YouTube Suspending And Terminating Accounts – A Few Thoughts

Update: More (recent) on the story here.

This weekend, Problogger got a lot of attention for having his YouTube Account suspended “with no warning and no explanation of why.” The story has a happy ending as his site came back up about 12 hours after he posted the above linked article but … scary none the less.

Read into the article and you’ll find the issue was probably a video with the title of “Secrets of Making Money Online.”

David Jenyns had a similar problem happen this weekend as he reports at his blog.

His second strike was “How To Make Money Online – 80/20 Rule.”

Seeing a trend here?

YouTube has two specific pages about content you can’t/can’t put online in her “Terms of Service” and “Community Guidelines.” I read nothing in these pages that says you can’t put (your own) commercial content online at YouTube – please let me know if you have seen anything else by YouTube regarding this topic.

Again, if you can find anything published from YouTube in what you can and can’t do commercially (I keep hearing of documents, I just can’t find them), please let me know.

So, what do we do with this news?

Some will point to the dirty Internet marketers who are only interested in making money online and say something along the lines of they get what they deserve. I’m not in that camp. I’ll question until the cows come home how effective some of these videos are but … Problogger is a key figure in this space (and a nice guy) and when he does a video on a topic fascinating to me, I’m interested. And it’s hardly a “no no” topic in either the community or terms of service guidelines.

Some will say YouTube is just a platform and they need to be 100% hands off. This is a topic that deserves a book (let along a post) of her own but let’s face it, they have to, at the very least, respond to DMCA takedown requests.

YouTube is becoming more and more important. Their desire is to be a partner with the big content producers (they don’t just call it the “Partner Program” for branding purposes) and make cool things happen. I’d recommend playing their game.

It’s more than a “free” video hosting platform. Community interaction is more than getting someone to make a background for your channel page. If you’re gonna play with YouTube, do more than just sign up for an account and put a few keywords on your channel page. Consider letting them put ads on a video or two (there is lousy money in it – it’s about the relationship) and start treating her like the social network that she is. Interact with your audience at YouTube and you’ll be surprised of the benefit that will come from it. Once YouTube realizes she’s more to you than cheap hosting, you’ll be pleased at what happens.

I’ve been involved with dozens (and then some) of YouTube accounts and have only seen one shut down. She directly went against something in the terms and didn’t have this history to appear as anything else other than someone trying to abuse the system. I won’t say she ‘got what she deserved’ but I can totally understand YouTube’s take on that one.

Your thoughts?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Anonymous

    The wild west phase of online marketing is drawing to a close, this is just another step along the way. I see where YouTube’s coming from here. There is great training on the “make money online” subject – but a vast majority of it is outdated, and even more is BS. That being said, if these types of subject are not mentioned in their ToS then why is YT doing it? And usually YT has been pretty transparent and clear with their direction.
    Is the next step of this removing sales videos from YouTube?
    It’ll be curious to see if this pattern continues.

  • http://BasicBlogTips.com Ileane

    Paul, I notice that I’m getting tons of requests on YouTube for friendships and people I don’t even know sending videos to my inbox. It’s pretty annoying because I’m assuming there’s some automated software out there that’s doing this on a grand scale. Is it possible that Darren (or someone who works for him) is using one of these tools? Just a thought…
    Thanks for the heads up!

  • Anonymous

    As am I. I think YT is merely responding to complaints in these instances. Lots of complainers in the industry. I think working to build a relationship and history with these guys is going to help in those types of situations.

    Don’t know for sure on any of this though – hoping to dig up some good stuff as a result of this post.

  • Anonymous

    Those tools aren’t always bad. I use them, but I use them (within the rules of YouTube) to target people who I know are interested in my topic. I don’t think they were booted for those – I think the titles in the video set off something.

