YouTube decided to ease restrictions on the use of profanity in videos after an update introduced in November caused backlash from some creators. The company will also review videos whose monetization was affected by this policy. In a video on the Creator Insider channel, the company says it analyzed data on how the new rules were applied and found that they “resulted in a stricter approach than we intended.” The update means that creators will still be able to make some money from videos, even if there’s mild profanity, although the restrictions remain confusing and don’t fully revert to the old rules.
We remind that the company changed its advertiser-friendly content rules late last year, saying that if a video contains profanity within the first 15 seconds, it can be demonetized — meaning the platform won’t will show advertising on it, which significantly limits the author’s ability to receive income. The author could also be fined if they used a lot of profanity throughout the video (how much was not clear). Videos made according to the old rules, which clearly allowed swearing, suddenly stopped being attractive to advertisers.
New rules do not cancel these changes completely, but the company makes some adjustments, which it promised to do in January. For example, the new update means that creators will still be eligible for some advertising if they use “stronger profanity” within the first seven seconds of a video, whereas previously advertising would have been disabled entirely. The company also says that video content using profanity, moderate or strong, after the first seven seconds will now be eligible for monetization, unless used repetitively throughout the majority of the video.” Again, the latest update made it so that these videos will not be monetized.
There is certainly still some ambiguity here. The authors note that it’s not clear what YouTube means when it says they can’t use profanity in “majority of the video.” However, it may help that YouTube no longer treats all profanity the same. The November update practically leveled the hierarchy: calling someone an “ass” was just as bad as calling someone a “motherfucker.” Now such words are considered “moderate” profanity.
The company also clarifies that swearing in background music, soundtracks, intro or outro music will not result in demonetization.
The changes went into effect on March 7th, and until March 10th, YouTube will review videos that received limited ads due to the November update. Videos that have been fully demonetized will also be reviewed, according to Michael Aciman, a Google spokesperson.
In their video on Creator Insider, YouTube explains, why did it retroactively apply the November changes, changing the monetization status of videos that were fine under the previous rules. The essence of the change is that the content continues to receive new ads – if you click on a video from the author’s backlog, you will still be shown ads from current campaigns.
YouTube also responded to complaints from some creators that the company did not adequately communicate the changes in November. Now it says it will be announcing changes to Creator Studio, where YouTubers upload and edit videos, as well as view analytics and other data.