This week I received an email from YouTube that one of my videos has been removed from their platform for "violating the Community Guidelines".
The video in question is one I made as part of a 5-part series that was published on mahala.co.za — an investigative journalism piece looking into the drug usage of the Western Cape rural areas, specifically the area known as the Boland.
In this video I recorded some men while they were smoking tik, asking them about the effect it had on them, both in the moment as well as their life.
The relevant part of the YouTube guidelines state:
Videos that we consider to encourage dangerous or illegal activities include instructional bomb making, choking games, hard drug use, or other acts where serious injury may result. A video that depicts dangerous acts may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic (EDSA), and it isn’t gratuitously graphic.
I of course appealed this decision, sending them a message to explain that the video was part of a journalistic investigative piece.
Quite soon after that — about 24 hours later — I received another message from them:
Thank you for submitting your video appeal to YouTube.
After further review of the content, we've determined that your video does violate our Community Guidelines and have upheld our original decision. We appreciate your understanding.
— The YouTube Team
This video has been hosted by them for several years, and only now has it been flagged. Even though it clearly falls within their guidelines, it has still been removed. I'm not sure that a human ever looked at the content, even after my appeal.
I have recently heard a lot of people complaining about YouTube and their inappropriate flagging/removal of content. I have now experienced this myself.
Once again I find myself thinking that I should remove all my content from their platform and host my own videos. I know it's way, way harder than it sounds to simply host some videos, and that's why I'm very excited about Cloudflare's new video hosting platform, which will be released sometime soon. I will definitely try out their product and perhaps post a review of it here.