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Ask HN: Best Way to Contact YouTube
604 points by S_A_P 43 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 166 comments
I woke up this morning to an email from YouTube stating that my channel is banned for repeated violations. They didn’t specify what I violated but it could be anything from copyright to hate speech.

Let me explain the content of all 5 videos on my 11 year + old channel.

1) a video of a squirrel that carried half a loaf of French bread along a fence and jumped into a tree. He dropped the bread during the jump but somehow managed to one hand/paw catch the bread and save it.

2) a friend of mine who was unable to ride a spring horse on a playground.

3)my son reacting to a scene from the movie hot rod(cool beans) this was a private video.

4) music video of my own music. No samples or other copyrighted material contained. 5) another music video also with no copyrighted material.

I submitted a request to the YouTube forum but I suspect that is a black hole where support requests go to die.

I’m not really all that upset and I have all the videos that are on the channel locally but the 1 strike you are banned seems awfully extreme. The fact that I wasn’t told that something was flagged or given any sort of heads up is really what bothers me. How can I get YouTubes attention?

I feel for you and you have my upvote for the signal, but good luck getting any action unless this goes sufficiently viral.

I've had this discussion with Googlers here before and this is apparently what they actually believe.

* They're content with algorithmic approaches to spam prevention and other moderation that results in numerous false positives and don't see the problem with that.

* They think their support channels are more than adequate.

* They think their bans result solely in bad actors being harmed and don't realize that shady businesses that actually do spam have endless fake companies at their disposal to keep on trucking.

Even if you get Google employees to see (which you almost certainly have now), it's frustratingly difficult to escalate this sort of issue internally. While I worked at Google (not in YouTube) I'd tried to escelate this sort of issue on several occasions and gotten absolutely nowhere. It really seems like the only way to get help is to go viral and raise enough of a stink that they're forced to help.

I wasn't even able to get my one of my best friends' access to their account restored when they had all the correct info and the automated account recovery form was breaking with absolutely useless error messages.

maybe there needs to be a new service to help the little guy? Bring back some form of the Don't be Evil

It doesn't scale.

That's the problem and why moderation is so difficult. It's incredibly difficult to scale.

Anything that allows people to appeal negative actions will be abused by bad actors. Spend some time on the League of Legends or World of Warcraft forums or subreddits and you'll see people claiming to have been suspended or banned for no reason, until eventually a moderator or CS rep will come in and say "Actually you were banned because you spammed racial slurs in the game and told a teammate to kill themselves."

Now imagine how many people put copyrighted music in their YouTube and afterwards appeal the inevitable copyright strikes on their video because they think it somehow falls under fair use or think putting "No copyright infringement intended" in the description absolves themselves of any wrong-doing.

People have suggested that this can be solved by Big Tech charging money for premium support in some fashion. It's not a perfect solution, but it would weed out the most frivolous and unimportant claims and make supporting the desperate people manageable.

That would be terrible PR for them though. "YouTube banned me just so they could take my money to get help!" "Only rich people can get their YouTube accounts unbanned!" and so on.

This could be partially mitigated if the fee behaved more like a deposit, but overall I agree, Google has no incentive to go down this route, especially because taking people's money who are already upset with you is a recipe for legal headache.

Well, there are startups that take a deposit and then ban people for getting lower than 4.5 star ratings. They keep the deposit, even when the account is unbanned.

If the price were low enough, it would be a better option than the current status quo.

There would at least be a path forward for the little guy.

"better option" for whom? Because google has already chose the best option for themselves.

The platform being so dominant is the root cause - if the person above has the ability to move away, google will change (for the betterment of the OP).

This almost exists: Google One.

> Google One is a membership that gives you more storage to use across Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos. Plus, you can redeem exclusive benefits, back up data from your phone, and get support for everything Google from our team of experts.

The problem is that there is no path to forgiveness for someone that makes an honest mistake. “Terminate account, lock out from all content (email, calendars, videos, whatever), and refuse to communicate” is something akin to using the death penalty for every violation of the law. In many cases there are teachable moments and bringing out the banhammer + silent treatment for every infraction creates a suboptimal society.