  • http://www.johnschoeman.com John Schoeman

    YouTube Terminating-
    Make Money Online Accounts. As you probably heard this weekend, YouTube
    terminated thousands of Make Money Online Accounts. Here
    is my take on this: As Internet Marketers we need Youtube for the
    traffic it generates to our sites, and to those of our clients. Youtube
    has become an indispensible part in all traffic generation strategies.
    The other Video sharing sites don’t even rank close to Youtube when it
    comes to page views and potential traffic funneling to our web
    properties. I don’t think we, as Internet Marketers should
    take YouTube’s DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACK (Yes, I call it a denial of
    service) on our channels lightly. We, “The Make Money On
    The Internet” crowd play a huge part in the training, coaching and
    education of people who ultimately become key customers for the top 10
    Companies on the Internet.We “The Make Money On The Internet” crowd
    teach people how to make money on eBay. We teach people how to make
    money on Google. We teach people how to make money on Facebook. We teach
    people how to make money on Youtube. And Yes, We teach people how to
    make money on the Internet. We are directly responsible
    for the billions of capital that goes to the top Internet and Tech
    companies on the NYSE and the NasDaq. Yes, I am freakin mad! It is
    people like you me and the millions of other entrepreneurs who got
    Youtube, Google, Facebook, EBay, Yahoo, Amazon where they are today. We,
    the small time entrepreneurs are responsible for the Billions of
    dollars that they make. We are the driving force behind there rising
    stocks. We! We! We! Not corporate America! I am totally Freakin Pissed.
    Time for a Freakin Class Action Lawsuit.
     

  • http://EmployeeTestingCenter.com Stan Dubin

    Darren getting booted is a shock as he provides a true exchange in abundance when it comes to value and content. But you’re probably right—it was in the video title.

    A couple of years ago when I was looking at putting videos up on YouTube I recalled there was something in their Terms of Service about putting up videos for commercial purposes…and here we are in 2011 and there’s probably several hundred thousand videos up there with a clear commercial intent. 

    Hmm. 

    Good to hear Darren got things sorted out.

  • David Jenyns

    Hi Paul,

    Great to see you’re joining the conversation. Now I know I’m biased but I’ve always considered myself a YouTube advocate… I only publish solid content, I am quite conscious of the community guidelines and I’m really only looking to be a valued member of the community.

    I think what’s come as the biggest shock to me is that there really are very little avenues that the smaller guys (without 200,000 twitter followers) to head down should they feel YouTube has made an error.

    And yes, YouTube makes mistakes (they admitted as such with Darren), but what hope does the little guy have of being heard? I’m still fighting my own battles and it’s great to see all the support that I’ve had so far but the question remains… will that be enough?

    What would you do if I was in this situation?

    Just my 2 cents.
    Dave Jenyns

    Ps. Would love to get you on http://www.podcastinterviews.com to talk about the topic if you’re keen.

  • http://BasicBlogTips.com Ileane

    Paul, I’d love to hear more about the specific tools you’re using. Have you done a post or video about them? I find it very cumbersome keeping up with all the TOS agreements from different networks. A lot of times we assume that the services we’re using aren’t in violation but later on find out that they are. There’s a big hole in the YouTube TOS if they allow people I don’t know to send me videos. I mean what is the real point of “friending” people on YT if any stranger can send you a video – and what we really want is subscribers anyway right?

  • http://BasicBlogTips.com Ileane

    I remember that Bill Jelen aka “Mr. Excel” was banned at one point last. At the time he had over 600 Excel tutorials uploaded. It took about 3 weeks before his account was restored but he never got warning or any official statement from YT back then either. Perhaps YT has a threshold set for a specific number of complaints and once you reach that number your account is banned automatically without any human intervention.  

  • Anonymous

    Johm haven’t read of the “thousands” of account being shut down anywhere. Have any documentation on that? I’d love to keep following this story for some answers.

  • Anonymous

    Can you find anything in their terms? I can’t. Maybe I’m just not looking in the right place.

  • Anonymous

    First of all would love to do the show – could be fun. There’s contact info here at the blog.

    Let’s chat about my theories on “what to do” when we do that, cool?

    P

  • Anonymous

    Do you have any documentation on that?

  • Anonymous

    Not post or video – it’s all part of YouTube Secret Weapon actually. The tool is Tube Toolbox. In terms of subscribers – friends are just as good for marketing, etc. In terms of sending random people videos yeah, that’s pretty useless.

    All tools can be used for “good and evil” obviously. Still has to be a soul at the other end.

