everything from Pro Anorexia advice, homophobic and racist hate rants to animals being horrifically mistreated exist on this platform, and with 2016 having been as shocking as it has been both culturally and socially, I think it's time people started exercising some responsibility and practising a little more positivity.
So all in all, if you're losing your s**t because you might not be able to say f**k anymore, just sit back and think about the actual issues surrounding this, and hopefully, you'll understand, it really doesn't have to be such a big deal.