Youtube could use this problem to their advantage by allowing users to validate algorithmic based flags. Youtube could present a user a video on their feed that has been algorithmically flagged for reasons xyz. You could be one of several folks that agree or disagree. If enough disagree, the ban doesn't go into effect.

>"Actually you were banned because you spammed racial slurs in the game and told a teammate to kill themselves."

That's more than a lot of platforms give. The trend lately is to give no information about why other than pointing at a list of rules and picking one, so as not to "let bad actors game the system". Sure, then let's just get rid of the right to know which crimes the government may accuse you of committing, and just say "we determined you broke the law, you go to jail for X years, no we won't tell you what you did, if we did then criminals could find loopholes!" while happily jailing innocents.

Nonsense! All you have to do is charge a few dollars more than cost to handle every single support query, and it will scale all the way to the moon.

If sufficient moderation -- for ad supported businesses exploiting user provided content -- cannot or will not be performed, then perhaps moderation is not the problem.

I bought a pixel this year with a $100 discount for signing up for google fi. Turns out, their map is a lie, and I was completely without coverage, so I sign up with my old provider. I then get a nastygram saying I'm going to be charged the full $100 because I cancelled google fi. $50 more than the non promo price.

I honestly started to do a chargeback on the promo charge, but I guarantee you I'd lose access to all google services because of a tos violation if I did that. Lesson learned. Never do business with a monopoly provider, you have no recourse.

Just to add another anecdata I used google fi for ~4 yrs and was always pretty happy with it. Recently switched to mint just for sheer price competition -- ~$20 a month for a line + 5GB data beats fi coming in at like $50-60 for the same.

fi used to be cheaper for me because I would use $20 line + $10 data. Now mint is undercutting them on both price and giving more data.

I always felt giving your credit card to google for anything was a terrible idea. Privacy aside. A company with terrible support should never be allowed direct access to your credit card.

Did you return the phone within 15 days?

The carriers are starting to turn off service to 3g, and older 4g devices at the end of this year. I couldn't guarantee that I'd be able to get another phone like I needed, so I'm coughing up the $100, and I'm simply resolving to never trust google with my money again.

Having them claim that I'm violating their promotion because they can't deliver the service promised by their coverage map is infuriating.

The point of the 15 day return policy is to give you enough time to try their service, and if it doesn’t work for you, for whatever reason, to send the equipment back and cancel service. If you didn’t do that on time, well, that’s on you. You can’t have it both ways, to keep the equipment and get the discount while not using their service. That’s simply not what you agreed to. No carrier would let you do that.

The thing that makes me salty is that I'm being charged $50 MORE than if I had just bought the phone without google fi.

It won't happen unless they're forced to do so, or a competitor arises.

But competing with YT is nearly impossible. Maybe YTubers should start talking about some sort of association.

> Maybe YTubers should start talking about some sort of association.

Like some sort of union of workers with similar interests?

It seems like this would be more of a cartel.

Because producing creative videos is a limited resource than can be cornered?

Because creators have a business relationship with YouTube, not an employment one.

There have been a few attempts. It never goes anywhere and never will

This attitude is one of the reasons for why it will not go anywhere though. There are plenty of alternatives for YouTube. I think the problem is that there are actually way too many. We need only ONE replacement, and it has to get popular enough. The reason I am saying that we need only one replacement is that I do not expect creators to upload their videos to 100 different YouTube-likes.

As someone who worked at YouTube for some time, I'd actually say that this isn't an accurate assessment. Most of my former coworkers were disheartened at these stories. Some individuals actually were very active on the r/youtube subreddit and worked to handle individual cases that came up like this one. I think many are just resigned (but not content) to the fact that unless Google decides pump lots of money into human moderation, we are stuck with the algorithmic moderation that is responsible for many of these issues. And unfortunately, that isn't a problem that can be simply solved with code.

> Most of my former coworkers were disheartened at these stories. Some individuals actually were very active on the r/youtube subreddit and worked to handle individual cases that came up like this one.

