Blog / 2022 / Why I’m Quitting YouTube
August 16, 2022
YouTube is a bully. I first figured this out in 2015 when the site slapped an ad on my TEDx talk video after the TED company made a spurious copyright claim on that video. I managed to get that decision overturned with some trouble, but that copyright kerfuffle had lasting effects. My videos were no longer being promoted or watched like they used to be, and I can only think that’s because I made a vlog lambasting YouTube’s handling of the situation.
In the intervening years, I kept my YouTube profile because I knew it was where some people preferred engaging with my work, either because they like the site or because they needed the closed captioning that YouTube provides. Eventually, I started putting transcripts directly on my blog so that those with hearing issues could still enjoy what I was making without exposing themselves to the crappiness of YouTube.
And now, upon discovering that YouTube thinks it’s okay to put ads on my stuff without my permission, I’m ready to cut ties completely. My YouTube channel will be gone before October.
If you want to learn more about how I make my living as an artist who doesn’t use corporate social media, check out this page of resources. And if you’re looking for a social media site that’s anti-algorithm and ad-free, check out Mastodon.
For over a decade, I’ve helped make YouTube an interesting place to be, contributing thoughtful videos on an almost weekly basis, and doing it bilingually! Still, I’ve never met the criteria for monetizing my videos, and, until recently, that suited me just fine. I despise ads with a fiery passion, so it’s not like I’d ever choose to put any on my videos.
But now, YouTube is doing it for me. They’re forcing people who want to watch my most popular videos to sit through at least part of an ad, and they’re not even sharing any of the money they make from that advertising with me.
It’s a blatant exploitation of my hard work, and it’s forced me to face something that I’ve known for some time:
I’m not YouTube’s customer.
And neither are you, dear viewer.
YouTube putting ads on my videos hurts both of us, but they don’t care because the advertisers are their customers. Of everybody involved in the YouTube universe, only the advertisers are paying YouTube directly in money, so they’re the only ones who matter.
And I should be clear: this has always been the case. It’s just that YouTube used to hide it a little better. In fact, this is the case everywhere on social media. On TikTok, on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, all of the everywhere! We—our creativity and our consideration, our wallets—are the natural resource that those companies are selling to advertisers.
And I’m here to say that that natural resource is not infinitely renewable. I’m done being exploited in this way by YouTube and lots of the other platforms as well. I’m gonna be deleting this channel very soon.
But I’ll still be posting on my site like I always have been. So if you go to gwennseemel.com/contact, you can find out info about my mailing lists or about how to email me personally, which I love. So, I hope to see you in my inbox!
This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!
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