Many business owners and content creators use YouTube as a means to showcase products and services, as well as share information with fans and clients. However, when you have a user-generated content system that’s available to the hold world, it’s necessary to have safeguards to prevent problematic content from spreading across the web. Last week, YouTube and the FTC introduced some new rules for channels that marketers should take into consideration.
Creating a YouTube channel, whether for personal use or business purposes, takes a lot of time and effort. The worst thing that can happen to a channel is to have a channel deleted or for the channel creator to find themselves in legal trouble due to their content. Internet giants like Google and YouTube can get into a lot of trouble if the content violates certain standards is allowed to be shown on their platform. To prevent this from happening, there are terms of services, penalties, and other tactics that YouTube uses to stay out of trouble.
Last week, YouTube announced an interesting change in the way some channels will be punished. YouTube stated that they could (and presumably would) delete channels that they don’t feel are “commercially viable.” If such a designation sounds very vague, that’s the point. Many channels try to toe the line or thread the needle to create content that doesn’t violate the YouTube terms of service but are still offensive to people (and advertisers) who find the content online.
With YouTube’s latest announcement, they seem to be saying that they will take action against channels that cause problems for the platform. YouTube has done this in the past, so the change in policy isn’t as grandiose as some might think. For example, YouTube often demonetizes channels that have questionable content. With the latest update to its terms of service, YouTube is saying that it can unilaterally delete problematic channels.
In announcing the change that will go into effect on Dec. 10th, YouTube’s TOS have been modified to say, “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.”
The growth of crowdfunding sites is one of the reasons why these changes are necessary. People with YouTube accounts that are demonetized can still make a lot of money by posting content and getting viewers to support them on a platform like Patreon.
For most business owners who use YouTube, the updated Terms of Service shouldn’t be an issue. However, it’s important to be aware of these issues before embarking on an edgy YouTube campaign. If the company goes too far, they could lose access to their videos and their followers.
A change that may be more relevant for business owners on YouTube is the way the company will comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA). YouTube was sued for $170 million for violating COPPA. Among the new rules they implemented was a ban on targeted ads to children under 13. This change will reduce the revenue of content creators who make content for kids, and this could also affect businesses that use their YouTube channel to market to kids (e.g. gaming videos, toy collectors, etc.).
It gets worse, As CNET explained in a recent article, “Channels that post kids videos but don’t identify them as such run the risk of getting hit with their own ‘aggressive’ FTC fines, according to the commission.”
With the holidays around the corner, businesses that have content that could run afoul of COPPA should take the time to make sure their offerings and settings are in line with the updated rules.
For more news about YouTube, read this article on algorithm updates that affects channels that produce content aimed at kids.