PewDiePie is the largest YouTube user on the site with over 50 million subscribers. He typically streams video games, but he has lately diversified to performing comedy bits. In January, pewDiePie was reviewing the website Fiver, a site in which users offer $5 for people on screen to do anything asked, when he asked the two people onscreen to hold up a sign saying “Kill all Jews.” The two complied. PewDiePie apologized in the same video, claiming he did not think the two would do it.
Nevertheless, PewDiePie attracted the attention of The Washington Post. The paper went through six months worth of PewDiePie's videos to find any objectionable content. If you have never been around young gamers, but they tend to cuss, insult, and use sexually suggestive language while playing. You would be hard pressed to find a streamer who does not. But other streamer do not have 50 million+ subscribers, so PewDiePie put a bull's eye on his back. Because of the negative press, Disney ended its business partnership with PewDiePie. The disillusion of the partnership will cost PewDiePie millions.
It is no coincidence companies have begun expressing concern over not only their advertisements appearing on potentially offensive videos, but ad revenue being split with the content creators. YouTube's response was to establish new guidelines for monetizing videos. The new rules forbid profanity, sexually suggestive content, violence, and any sort of prejudice among other restrictions. On the surface, this may sound fine, but note two things. One, users are finding videos discussing political or religious topics being demonetized and two, corporate sites are exempt. So a vlogger who makes a video about a Christian bakery that refuses to make cake for a gay wedding is now demonetized, but everything from CNN and FOX News is okay, as well as official music videos from artists with parental advisory labels in stores.
The end result is to push out individual content makers in favor of deep pocketed companies. This is not too much of a surprise. YouTube, which now offers movies for a price and original television content for a subscription fee, has been moving away from a base of community of small time vloggers to just another television networks. Many of the non-corporate, large subscriber YouTube channels are basically using a television format.
I assume it goes without saying my YouTube tastes lean toward the controversial political and religious content than funny cat videos. (I am a fan of felines, though.) It has been interring in recent days watching the content creators I frequent scrambling for solutions to their revenue streams now being reduced as much as allegedly 70%. Most are choosing various forms of e-begging. I am not terribly concerned with where their money is going to come from in the future, but I am curious whether there is much validity to the claims there is a conspiracy to push out controversial content creators or if there is a legitimate claim companies should fear associating their brands with these creators.
As a free speech advocate, I would like to be sympathetic to the former claim. Who would not be suspicious of corporate big dogs squeezing out the subversive? But after watching many of these creators, sometimes for years, I am leaning towards the latter. Why would corporate advertiser want to associate some of these ding-a-lings? There is also the question of why, if their opinions are so darn important, why are they requiring payment for them? Opinions are quit worthless. I also have a tough time overlooking the fact the creators are angry they cannot take corporate money which most probably think is a corrupting element in public discourse in the first place?