Out of curiousity, is there any actual process that is kicked off when someone posts into the support forum or the subreddit?

Or are there just some employees who happen to browse those boards in their free/20% time - and if they feel particularly moved by some post, they can try to rally up enough internal support to do something about it?

Because with all due respect, that's not support, that's charity.

They are simply too big now, and there is this dumb idea about promoting one path of success across many different types of creators.

A plumber that wants to promote their business and it's reliability should not be required to make funny scripted videos using the "OhNo song" just to get views.

A doctor that pops pimples should not be required to make funny or gross scripted videos using the "OhNo song" just to get views.

A musician that want's to promote their music as well should not be required to make funny scripted videos using the "OhNo song" just to get views, especially because that song is probably not their own, and it has nothing to do with their music.

None of those "creators" should be required to pay to promote/boost their originally produced content either (especially when they're primarily promoting "OhNo by Creeper", but somehow that's become a widely accepted thing as well... It's all dumb, and pretty much a modern-day pyramid scheme.

If you spend most of your time working on designing thumbnails and writing scripts, finding daily trending hash tags, and in shooting and editing videos according to success advice, you're simply not working on improving your "bread and butter". As trends become coveted goals, the overall quality of content declines as well, and it burdens attention spans of viewers overall (just look at how many videos now over-use jump cuts, overly excited and sensationalized dialogue, and zoom effects)... :\

This is what also encourages content theft as an easy route to getting views and likes that ultimately do nothing good for most people... It's popularity without profit for anyone but the platform.

People get frustrated only after years of trying to climb the mountain and finding out there is nothing at the top, the platform loses it's foothold, and then is replaced by something new... Rinse and repeat... Friendster, Myspace, Mp3.Com, Napster, etc... :\

I don't really understand this. It seems like anyone working as an engineer for YouTube could find a position anywhere else. Why put up with this sort of unethical corporate behavior -- that is, banning without providing details?

You're right that it can't be solved with code, but can't it be solved by leveraging power as a scarce resource? Hiring is incredibly expensive so at some point they have to give. And if they don't, well, at least you're not contributing to the problem.

I see a lot of posts on the Internet where it seems a lot of people get into software engineering not to solve problems but to… just write code. They hate meetings. They hate anything that takes time away from writing code.

And Google is a company with primarily software engineers…

I do not believe this would address the root issue, which is not "how to put pressure on Google to do less evil".

The challenge is to moderate a popular service where any user can upload content that many actors will try to abuse.

Even putting aside that YouTube is partly supported by ads, there is no known solution as far as I know, short of turning YouTube into an old fashioned TV channel with only a few vetted content creators allowed to upload.

It would be sufficient to notify banned uploaders what rule(s) they broke and add a human-powered appeal process. With the former, the latter will be relatively cheap as reviewers and uploaders could address the specific issue.

With sufficiently complex systems to detect fraud, such as AI or that involve constraint optimisers, it is not always doable to isolate a single, clear parameter that is responsible for the data to be flagged. This is an issue also for them (source: been working on several complex rule based systems that exhibited this very problem).

As for the human powered appeal process, how to design it so that it is not spammed/abused as easily as the upload?

It's easy to explain everything away because of evil corporation, but those are also actual technical issues.

Thanks I will try the Reddit channel.

r/youtube basically a dead sub

As an ex-FB, which has a pretty similar culture, I'm apparently picking today to halfheartedly stand up to these grave injustices against company culture. My input here is mostly just to humanize the people who stand on the other side of the robotic wall that is preventing our OP from posting videos of his son, but understanding the problem a little better may help resolve it in the end.

> * They're content with algorithmic approaches to spam prevention and other moderation that results in numerous false positives and don't see the problem with that.

Spot on. False positives are part of the game when you're trying to improve on $1.3MM revenue/employee.

> * They think their support channels are more than adequate.

Anybody at any internal discussion would probably disagree with this, instead saying something along the lines of "there may be deficiencies with our support process but we can always improve them later on."

