Demonetization alone won’t solve YouTube’s content issues

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When YouTube was launched as a video sharing site in 2005, it was meant to be a platform for anyone to create content free of charge. Not only was there no such thing as a social media celebrity when the site started, but the thought that people could eventually make millions of dollars off of the videos they posted was beyond the scope of imagination.

In the wake of YouTube millionaire Logan Paul’s recent video controversies, YouTube has formally adopted new policies to punish creators who post disturbing or violent videos. The video sharing site now allows for moderators to demonetize channels that post damaging content and has since demonetized Paul’s channel, along with several others.

Today, YouTube stars have become just as common as any other kind of celebrity and being a content creator has become a lucrative career for those who can rack up views and subscribers.

With so much money up for grabs and an internet culture that pushes people to crave increasingly edgy, controversial content, it’s not surprising that Logan Paul released a highly offensive video to his subscribers.

It makes perfect sense to have policies to curb harmful content, but YouTube’s monetization system is built to push people to create increasingly edgier content to generate more views, break more records and make more money from ad revenues.

Because of this, YouTube creators like Paul have been rewarded for their controversial antics with more views and subscribers.

While it’s a step in the right direction to stop being complacent about the circulation of disturbing content, YouTube may never eradicate videos like Paul’s completely. Without pushing for a massive shift in the video sharing culture they’ve created, YouTube will remain a home for damaging content.

Demonetization itself, for creators that make money off of harmful acts or exploit others for purposes of publicity, isn’t quite enough. Even if their videos alone can no longer generate dollars per view, creators can still turn a profit by selling merchandise to their viewers as long as their videos remain on the site. 

Demonetization may be the right step now, but it can’t be the only one taken if YouTube is really committed to stopping its rewarding of problematic behavior.

— Journal Editorial Board

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