Youtube is a video-sharing website which dates back to 2005 when it was first introduced but an important part of its history is when Google bought Youtube for $1.65 billion. (Jenkins, 2009) What makes this website so revolutionary is the level of participation it offers to the whole world. Not only is anyone able to watch as many videos as they desire to but they can also make their own unique content and share it with everyone. Moreover, if one’s content is good enough to get a lot of views, they can even earn a living out of it. ‘If Youtube seems to have sprung up overnight, it is because so many groups were ready for something like Youtube’ (Jenkins, 2009, p.77) Even before the emergence of the website, there were so many people interested in the DIY and music culture, for instance. Youtube is an amazing opportunity for all those creative people to freely express themselves online. Nowadays, there are many video genres on Youtube most popular of which seem to be Vlogs and Fictional short movies and sketches followed by music videos, Youtube moments videos, DIYs, Political videos etc. (Simonsen, 2011)
Anyone can start their own business on Youtube as it does not require a university degree. Getting to meet a lot of people and go to many exciting places and events is definitely a perk of being a Youtuber. Also, anyone can start a Youtube channel with no money just by using the resources they already have. For instance, you do not need expensive and modern camera equipment to film a video, you can just use your phone or laptop camera. So instead of stressing out you do not have money for a tripod or lighting, you can simply stack books or shoe boxes instead of a tripod and film right in front of a window for natural light. (UWIRE, 2014) Once you start earning some living and are sure Youtube is your thing, it might be beneficial to invest in some modern fancy equipment. However, although Youtube is available to everyone and everyone can upload their own content providing they have an account, one cannot claim that all Youtubers are equal. In fact, if you have recently started a channel and you work as hard or harder than a very successful youtuber, you still will not get paid quite as much as someone famous on youtube because: ‘as is true in high school, popularity gauges something’ (Juhasz, 2009) The truth is numbers are important on Youtube, the more views one gets, the more they get paid regardless of how much time and effort they have put into filming and production of the video. Not to mention filming and editing is so extremely time-consuming a lot of Youtubers tend to feel lonely and isolated. (Chanel Ambrose, 2016) Also, Youtube is about constantly coming up with unique ideas for videos which can get quite hard and challenging at times even for creative people. When outlining potential disadvantages of this kind of work, one cannot forget to talk about money. Although there are many people out there who do Youtube just as a hobby and do not financially rely on it, there are Youtubers for whom Youtube is a full-time job which might be quite tricky because as freelancers they never know how much you will earn each month (Maria, 2017). And last but not least, exposing oneself on the Internet is very scary and even though there are many brave people out there who do it, receiving hate or negative comments can really bring them down.
A current issue that has been causing discontent among Youtubers is demonetization which means that advertising of certain videos is turned off and Youtube no longer promotes these videos. This means that any inappropriate content which, for example, consists of disrespectful comments or dark humor that other people might not understand and take for an offense is no longer ‘advertiser friendly’ which also means the Youtuber is not going to get paid much because the ad revenue will drop. However, Youtube is doing nothing wrong but to follow their terms of service.
Your content complies with YouTube Partner Program policies, YouTube’s Terms of Service, and Community Guidelines. YouTube reserves the right to disable monetization for accounts that do not follow our guidelines. (Youtube, 2017)
Some Youtubers like Philip DeFranco argue that taking away monetization is a form of censorship because creators who are not that successful are basically crippled as they cannot survive without monetized videos and therefore will not be able to make them. (CIOL, 2016) Meanwhile a lot of ad companies have started removing their ads from YouTube because they are afraid their ad might show up alongside inappropriate content. (Watson, 2017) Thus, ‘YouTube’s policy lists a lot of things as not ad friendly including: sexual humor, inappropriate language (i.e., profanity and vulgar language), promotion of drugs and regulated substances and controversial or sensitive subjects and events’. (UWIRE, 2016) One cannot proceed without regarding the question: ‘who benefits from all that?’ Is it YouTube which in fact loses money from not promoting certain videos as this results into the videos not getting as many views as they would normally do? Or is it the ad companies which do not get any profit from not allowing their ads to pop up alongside videos? It certainly is not Youtubers who create their own unique content and their videos get demonetized because they did a bit of swearing or something YouTube would regard as inappropriate. And it certainly is not the audience who requests a certain video or waits for it for a long time and then when it has actually been uploaded it does not appear in their subscriptions because of the excessively strong language it contains, for instance.
Youtube is making people’s dreams come true, the website is innovative and revolutionary in the sense that it allows creative people to earn a living by expressing themselves but it also causes problems such as the issue of demonetization as well as not providing a monthly fixed income and hides challenges like having to deal with hate and being able to always come up with ideas for videos.