    P

  • http://DCincome.com/blog Matthew Loop

    I’ve had YouTube channels deleted over the years. One was deserved but the others had great content that was very value driven. They were the how-to types of videos.All of the history, views, ratings, VSEO for top
    keywords all gone in one fellow swoop. Like nothing ever existing. Hard work… gone!  Interesting how they seem to be targeting “make money” types of content as opposed to a lot of the hate-centered, violent or racist content you can find there. That stuff makes it to YouTube’s home page regularly with no problem.
    It does suck for the
    little guy that has had the same thing happen. I thought of getting an
    attorney to send them a letter. Google and YouTube’s customer service is
    non-existent.

  • http://BasicBlogTips.com Ileane

    Hey Paul, here’s what MrExcel posted on his blog when he got banned http://www.mrexcel.com/weblog/2009/12/jilted-by-youtube-without-explanation.shtml just google “mr excel banned from youtube” for the rest of the story. 

  • http://twitter.com/JoshRimer Josh Rimer

    It used to be a rule across the board that commercial content wasn’t allowed, but YouTube later removed that restriction for Partners and simply required them to check off a box whenever a video contained some type product placement (mainly to avoid competing advertisers in the same market).  Because non-Partners don’t have that check box when uploading, I’m not certain they’re able to do the same – and Problogger is not a Partner.

    Also, a YouTube engineer told me last month that they are really going to be cracking down on anyone who uses software to “help” their account.  If you use something to get you more views, subscribers, etc you could be in for suspension or termination – and he said that as they find ways to track everyone doing it, they’ll be able to backtrack as well so his biggest advice was to avoid the use of any type of program or system that automates or even remotely violates any term or condition they have.

  • Elgin Subwaysurfer Bolling

    I’m with you here, Jacob. I have always thought that somewhere down the line Y T was going to find a reason to shut down people for what ever reason. The frustrating thing is that it sometimes seems so arbitrary. But when you don’t OWN something, you ultimately put your hands in the people who do. Gee… YT seems so warm and fuzzy up until now. This is definitely a wake up call for video marketers to start uploading their vids to other video sharing sites, if they haven’t done so already.

  • Anonymous

    As I understand it, once you’re “banned” you are “banned” from creating new channels as well, right?

  • Anonymous

    Awesome. Thanks so much for the link. We’re learning a lot here.

  • Anonymous

    Josh, thanks for the comments.

    I’ve heard the same about commercial content wasn’t allowed but I can’t find online reference to it. And since it’s not there now (best I can tell), we’re “free” to do the very thing they’re shutting down people for?

    This YouTube engineer, tell me more … the Ts & Cs say you can if you follow the rules – what am I missing here?

    Looking forward to your response.

  • Cch130

    I got shut down this weekend on a channel that’s about a physical product.  I’ve been on for probably five years or so and have tons of friends, 61  subscribers, I have videos with high views (approaching 140,000 on one video) but I’m still not up and have no idea how to communicate with YouTube about the problem because they keep saying the email I’m using to try and get info isn’t tied to that youtube acct.  Yet it is the one I’ve always used. This really hurts my business because many of my videos show on page one of Google for many different terms.

  • Anonymous

    Is it an “eye opener” to go somewhere else or an “eye opener” to make sure you play within YouTube’s rules?

  • Anonymous

    Can you share with us the product information?

  • http://twitter.com/pambrossman Pam Brossman

    For the first time in 3 years of using YouTube I got a warning  a couple of months ago. When I asked what I had done wrong, as I am a stickler for sticking by TOS and  also teaching my clients to do the same, no reply. So it is very hard to do the right thing if noone tells you what you did wrong.

    This is all I have found on commercial rules. Look at term 4e and tell me what that means to you in terms of commercial rules. http://www.youtube.com/t/terms
    The only people who can tell us what we can and cannot do is YouTube. I think it would be good to make it black and white so that those who want to honestly abide by the rules can do so without fear of being shut down for not understanding what they did wrong.

  • Tshearer

    Ross Goldberg got all his 138 videos taken down and his account terminated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/loudalo Lou Dalo

    Not totally surprised at this news – given how aggressive Google’s been about closing Adwords accounts.  (Google just shut me down a few weeks ago on the basis of [per Google's own email to me] an ad I wrote in MARCH 2010 as part of a training program I taught.  

