YouTube eliminated a piece of code that revealed to the public if a channel is paid for advertisements and subscriptions, hiding the creators who gain the most from the site.

When YouTube began to split ad money with a small group of video makers in 2007, it unleashed a generation of new internet celebrities with influence. The channels that are a part of the elite and closed group have been made public on YouTube for the past few years thanks to a small piece of code. However, last month, users and activists who had grown dependent on that flag were left in the dark.

The code was disabled by YouTube, making it impossible for producers to monitor their rivals and for researchers, journalists, and other stakeholders to hold the largest video streaming company in the world responsible for the people it admits into its YouTube Partner Program, or YPP. Its demise was not previously publicized.

Membership in YPP can serve as an affirmation of a creator’s abilities, but the ambiguity created by the code’s removal may allow both recently hired creators and those who have been fired to avoid scrutiny. Following allegations of rape and sexual assault by many women, UK comedian Russell Brand was suspended from YPP, according to a September announcement on YouTube. It’s harder to keep track of a channel’s status now.

Maen Hammad claims that in order to conduct their investigations, he and his colleagues at the US corporate responsibility advocacy group Ekō exploited the coding on YouTube channels and the tools that came with it. The group previously reported on anti-LGBTQ content that was monetized by YouTube using this flag. After numerous civil society organizations used the source codes to confirm that YouTube was making money off of some of the worst misinformation on the internet, Hammad said, “I would have to believe that YouTube removed the source code.”

Tony Woodall has been taking advantage of YouTube’s openness regarding accounts in the program in recent months. Woodall runs a vacation channel and intends to soon reach the viewing requirements to join YPP. He made advantage of the Is YouTube Channel Monetized? Google Chrome addon, which

It used the code snippet as fuel to investigate and take note of other travel accounts’ tactics that were already in YPP. “YouTube creators often wonder, ‘Why not me?’ when they see other creators on the platform making money.” says Woodall. Now that the extension has stopped functioning and there are no obvious replacements, he feels discouraged.

When asked about the disappearing code, a representative for YouTube, Kimberly Taylor, stated that the platform updates frequently to enhance the privacy of users and producers. A portion of revenues goes to the advertisers in YPP, even though their adverts show on a range of films and channels. According to Taylor, YouTube plans to keep the information about whether a user is receiving an ad income share hidden from the channel owner.

It’s questionable how sensitive that information is. According to Lindz Amer, a transgender nonbinary maker of children’s entertainment in YPP, they never thought it was alarming for the general public to know that they got a cut of YouTube’s ad money. Amer, who has almost 29,000 YouTube followers, claims that “people already assume my channel is monetized because they see my subscriber count and they see ads.” “I completely recognize the value of privacy, but I care more that my address is not publicly available online.”

Hidden Mysteries

Over 2 million producers who have satisfied the audience and quality requirements to be included in YPP are paid up to 55% of ad revenue and a share of subscription purchases by YouTube, which is controlled by Google, an Alphabet subsidiary. YouTube started running advertisements for non-YPP channels in November 2020 after claiming to have improved its capacity to recognize relevant material. The company keeps all profits from these adverts. However, the proliferation of advertisements made it difficult for the general public to ascertain with authority which producers were part of the program and received a revenue share.

Thankfully, internet archives reveal that starting in June 2021, the publicly accessible source code for YouTube channels’ homepages started to include a piece of JavaScript that included a flag indicating “true” or “false” for “is_monetization_enabled.” This allows watchdogs and potential YPP members to keep an eye on their competitors. The beneficial code was discovered by internet sleuths by December 2021 at the latest. Software companies pounced, creating free browser add-ons and ad-supported websites that showed viewers whether a specific channel was enrolled in YPP and earning ad revenues by automatically detecting “true” or “false” in the channel’s code.


One Response

  1. Garn! I don’t usually bother with these YouTube articles, but yours caught my eye. So glad I clicked on it! It’s about time someone wrote something that’s actually helpful, aye? You’re a bloody legend, that’s for sure!

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