Dearest readers, social media is a digital layer of the real world we can rarely avoid completely. You may not be on Facebook (or barely use it these days), Instagram may not be your thing, but then Twitter and YouTube may get you. YouTube gets everyone's attention after all. Now, we hear about ad related controversies such as privacy violation scandals done by Facebook, but most of us don't really hear about the people who have been mentioned in Joe Rogan's interview with Jack Dorsey- people who are in the political commentary sphere. I went and looked up some of them- those who were either kicked off, demonetized or otherwise wronged by one of these giant platforms. Boy oh boy, do they raise a lot of fuss- especially about how platforms like YouTube and Twitter are evil or garbage or what have you, and how their decisions have affected these peoples' audience reach and even livelihood. What I'd like to talk about, however, is what, if anything, these acts of censorship mean to the rest of us not directly involved in politics and political commentary, with end goal being my attempt to get you to think if this is a major issue for the most of us, really, and why or why not.
So, there are apparently major voices like Dave Rubin and Tim Poole, and a large number of other news and political commentary people who are at odds with platforms like YouTube and Twitter, most notably due to demonetization. So they have their channels and online brands, they upload videos, YouTube's algorithms or staff or both sometimes (or often) find the content not advertiser friendly, and it gets demonetized. Since demonetization began (following the first Adpocalype), there have been serious talks about what the role of these platforms is in our society, in politics, in news and fake news, and whether they are platforms or publishers (a huge distinction with legal and financial consequences if these platforms ever get classified as publishers). It is also precisely this
segment of content creators that have condemned the platforms as a whole because of this.
That was a very brief layout of the qualms one small segment of content creators has with the social media platforms. Now, what about the rest of us who are not in that space and who consume more content than we create?
Personally, I don't think most of us are on the same wavelength as political content creators. There are tons of businesses and private individuals sharing content with the world in order to connect with others. I get updates from brands and stores I like, I often YouTube recipes and beauty tips to get videos instead of searching for articles on Google, I listen to music and watch funny videos. So many people rush to get monetized, they game the platform algorithms, create clickbait content, and then spend tons of money and hire assistants to produce videos where, for example, they just sit in one place and talk to us or with guests on their shows. Seriously! I think many people care less and less about production value. Sure it looks good, but it can be done ok for way less. If someone has a funny clip or good advice to share or something smart and helpful to say about how to think or act better every day, they will share it because it has intrinsic value and makes them feel good! Did those people chasing monetization and complaining about demonetization completely forget that YouTube content was all about intrinsic values for those who create it, and that this was and still can be perfectly fine? Also, did they forget there are tons of businesses and individual professionals who create content to improve their brand or customer relations and couldn't care less about monetization because being on YouTube helps their real life businesses? Bottom line, YouTube Twitter and other platforms don't exist to cater solely to one of its creator and user segments.
In the end, it's plain and simple. You go on YouTube, create an account, and you become either a content consumer, a content creator, or both. YouTube costs money to run and keep getting better and more feature rich. YouTube gets that money from advertisers. Advertisers need to know their ads are most likely going to the right audience, or else they won't advertise on YouTube and it will then lose the financial fuel to keep the engine running. This is how it is, no ifs ands or buts about it.
The sad truth is that we brought this on ourselves. We supported the gradual switch from a subscription-based model for online services, to one fuelled by ads that get to us based on our own (often private) information. We can complain about it, we can condemn it, we can point fingers at the companies... But, before we do all that, let me ask you something.
If you are in fact so concerned with the social media business models such as YouTube's, have you subscribed to YouTube Premium yet? If not, it may be good to either do it which means you're supporting the good old subscription-based system, or you need to accept the good and the bad of the ad-based model- there's no third option in sight.