YouTube has been battling swearing hard lately, in its ongoing quest to give itself the same general vibe as dinner at your grandparents’ house, and hardly anyone is happy about that. Rules from November (opens in new tab) (through Kotaku (opens in new tab)) demonetize videos that use profanity in their title, thumbnail, first seven seconds, or “consistently throughout the video,” whatever that means. It affects streamers playing adult games and, incomprehensibly, even uploaded videos before the rules were announced.
To make things even more difficult for content creators on the platform, YouTube has now decided to treat all curse words as essentially equivalent. Whether you’re howling the F-word or muttering a humble “ass,” YouTube promises to come your way no matter what. On the plus side, “hell” and “damn it” are no longer considered profanity under YouTube’s arcane laws.
Understandably, more than a few YouTubers are taking a stand against this sudden and poorly communicated threat to their livelihoods. A video on the subject from creator Daniel Condren (opens in new tab) on his RTGame channel details a story where some old videos were abruptly demonetized by YouTube. When his appeal was rejected, YouTube support only told him: “
As you know, all content available on the platform must adhere to these guidelines, regardless of when they were uploaded or when the policy was implemented.
That Condren – who has nearly 3 million subscribers – had to fall down a rabbit hole of calls and demonetizations before getting a direct response from a YouTube rep is baffling. Apparently YouTube’s communication around the new rules hasn’t exactly been great, and Condren is far from alone with complaints. On his ProZD channel, voice actor and YouTuber SungWon Cho conducted a kind of casual experiment. In a video provocatively titled “YouTube is run by fools (opens in new tab),” Cho explained the new guidelines while avoiding swearing for the first 15 seconds of his video, before later swearing four times.
Despite the fact that Cho’s profanity came after the first 15 seconds of his video and made up a small percentage of the total script, he says the video demonetized after two days (opens in new tab). Just like when one The MegaMan documentary became bizarrely limited (opens in new tab) for violating YouTube’s “sex and nudity” policy, it’s hard not to feel like the platform’s left hand doesn’t know what its right hand is doing, leaving enforcement to the whims of individual moderators and making it a nightmare becomes for creators to figure out what they can and can’t do.