> * They think their bans result solely in bad actors being harmed and don't realize that shady businesses that actually do spam have endless fake companies at their disposal to keep on trucking.

Nobody thinks that the bans solely result in bad actors being harmed and the fact that there are endless fake companies is what necessitates these robot walls that don't have human connections. False positives will happen and a goal is minimizing them... however goal #1 is growing the product (which indirectly requires keeping false positives from getting too high) and goal #2 is preventing company liability (which directly requires that false negatives stay really low). When you have strong pressure to keep false negatives low and less pressure to keep false positives low, then you end up with a bias toward positive results.

OK, well, that's why we end up here. Is this helpful to OP? Probably not. Sorry, OP!

> Spot on. False positives are part of the game when you're trying to improve on $1.3MM revenue/employee.

Algorithmic moderation will always have false positives. The question is how you deal with them: Do you have an appeals process that involves human review or do you just say "sucks to be you" and let the false positive be the user's problem?

In a similar way, car accidents will always happen. However the car industry decided (not completely on their own) to invest in safety so that when accidents do happen, they are less deadly.

> Anybody at any internal discussion would probably disagree with this, instead saying something along the lines of "there may be deficiencies with our support process but we can always improve them later on."

The mythical time of "later on". When exactly would that be?

And yes, you can always improve anything. This is a vaguely pleasant-sounding non-statement.

The false positives at scale problem isn't something that could be solved by an appeals process, because the problem is a step above that: a lack of continuous process improvement.

Why was the false positive generated? Why was the user unable to use the process in place to appeal? And then improve the root process cause.

This is what seems to be broken at Google and Facebook, and is the fundamental difference between a black hole support model (make problems invisible to us, because they never get to us) and one that works at scale. You're always going to have false positives, but I don't think anyone feels like the mega-corps actually have a process in place to monitor and improve the process for dealing with them.

How do you design the appeal process to ensure it's not going to be spammed?

With a tiny bit of creativity in your queries you can find the channels that skirt the spirit of the rule without breaking it. Both the algorithms and the overworked humans behind the moderation just let it stand.

Then there’s channels that do everything from outright stealing content to adding a voiceover to get around copyright, playing the real video in a frame surrounded with other content and on and on.

I don’t think I have a particular knack for it but I see way too many of these channels every single time I open YouTube. They’re all perfectly fine.

AND that’s what is extremely annoying. If the rules are applied by a bit but in a consistent way and mercilessly, people will either not break the rules by being aware or they’ll switch to something else where their stuff is not banned.

I’m also just realizing that all my subscriptions are inaccessible since my channel is cut off so I will have to re-create that list with a new account now. Sigh. That’s probably the worst part is finding and recreating my subscription list.

I'm not sure what other browsers its available for, but there's a Safari extension PocketTube that can save and categorize your YouTube subscription list apart from your actual account. So if you get banned, resubscribing is possible.

It's crazy their is a big enough need for that, that someone made that a product.

There's also the application called FreeTube which stores subscriptions offline as well. And comes with complete adblocking including the ad placements within videos.

I've been managing most of my YouTube consumption via RSS. Well, that is until they remove their channel RSS feeds at some point in the future...

I would still be sad if they blocked my account. I'm actively trying to get better at making videos and there are some very nice memories on there (which I have saved locally, of course, but still).

Nothing will happen. Helping users costs money. One of my friends was bullied and a humiliating video of it posted on YouTube. I was a Google employee at the time and filed a ticket with YouTube to have the video removed for violating the site's rules. YouTube ignored it and did nothing.

Google employees (including YouTube employees) only do what gets them promoted. This is all Larry & Sergei's fault. Only governments can make them behave as responsible members of society. So here's what you can do:

1. Report bad business practices to the FTC [0] or the European Commission department for Justice and Consumers [1]

2. Report the problem to your elected representatives [2].

3. Use the company's products less or migrate to a better-behaved product. I've done this with Facebook, Instagram, Google Maps (Apple Maps is good enough now), Google Search (DuckDuckGo is good enough), and Facebook Messenger (iMessage is good enough).