    The ad a) had no associated keywords; b) didn’t run except perhaps for a few hours after the training; and c) had been paused (yes, you got it: it was NOT active when Google considered it in violation). 

    It just so happened that on a whim, I went to clickbank and chose truth about abs as my sample sales page  - which was ranked as a topseller (for many years).  

    Turns out that since google changed their landing page guidelines (yet again), that page was now non-compliant and cause for termination of the account.  (Good thing that was the ONLY ad in the account, and I wasn’t relying on adwords).

    WTF?

    I actually don’t have any objection to companies setting and enforcing guideilnes to keep their community standards.  

    What flabbergasts me is the guilt-assumptive, zero-tolerance “forevermore forbidden” approach to enforcement Google, Youtube, and other social media sites are taking.

    I’m sure there are a lot of well-intended folks who inadvertenly run afoul of (ever changing) terms of service.  I’d bet that if they received an email informing them of the offending content and given a few days to remedy the situation, that almost all of them would.  

    In fact, I bet there are a good number of folks how are just beginning to use the services, and aren’t 100% familiar with terms .. and wham, before they even get started, they’re banned forever.

    I’m further willing to bet that many of the accounts being banned were responsible for driving a large percentage of the traffic that built the companies in the first place.  

    Seems a bit like, thanks for making me billions – now ‘forget you’.

    Has no one heard of “Dance with the girl what brung ya” anymore…?

  • Cch130

    Yes, I sell memory foam mattresses.  I’ve made videos to try and help people steer away from the scammy products for years and dedicated a website to that also.

    Then about 2 years ago, I started selling products and I have some of the previous videos on that website as well as a couple new ones.

    I don’t know what suddenly triggered the finger of death but wish I could find out and correct it.

    As Pam Brossman pointed out,  in 4E, I think I’m compliant.

  • David Jenyns

    Great… will follow up for sure. Also as a sidenote, looks like my story had a happy ending – YouTube reactivated my account.

    Sadly I have didn’t have any word from Google or YT so I’m not entirely sure how I got it back. My guess is that I made enough noise to be heard… perhaps the press release did the trick?

    Anyway, definitely loads of topics for discussion that will spring from this – looking forward to chatting soon.

    CheersDave

  • Anonymous

    I know. I’d love to get a list of video titles from “terminated” accounts and see if there are any similarities.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly. And, let’s face it, the reason they’re not being specific is because if they are specific, we can point to the specifics to legitimize our actions, etc.

    Yes, we can treat YouTube as this big faceless company or we can start to play their games, engage them and have a little protection at least if something we do triggers something somewhere else in the organization.

  • Anonymous

    I have – and I try to dance with the one what brung me.

    However, it looks like there are a few million people at this dance and the lights are crazy and the music is too loud and if i don’t keep holding the hand of the one what brung me, we’re gonna get separated by the mess.

    Lame analogy?

    It is a real mess.

    Is there anyway out, or is this the chaos we’re doomed to?

  • Anonymous

    Did you ever approach them to see what happened?

  • Anonymous

    Congrats on getting the account back. I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I lost mine.

    Here’s a question for you though – do you think there’s a chance this massive undertaking this weekend was just overblown and they went in and fixed a lot of accounts en masse? I just don’t see YouTube desk jockies monitoring press releases (or anything else) to see if they’ve screwed up.

    Ready for the interview when you are.

  • Zane Miller

    Honestly I don’t think we have the full picture.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zs6IzWhiuB4

  • http://www.hochstadt.com/ Marcus Hochstadt

    And what exactly do we learn here, Paul? :-)

  • Zane Miller

    Nope.  I have had a YouTube account banned and created others.  Maybe it has to do with the severity of the issue.

    I have many different channels, and am always experimenting with YouTube.  I have stayed in good graces with YouTube and Google with ALL of them but one.  One day out of the blue my account just got shut down.

    I followed through with about 7 emails and I got the same email back every time.  Something to the tune of:  Your video was considered spam…  The End.

    So I made a new one and kept going.  No problems since.

    I just hope that this controversy will open up communications with Google and YouTube more in relation to marketing.  If anything, this shows skeptics that YouTube generates good traffic.

