Help Us Push Back Against YouTube's Unfair Business Tactics

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Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University and has served as a professor at a number of seminaries. He is the author of 25 books and hosts the nationally syndicated, daily talk radio show, the Line of Fire.

Would you like to come behind the scenes with me for a moment to see what it looks like when YouTube suddenly demonetizes hundreds of your videos?

Before you say, "YouTube is a private company and can do whatever it wants to do," let me remind you of this. YouTube provides users with community guidelines, explaining which videos are acceptable for advertisers and which are not. When YouTube acts inconsistently and unfairly, in violation of its own guidelines, we have a right to protest.
(At the end of this article I'll let you know how you can help us push back.)

Let me give you some examples.

No sooner did we discover that YouTube had suddenly demonetized (not removed) the vast majority of our 900+ videos, but we immediately spotted this: The moment a video was posted, on our channel, even privately, for our team's personal review, it was marked "Not suitable for all advertisers."

That's right. The very moment it was posted, it was flagged.

This had nothing to do with content, since it had not yet been reviewed by YouTube. It was simply because the video was posted on the AskDrBrown channel. We were judged guilty before the trial began and before a single piece of evidence was presented.

Is this ethical or fair?

Many of the videos were completely benign, including a number of two-minute, Hebrew word studies. (Oh, how divisive and intolerant and bigoted of us!) And the temporary titles we used for these videos, which again, weren't even released to the public, simply transcribed the Hebrew word being discussed.

Will YouTube kindly tell me how a Hebrew teaching video entitled "Gee-bor" is "Not suitable for all advertisers"? Or will YouTube kindly explain to me what is unsuitable about a video entitled, "Will There Be a Third Temple?" or about another one called, "Rebuilding the Altar"? (Two of these were not released to the public; they were flagged the moment they were posted.) And what guidelines did we violate with this beautiful story of Jesus healing a severely burned Muslim woman?

Then there is the utter lack of consistency on YouTube's part.

For example, we posted two identical videos to our channel, one private and one public, with almost the identical title and content. (One added video enhancements; that was it.) The private video was marked, "Not suitable for all advertisers"; the public video was approved for all advertisers. But these were the same two videos!

One video was approved for monetization (to our surprise), featuring my interview with Laura Loomer, where she criticized the ADL. Yet the video of my interview with one of her employers, Ezra Levant, confronting media censorship but focusing on the needs of suffering Christians in the Middle East, was deemed not suitable after review.

Is there even an attempt at evenhandedness here? Can one even know what is acceptable and what is not?

As an experiment (and, as an actual attempt to call on YouTube to act ethically), we began to request a manual review for some of the flagged videos.

After review, "A Christian Response to Google's Intolerance" was confirmed to be not suitable for all advertisers. Yet the video challenges Christian viewers to examine their own hearts and see if they are as intolerant as Google is.
What is unsuitable about that? Which group is it maligning or marginalizing?

After review, the trailer to my new book, Saving a Sick America, was also confirmed to be not suitable all advertisers. A book trailer!

Also after review, the wonderful, redemptive story of a former KKK leader who now serves as an associate pastor of an African American church, was confirmed as not suitable for all advertisers. Based on what criteria? Based on what guidelines? Isn't this a story that should be shouted from the rooftops?

And what recourse do you have once YouTube confirms the demonetization of your video after review? None. Nada. Zilch. Whatever they say goes, at least as far as I can tell right now. And, based on our analysis to date, their decisions are quite arbitrary.

Why else demonetize videos confronting Christian pastors who want the death penalty for homosexuals? Wouldn't advertisers want to applaud our stands? Why else demonetize videos containing friendly public debates on theological issues? Which guidelines did these violate?

Where YouTube is consistent is in punishing video creators for challenging the left. Dare to take on Planned Parenthood, and your video will be demonetized. State that Bruce Jenner is not a woman, or take issue with a man who believes he's a female, mythical dragon, or point out how redefining marriage leads to a slippery slope, or expose media bias against Israel, and you will pay the price.

In the last few days, we noticed that some new videos placed on our site for our private viewing were not immediately flagged, adding to the confusion, as there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what YouTube is doing. And some videos for which we requested review are deemed suitable for all advertisers while others are not. Is this simply a question of which YouTube employee happens to view them?

Again, all we're asking for is fairness, consistency, and ethical business conduct.

YouTube, is this too much to request? And is it wrong to hope that YouTube and its advertisers will prize our essential freedoms over an atmosphere of arbitrary censorship and repression? Are we living in the United States of America or in a radical, liberal version of North Korea? (Yes, that's an exaggeration, but you get the point.) Which way are we heading?

Since I first posted the story of YouTube's demonetizing of our videos, causing a drop in our YouTube income of more than 70 percent (which is something we feel as a modest, not for profit ministry), many have asked what they can do to help. To stand with us, click here, and thanks so much for your solidarity and support.

Together, we can get the message out, with or without YouTube's help.

Dr. Michael Brown (www.askdrbrown.org) is the host of the nationally syndicated Line of Fire radio program. His latest book is Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation. Connect with him on Facebook or Twitter.