[0] https://reportfraud.ftc.gov

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/info/departments/justice-and-consumers_...

[2] https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member

This is unbelieable.

Googlers are smart people, how can they believe in something this plain wrong?

> Googlers are smart people,

They are probably highly skilled in the things they are selected for skill in. “Smart”, even when it is really high general IQ, doesn't translate to universal proficiency without dedicating time and effort to particular domains.

> how can they believe in something this plain wrong?

Strong selective pressure: people who don't have beliefs that fit with the current Google context and bureaucracy are less likely to be selected by, or select to work for, Google and, even if they are, are more likely to be selected out, or voluntarily depart.

See the destruction of the Ethical AI unit over issues very closely related to the conflict over blind faith in algorithmic approaches.

Oh, I doubt most Googlers believe those things. I'm sure they know they have terrible customer service and support. I would say it's borderline non-existent.

I suspect the rationale is something like "Well, you don't pay for your YouTube account (or don't pay that much) so you shouldn't expect good support or moderation."

If you want a video broadcast service where only paying customers can provide content, you already have one, it's called TV.

> Googlers are smart people

they are smart enough to know that "improved customer service" will never get them that promotion

You've answered your own question.

The System constructed by Googlers is so smart, the Googlers themselves are subject to a form of papal infallibility.

Isn't it more of a Tyler Durden calculas, "If it costs less to payoff the wrongful death suits than to issue a recall, then we don't do one."

Getting a $200,000 paycheck regardless of how many people your company fucks over helps.

Because humans, even smart ones, are tribal and these particular people are part of a tribe that believe in said points.

Motivation and Cognitive bias. It is very believable, every organization and person has them.

The most frustrating part of all this is that they could afford to hire people to manually do all of this work, they just choose not to, because it saves them money.

If we pressured companies like Google to hire people to do customer support and to review flagged videos manually, it would create more jobs and make using the internet a better experience. But for now, they can just choose not to, and save a buck.

When your paycheck depends on you not understanding something. You will sure make an effort to not understand :)

right, out of touch, like with many other of their products.

Most likely some spambots hit the "report" button on your channel. sometimes its people with very similar video as yours and want their content to be viral.

youtube "Hero" is a dumpster fire. Someone mass banned my google dev account for one app that I had for around 8 years as "impersonating or trying to impersonate" whatever that means.

I applied for review and got an automated review that even all related accounts will be banned and they went ahead and banned a related play dev account.

Weird thing is that I have a google cloud account with $120k yearly spend and my startup on it. Time to hedge my bets and move off google cloud.

> Weird thing is that I have a google cloud account with $120k yearly spend and my startup on it. Time to hedge my bets and move off google cloud.

I wouldn't trust Google with anything valuable... their customer support is non existent and the company seems to be "full of themselves" in dealing with their errors and things that are their fault.

For all shit that Amazon gets, my experience with AWS has been generally positive: Their technical support is really good (you get a HUMAN who guides you through screen share to achieve what you want) and it has been quite dependable in the more 10+ years that I have used them commercially.

Today's Google feels like Microsoft in the 90s or early 2000: "You don't like us, tough luck, fuck you and you still have to use us".

Reminds me of the Terraria dev saying that doing business with google is a liability.


> Weird thing is that I have a google cloud account with $120k yearly spend and my startup on it. Time to hedge my bets and move off google cloud.

Aren't you afraid to get your startup down by some automated BS hell?

I am too ingrained into google cloud. I can migrate only at the cost of very annoyed customers and employees.

besides as a solo boostrapped company, I hardly have any time for tech work.

I'm suspicious of video #4 being the reason.

There is a wave of people copying other people's music, claiming as their own and then sending claims to the original video.

Maybe since your channel is small, Youtube decided to just ban. I've seen it happened with people who tried to pirate music more than once.

I don't post any music at all on Youtube. It all goes trough a third-party service that posts on my behalf and on streaming services.

The copying issue can arise when using legally licensed content loops and tracks without substantial modification and layering.