  • Zane Miller

    I feel that this is Google and YouTube ‘shaking the tree’ in order to get marketers to be more timid and use their advertising platform to ensure they don’t get banned.

    This same thing happened back in 2008.  Darren got shut down by Stumble Upon because they thought he too was abusing the system.

    http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/08/01/problogger-is-banned-from-stumbleupon/

    Google had to have seen that before.  So either this is a HUGE mistake or there are other unseen reasons for this.

  • Zane Miller

    I use the some of the same tools.  Paul is right.  There are some tools that actually work WITH YouTube terms and conditions.

  • Zane Miller

    I don’t feel YouTube can even handle the load.  24 hours of video content is being uploaded to YouTube every 15 minutes and that’s only 6 years after YouTube was created.

    What about 5 years, or even 20 years down the road?

    http://www.funnyordie.com

    Eventually we will see more niche sites like the one above.  Funny or Die is a comedy niche site.  Sure you can find plenty of funny videos on YouTube, but I predict there will be more video niche sites in the future and YouTube will be apart of a much bigger whole.

    Put into perspective YouTube is like Primetime TV, and any other site that hosts videos are all the “cable channels.”  And what is a cable TV channel?  Niche content.  Simple as that.

    Despite the search-engine-ness of YouTube a lot of content is lost in the mire.  That means that somewhere down the road someone will see the need for I don’t know…. let’s say a home shopping network or something.  Where people go and WANT to be sold.

  • Zane Miller

    I always thought good content, comments, ratings, subscribers, and views were what YouTube looked at to determine the ‘spammy-ness’ of a YouTube video.

  • Zane Miller

    I made the SPAMMIEST video a few years back and I don’t see that getting deleted.

    lol

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ByhS4VgzLI4  (gotta love my intense music)

  • David Jenyns

    Very keen to chat and will save my answer for our call. Just trying to see where the contact details of you on this blog is? Can you point me in the right direction?

  • http://blog.hubze.com David Foster

    We were just shut down this week as well, and after spreading the word on Twitter, Facebook and our blog along with a nice email our account was re-instated today…but we learned a very valuable lesson about using YouTube…and will no longer be using them as our main free video host. Hi Vimeo…nice to meet you. We love you…

  • Cch130

    I finally got an answer from youtube that I’ve been terminated and forbidden from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube accounts.  Well, I guess it’s goodbye youtube for me.

    I have no idea what I did.  I had a squeeze page that I created a video for that was titled “The 5 Deadliest Sins Most People Commit When Buying a Memory Foam Mattress and How to Avoid Them.”  Actually, the video was titled “5 Deadliest Sins”.

    Now when I try to access that video it says 

    This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams and commercially deceptive content.

    Sorry about that.

    Wow, talk about ruining my credibility with potential clients.  I’ve had several websites that have given out factual original content telling people how to avoid being scammed and now I’m the scammer…??

    Google might be the 900 lb Gorilla but this kind of treatment of their customers will lead to their downfall.  Why is there no warning or opportunity to try and explain or at least take down the “offensive” content?

    I’ve put mountains of time into youtube and now it’s all vanished.

  • Mus3um

    We feel your pain and are experiencing identical responses….

    We are a non-profit attraction in Virginia – and post only animal videos, trailers to our planetarium shows and features on our new exhibits…. we were shut down on Saturday for no apparent reason. 

    We received the same message (“This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams and commercially deceptive content”)
    when attempting to access our videos and feel it casts a negative light on our attraction.

    When attempting to get an answer from YouTube, or enacting an appeal, we receive the same message saying the email used isn’t tied to that youtube acct. 

    The more we read… the less hope we have of getting our YouTube Channel reinstated!  HELP!

  • Anonymous

    Interesting theory. I can’t say I’m totally there, but i can say that I don’t have a better explanation at this point.

  • Anonymous

    Slowly but surely we’re putting the pieces of this puzzle together. I’ll be doing a follow up piece on what we’ve learned and what comes next.

  • Anonymous

    Don’t tell too many our secret ;-)

  • Anonymous

    I’m beginning to feel the same. I think (and it’s just a gut reaction), that it’s not as strategically implemented as one would hope, but I’m beginning to feel the same.