YouTubers on Strike… What’s with the Walkout?

YouTube creators and users are going on strike this week, urging people to avoid the platform…

Online platforms’ Terms of Service has been a subject of ongoing contention for longer than I care to recount, but YouTube’s recent update on 10th December to its terms presents a worrying reality for content creators.

YouTube have added a clause that allows it to delete content and channels it deems as non-‘commercially viable’, which has concerning implications for YouTubers who are in minority groups like the LGBT+ community. It also includes a clause stating creators can be fined for content targeted towards or possibly attractive to children, as YouTube was fined a whopping $170 million for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) earlier in the year.

In response to this overreaching and sweeping decision on creative content, some channels are asking their fellow creators and viewers not to watch or upload videos from 10th – 13th December across the world and 13th-16th December in the UK after polling day on Thursday 12th (as such, it doesn’t include content relating to the UK General Election) – in what has been called a YouTube Walkout.

Some left-wing YouTubers, know colloquially as LeftTube, have stressed the importance of showing solidarity by taking part in the walkout as their niche genre, as well as independent media more generally, could be harmed by the changes. Channel Softboy Social Club has said that despite the fact his absence in content and interactions will harm ad revenue and ‘algorithmic ratings’, it is “what’s necessary to bring about change, and this is a very small first step”. Such YouTubers will be active on other platforms like Twitch and Twitter. A grwoing number of YouTubers rely on ad revenue, Patreon payments and other forms of monetisation as their primary source of income. There have been allegations that the Google-owned platform has been strong-armed by adervtisers.

YouTube Channels including Softboy Social Club and Paul Morrin explain the #YoutubeWalkout is not going to fix the problem, but it is important to demonstrate support and that it marks the start of wider and larger actions to demand the rights of creators and viewers.

The Google-owned platform has come under fire for its treatment and removal of content by LGBT+ YouTubers, who are concerned they in particular are at risk. LGBT+ creators, amongst others, have suffered suppression of their content of other platforms like TikTok.

This comes after several Google employees and activists have been sacked for, according to co-workers, speaking out against the company. As such, the conglomerate is to be investigated to determine whether American labor laws have been violated since union busting is against workers’ rights. Earlier this year, angry and frustrated LGBT+ employees at Google have claimed it has been unsafe for them to speak out against YouTube’s recent diversity and doxxing controversies, with with internal discussions being leaked to far-right websites.

There is a Petition to support the #YoutubeWalkout.

Featured Image Copyright dandy via SketchPort [CC-BY]

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