Basically when it is easy and simple and sounds good right out of the box, someone else has beat you to using it in a song, and you are in violation of their copyright.

The license to the loop/track/etc. doesn’t mean your work isn’t protected by copyright. And it doesn’t mean your work doesn’t infringe on other work using the same content under the same license.

> Basically when it is easy and simple and sounds good right out of the box, someone else has beat you to using it in a song, and you are in violation of their copyright.

No, it’s not. Not in a million years is a violation. This is not how copyright and licensing works. Youtube doing what it does is 100% wrong in every aspect, technical and practical.

> The license to the loop/track/etc. doesn’t mean your work isn’t protected by copyright. And it doesn’t mean your work doesn’t infringe on other work using the same content under the same license.

You’re 100% wrong. If you use something licensed to you, then you are not violating anything, and just because someone beat you, doesn’t mean they get exclusive rights to the sound. This is 100% pure bullshit.

ContentID is not synonymous with copyright. And ContentID is severely broken.

Just like your reply below that seems to ve flagged, your new post is also 100% wrong.

I suppose that is possible but don’t they give you a strike for that instead of an outright ban for strike 1?

That's correct, but I've seen this rule being broken often on channels that had pirate music.

The music has been there for 8 years for one and 2 years for the second one. I’m wondering If my channel name is the reason “stupid American pig” is my band name. But it’s been that name since 2008

Holy Shit! That's a fantastic name. Are you punk rock?

But I agree that is a very dangerous name in the time of algorithm controlled moderation.

I’m a fan of punk rock but I wouldn’t call my music that. Mostly lofi type stuff.

Ah the plot thickens, then! It could be an overzealous filter.

I wish there was a shazam service for Google... People that hijack music should not be allowed to profit from doing so at the original artist's expense, and YT is liable for letting that happen. There will probably be a class action suit in a few years where Lawyers will likely collect all the settlement money, and then justice won't be served. This is America.

Pasting a comment from myself ... [0]

> This video (link below) has been marked as having a song when there is absolutely no fragment of the song in the video.

> The video was used for Forever Young by Youth Group. But this is the original footage, from Australian TV, from 1976. Waaay before even the original Forever Young, by Alphaville in 1984.

>I went to record a complaint but you have to be the owner, so I threw it in the too hard basket.

> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nod5q7OHAF4

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26910465

Yep. There were several lots of other examples like this one posted in Hacker News threads and in Reddit in the recent months. This is an epidemic of ContentID scams.

If I understand you correctly, it does exist, and it's called Content ID.

Only Google people can view the back-end of Content ID... I'm talking about a service that we as normal people can use to see where our own music is being used across the Internet... Right now the only thing content creators can do is use metadata to search for their own content, but if there was a method to search for the footprints of music and film, then we could work on overall fairness better.

Oh I see. That would be very cool. Sounds like it could work similarly to the "search Google for this image" feature.

Yeah, unfortunately Google reverse image search doesn't work properly any more as well :(

Use Yandex. It's all in Russian but it's... try it, and then try it some more.

I don't even find it inconvenient that I can't long-press and "search Yandex for this image" on my phone, the quality is sufficiently better enough that it's worth it to {go navigating through Recent/whatever|copy/paste the URL}

I do music as a hobby and tried to use YouTube to share some stuff with Reddit/Discord/friends and I couldn't get anything to survive unclaimed for more than a day after posting on Reddit. I was using maybe some samples from percussion but from a pack that I have a license to but the rest of the stuff was my own sound design and arrangement... also it sounded really bad.

Now I just don't share on Reddit anymore and mostly use private links because of that experience.

Your original work uses the licensed track. You have a copyright.

Someone else used the same track in their original work. They also have copyright.

Your work is similar to their work.

If they were first they have a plausible copyright claim against you.

Unless the license was copyleft. Which is a motivation for copyleft.

The license to a drum track only protects from claims from the rightsholder of the drum track.

> Your original work uses the licensed track

Using samples for percussion doesn’t mean sampling other commercial tracks, nor does it mean you’re using loops.

