Corporate Workshops

During the morning of Wednesday, December 11th, a video with millions of views was taken down by YouTube for breaking brand new rules the platform implemented for cyberbullying. It only took a matter of hours for the outrage to grow to the point where #YouTubeisOverParty is the top trending topic.

So now the question is, how is this going to affect us as content creators and consumers?, Essentially, what’s in store for the future on other social media platforms?

Steven Crowder vs. Carlos Maza and Vox Media

YouTube has had to make a lot of tough decisions this year when it comes to freedom of speech vs cyberbullying and harassment, and it started with the liberal reporter Carlos Maza from Vox vs conservative podcast host Steven Crowder. Maza accused Crowder of homophobia and racism, but the opposition said that you shouldn’t censor comedians like Crowder. This also took place just a few months before VICE called Dave Chappelle’s recent Netflix special Sticks and Stones transphobic.


This situation put a lot of pressure on YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, but YouTube decided to try to appease both sides by giving Crowder a slap on the wrist rather than removing his channel. Although people on the side of Maza were upset with the leniency, YouTube may have done this to avoid additional claims that they censor conservative hosts. Soon after this incident, in an interview with old-school YouTuber Alfie Deyes, Wojcicki discussed the nuances of policing hate speech versus allowing creators to make videos critical of others.

The Crackdown Has Begun

Wednesday morning, at 6:30 AM PST, the massive YouTube creator iDubbbz sent out the following tweet:


Ian aka iDubbbz has over 7.7 million subscribers, and he rose to YouTube fame with his Content Cop series. iDubbbz was one of the original creators who made YouTube commentary a thriving genre on the platform. Creators across the platform make videos about one another much like mainstream news commentators. Their intention is to keep others accountable and call out what they feel is immoral behavior.

With the help of the YouTube community creating this type of commentary content, abusers like Austin Jones have been sent to prison for taking advantage of their young audiences. So, understandably, many commentary channels on YouTube are nervous that they’ll be accused of cyberbullying when their intent is to make the platform a safer place for everyone.

I personally have a YouTube channel that currently has about 80,000 subscribers, and it’s dedicated to the sensitive subjects of mental health and addiction. My first year on the platform, I realized the platform doesn’t promote mental health and addiction topics, so I created a unique blend of commentary to give examples of topics that could be used to increase awareness. My top video has close to 1,000,000 views, and it dives into the psychology of someone who was the victim of child grooming and trauma.

Is This the Right Move by YouTube?

We believe that YouTube’s intentions are pure. Cyberbullying and public shaming are major issues in the world today, and it leads to many mental health issues. Not only that, but the internet gives ill-intentioned people free raign to voice sexist, racist and homophobic views. In an effort to make their platform more inclusive of everyone, they felt that this was the best move, but as we’ve already seen, this comes with some unintended consequences that may only get worse.

In their official blog post, they say the goal is to reduce “the spread of borderline content, raising up authoritative voices when people are looking for breaking news and information and rewarding trusted creators and artists that make YouTube a special place.”


How Does This Affect the Rest of Us?

Our specialty here at Bell+Ivy is Integrated Marketing Communications, so we’re not legal experts, but this does make one wonder about what this means for all of our constitutional rights when it comes to social media.

We must ask ourselves how this can affect the freedom of the press. We’re currently in the middle of the impeachment hearings for President Donald Trump. Could Trump flag videos with opinions about him as harassment and cyberbullying?

When it comes to controversies like the situation between Steven Crowder and Carlos Maza, there was a lot of talk about our freedom of speech. While one side argued that Steven Crowder made racist and homophobic statements, the other side argued that comedy should be protected under this amendment.

For a long time, creators have been worried about mainstream late-night hosts like Jimmy Fallon and Stephen Colbert taking over the platform as well as celebrities like Will Smith and Jack Black creating YouTube channels. With 6 out of 10 people preferring online platforms to live TV and YouTube accruing 3.25 billion hours of watch time each month, uploading content to the platform has been an extremely wise move.

It’s important that we don’t forget small creators who made the platform successful in the first place, and they’re the ones who were able to get #YouTubeisOverParty trending on Twitter. YouTube has given your average person the opportunity to make an actual living by creating content, and a lot of them do YouTube commentary. Creators are already bringing up the double standard in relation to how YouTube treats corporations compared to how they treat the average creator.

The typical opening monologue from late-night hosts is critical of people, but we wouldn’t consider that cyberbullying. HBO’s videos from Last Week Tonight with John Oliver average millions of videos each upload, and they recently received over 6 million views on a video with a comedic musical number telling the coal tycoon Bob Murray to eat...well, let’s just say the brown emoji with eyes.

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

A prime example is a recent story that took place with smaller creators on YouTube where commentary creator D’Angelo Wallace accused another creator of racism and antisemitism. Others from the commentary community like WillyMacShow disagree with D’Angelo.

Should D’Angelo be allowed to share his opinion of Turkey Tom without being called a cyberbully? Absolutely. Should a creator like WillyMacShow be able to share his opinion about the subject, or is it harassment? And if this was a story about mainstream celebrities going back and forth, would YouTube’s view the situation differently?

Personally, I’ve been the target of harassment and cyberbullying with other creators making videos about me, but I’d never flag those videos because I’m trying to see the bigger picture. If I were to flag their videos about me, would creators start flagging my mental health and addiction videos that use celebrity YouTubers to give context for mental health and addiction topics?

It’s definitely a possibility.

YouTube and CEO Susan Wojcicki have a history of admitting to bad decisions for the platform in the past, so all we can do is hope they’ll make thoroughly thought out decisions when it comes to taking down videos for cyberbullying and harassment.