YouTube has come to be known as the first stop for uploading video content online, from subjects of the idiotic all the way to life changing information. Some of this information has been from Youtube publishers sharing their cannabis expertise. From growing & smoking the plant to edible making, the latest cannabis discoveries & research, cannabis news, and many other related topics. Many of these publishers have built an audience of loyal subscribers who’ve come to rely on them for their insight. Until recently that information was being streamed for the benefit of viewers. Now, much of that information flow has been banned by YouTube.
Why would cannabis content now come under question when YouTube had previously been allowing it to be shared? Many YouTube publishers are (were) thinking the same thing. Some of the popular channel creators feel that YouTube can’t make ad revenue from cannabis content so therefore the ban was executed. Others argue that YouTube made the same move regarding the sale of firearms and gun modification-style videos. YouTube did issue a statement that was featured in the New York Times telling content creators that they would be making community guideline updates regarding firearm videos, but no statement had been issued to cannabis content creators on how to properly move forward to stay in compliance with the new terms of service.
Some of these cannabis channels had thousands of followers, hundreds of videos and lots of blood, sweat and tears put into their content production. For all of this to be erased with little to no warning at all from YouTube seems irrational and unprofessional from a business platform standpoint. The trend has been occurring for almost two months and is very confusing to many cannabis advocates because cannabis has been rapidly growing in public acceptance as legalization continues to spread across the U.S.
Dylan Osborn is the creator of Greenbox Grown, which is a channel about growing medical cannabis boasting 13,000 followers. Dylan stated that he had been flagged many times before but that this time was different for himself and other cannabis channel creators. He has now resorted to self-hosting his videos and charges subscribers a monthly fee. Cannabis content creators are upset because there are lots of other videos that are currently violating YouTubes community guidelines that aren’t cannabis related, i.e. tutorials on making bombs out of household items. Yet those channels have not been removed for violating TOS.
YouTube has been suspending cannabis related accounts for breaking community guidelines but they have not given content creators any specific reasons. If anything, some accounts have received a general hint that it may be due to possibly promoting violence, illegal drug use or creating spam content. YouTube has just been shutting down accounts without giving cannabis content creators any warning. If the content creator tries to appeal to YouTube they only get 500 characters to explain the appeal. Many of the responses are getting bounced back to content creators seemingly by bots.
Last year YouTube went through what some have termed “The Adpocalypse,” when many advertisers were seeing their ads being played on content that may have been inappropriate or harmful to their brand. When advertisers complained and money for advertising was being pulled, YouTube changed its algorithm to prevent unsuitable content from being advertised unfittingly. Things have not been right since. YouTube seems to not have found a way to make money on cannabis related content, yet which may very well be reason for the censorship. No comments or statements from Youtube have been made about the matter thus far.
By Tracy Jerome Chisley (@PoeticPanther)
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