YouTube suspensions


Google regularly removes channels from YouTube because of what they believe are violations of community guidelines. In the process, accounts are suspended. Unfortunately, this also happens from time to time to unsuspecting YouTubers who are not aware of any violations. None of this would be a problem if Google were to announce what the problem was and then give the YouTuber the opportunity to correct any errors. The reality is different. YouTubers are shut down without prior warning, without proper explanation. Their channel is simply removed and there is no way to complain about this to Google. The result of this arbitrary discrimination is that a victim feels criminalised and excluded.

What it looks like

October 13, 2021:

“We have reviewed your content and found severe or repeated violations of our Community Guidelines. Because of this, we have removed your channel from YouTube.”

And:

“Spam, scams or commercially deceptive content are not allowed on YouTube.”

I have no idea what I have done wrong – I would know if I were a spammer, scammer or cheater.

I publish in good conscience to make information available to those who want to know and to learn.

However, I have inquired Google and the answer is bluntly: “We have decided to keep your account suspended”.

This does not help me any further. I am powerless against an organization that says: “You are no longer participating” and “We will not tell you why”. Not first a warning, just immediate exclusion.

So it must have been very serious – whatever it may be, at least tell an honest man what he does wrong.

How often does this occur?

That is hard to say.

Wikipedia has a page about YouTube suspensions. Unfortunately it only informs us about mayor suspensions, like suspending Donald Trump.

However, searching the net, it turns out to happen on a regular basis in situations where the person involved is absolutely not aware of any misconduct.

The irony

Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
(from https://about.google/)

On December 7 2021, I wrote a letter to Google Ireland – the legal entity in the EU. No answer so far.

Google Ireland Limited
Gordon House, Barrow Street
Dublin 4
Ierland

Dear Reader

With molasses you catch flies (Dutchism), I know. However, I feel violated because my Youtube channel has been suspended without giving any reason. No one from Google wants to say why, after frequently filling out various online forms.

The point is that I am completely unaware of any misconduct. As a result, I feel criminalized by Google. I assume that there is an inaccuracy involved.

Therefore, I turn to a non-automated system with real people. I have the following questions:

I would like to know the reason why the channel was suspended.

I request that you restore access to the channel.

I would like to know why a warning is not given first when something seems not right.

Hoping to hear from you soon, with kind regards,

Wiebe van der Worp

It is ironic that Google founder Sergey Brin is Russian. He must know what it is like to be treated like that. When he left Russia as a child, I was in Russia (1978) to experience at first hand the totalitarian pile of shit and censorship. That makes you an involved world citizen and is a motivation to write this for example: Украинцы тоже любят своих детей. But Google is silencing me and that is extremely sad. What happened to the slogan “Don’t be evil”? If you don’t like that one, than I would like to suggest to Google: “Do the right thing”. After all, what is written here harms Google too and it is so easy to prevent.

YouTube Community Help

I have submitted a message to YouTube Community Help. Perhaps interesting to read, volunteers play an important role in retrieval. It was that post that got me my channel back. These volunteers are able to oil the process at YouTube.com, highly appreciated!

European Commission complaint

I have submitted a complaint about this to the European Commission (2022-02-07). The answer:

Dear Mr Wiebe van der Worp,
Thank you for contacting the Europe Direct Contact Centre and for sharing your views.
The Commission proposed a set of comprehensive rules in December 2020 addressing the issues regarding content moderation and freedom of speech.
The Digital Services Act will require companies such as YouTube to provide clear information upon deletion of content or suspension of accounts, as well as an effective complaints and redress mechanism, internal to the platform, and an out-of-court dispute resolution mechanism.
More generally, the new Regulation, once adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, will regulate the responsibilities of online platforms with regard to illegal content, goods or services offered by their users and the core societal risks such services pose.
For further information, please visit the following website: digital-strategy.ec.europa.eu/en/policies/digital-services-act-package
We hope you find this information useful. Please contact us again if you have other questions about the European Union, its activities or institutions.

The bold text means to Google that they have to get to work if the act is approved. After all, it means that Google will no longer get away with this objectionable behaviour. Slowly we’ll get there.

The end

Apparently the thread here, with the help of the volunteers, was enough to restore the content.

The channel contained only one video on how to finish an end of a steel cable with a TIG torch. Totally inoffensive, even for children.

So it will remain a mystery why the channel was ever suspended. You could say it’s a happy ending, but it’s not. The point of this thread was not to get the canal back but to illustrate that it is all a bit of a strange way of (not) dealing with complaints.

It’s a shame that legislation will soon be needed to protect people from these practices, and it’s a shame that YouTube just doesn’t do a better job of handling it themselves.

The positive side of the story is that it is apparently possible sometimes to get a channel back – although that will probably take a lot of effort.

Tip: Always backup your videos and keep track of what you posted.

To be continued… or not.


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