> Your work is similar to their work. > > If they were first they have a plausible copyright claim against you. > > Unless the license was copyleft. Which is a motivation for copyleft. > > The license to a drum track only protects from claims from the rightsholder of the drum track.

This is 100% incorrect. There is nothing here that matches reality of copyright.

The owner of the original recording that was sample owns the copyright but can license to others without losing it.

If you have a legitimate license and the licenser is the legitimate copyright owner, you are in the clear.

One person using it doesn’t make them the owner.

The copyleft advice is also completely wrong. Copyleft in the context of music is untested in courts and wouldn’t make a iota of difference here.

There's the approach of showing up in person to voice displeasure. Even if it's not an avenue you plan on taking, it's sufficiently viable that Alphabet / Google / YouTube should include it in their threat model.

I'd strongly recommend taking steps to remove yourself from the platform, voting with your feet. You're cetainly not strongly wedded, as major YouTube creators are, many of whom have been taking steps to establish themselves more independently of that one platform and its advertising revenue, through direct donations (generally through Patreon, which I'd put fair money on one of the monopolists buying out at some point, possibly to shut down). What I'd strongly suggest is trialing peer-to-peer video-sharing technologies such as PeerTube.

Note that the independent route may also be subject to copyright claims (will your Internet provider cut you off?), harassment, and/or cracking attempts. YouTube does actually protect you a gainst a fair amount of that. You'll also want to find out what CDN options are available for that video that makes you Internet Famous for a day.

I'd strongly urge you to file complaints with your political representatives and consumer-protection agencies. This would include local (city/county), state, and national representatives, as well as your state's attorney (usually, there may be another consumer protection agency), and national communications and trade agencies (in the US: FCC and FTC). This step combined with seeking out and promoting alternatives is our best way out of the present monopoly hell.

I'd specifically request:

- Appeals processes for account bans.

- Full reports on why invalid bans were imposed.

There's a long list of other reforms people who've spent more time than me on this have come up with. Look up Cory Doctorow, Tim Wu, Tristan Harris, the EFF, and others who are advocating for reforms.

> There's the approach of showing up in person to voice displeasure.

People should remember that someone showed up at Youtube HQ with a gun a few years ago[0].


Re: threat model

I am sure it is I considered. There was that one shooting at the YouTube, campus caused by precisely this.

I am aware.

Tell us how it goes. My channel was taken down for the same reason. A private video of a friend singing was marked as hate speech and my whole channel was wiped for it. I never got it back, no matter how many emails I sent.

Don’t worry, “repeated violations” means their backend workers flagged your content or processed reports on your content multiple times. Not a fault on your side.

Could be 1.5s of silence in your video repeatedly flagged automatically and cleared manually, or had been script reported by 65535-node botnet that claims to be real individual non-group of people in a remote Eastern Europe village.

Every major social networks has this class of problems, worsening each minute as time goes on, and while your online fame can be exploited to exempt yourself from it, it will probably need a legislative action to control.

This also happened to me in march 2021 on a channel with almost no videos and no activity at all "We have reviewed your content and found severe or repeated violations of our Community Guidelines. Because of this, we have removed your channel from YouTube.".

Got another email later the same day from YouTube: "We're pleased to let you know that we've recently reviewed your YouTube account and, after taking another look, we can confirm that it is not in violation of our Terms of Service. We have lifted the suspension of your account, and it is once again active and operational."

Must have been an error or glitch, I did not take any action. Maybe the same for you.

YT, TikTok, IG (etc) are having extensive problems with people gaming their algorithms. The algorithms were launched way too early without proper testing of course, and they now allow content spammers and re-uploaders (content thieves) to make creator fund money for literally stealing content.

Right now their storage is balooning with duplicate content because of the wave of content theft that TikTok has encouraged, and it may be necessary for the clock to be reset, and for their copyright policies and support to be fixed in total. This means that original content creators, and creator funds may also take a big hit until something stable is finally worked out, but it shouldn't let platforms like YouTube off the hook for shoddy copyright policies and and mis-management of the process for many years.

They need to implement a cutoff date for enforcement, the trend of content copying was not popular until TikTok surged in popularity, somewhere around then should be the cutoff point (around 3 years ago). YouTube also created shorts, which was only another poorly thought out enticement for content theft and cloning.

I followed procedure over 2 years ago to request my profile be converted into a music artist profile, and YouTube still has not done anything nor responded... They need to also hire real life moderators and implement a real support and moderation team/process that is professional and accountable. If they don't the entire site will turn into a platform of spam and junk ads and triggering content like TikTok is fast becoming now.

Original content creators are the lifeblood of social media platforms, they shouldn't be required to go unrewarded, and worse yet, they shouldn't be abused and ignored by the platforms they post to... OC creators are the only ones that help platforms to disguise the fact that they're collecting money under the table from big industry.

Through legal channels, but you agreed to Terms of Service. They may redirect your request to someone that could help, or a further black hole.

Email: legal@support.youtube.com

Fax: +1 650 872 8513


    Legal Support

    YouTube (Google LLC)

    901 Cherry Ave.

    San Bruno, CA 94066


Malice hat:

Maybe bots are trying to muddy the waters of legitimate take down requests by flooding support with fake ones.

Incompetence hat:

Maybe YouTube’s abuse detection is broken.

>Malice hat...Incompetence hat

How can you tell them apart? ;) Jokes aside, I'd like to add another hat, which is "ambivalence hat", which says: This person's pain is not all that important. The (very mild) harm it does to YT's reputation can be safely ignored. Ambivalence hat synergizes with "ignorance hat" which is the one that says, "Gosh, I'd like to help but I just don't know what to do."

(A person wearing both ambivalent AND ignorant hats is a good approximation of the population at any given time about any given topic, btw.)

Cynic hat:

Youtube doesn't care about false positives, not even a little bit. If some random Joe with five videos gets run over - the cost is really zero. Not having any support ensured the random Joe won't waste anybody's time and money on something the company doesn't care about. The money comes in from million-subscriber channels carrying ads. The rest can shut up and watch the ads - or just shut up. Youtube is not for Joes with five videos - they are tolerated, but that's all, nothing is optimized for them.

You can wear multiple hats at the same time.

Just removed all my videos from YouTube, I can't be bothered with nonsense like this. Sorry friends.

Why do that? Just leave them there and don't check on them. There is no benefit to dropping out of a game that you don't really need to do anything to play.

You don't have to follow the stupid and time-wasting script they promote for being a creator.... It's a phony script. There are several other ways to skin the cat of promotion in getting people to listen.

Ideally, it's a way to get Google to actually address these complaints.

However, until professional YouTubers start leaving and cause Google's ad revenue to dip by 2-3%, we won't see any action. Most of us with a handful of random videos deleting our content from YouTube won't change anything. And even if the top 50 YouTubers quit en masse, there's still the queue of bright hopefuls more than willing to fill those spots.

We often forget the people desperate for money in the world, many people working on 5 year old cell phones that would be happy to make even a dollar to feed their family for 1 month. These are also the people we're pitted in competition with on these platforms that are too far-reaching to really be helpful. This is why protests don't work. Those struggling people would be happy to replace any of us with (even those of us with very minor levels of success) in a scam-riddled creator economy.

The platforms have a responsibility to create better economies of scale so that each community can be more effectively managed and integrated.

One single "front page" or "For you page" (or even a handful of them) is a terribly short sighted idea from a terribly greedy mind... And it's probably the main reason why most content uploaded never finds an audience on most modern platforms.

Reddit had that right at first, but they began to let moderators control each subreddit like it's own single front page, which then also introduced the usual corruption and pay-for-play into the mix.

Professional YouTubers get human support. I know even some kinda of the kinda bespoke music production channels with like 25k/30k subs get human support.

If you make money for YT, they support you... It's a pretty reasonable thing, but the truth is that under the table YT is also deeply involved in supporting big industry and even manufactured celebrities, and that's exactly what corrupts the "vibrant creator community" model.

YT (and many other platforms) end up needing to make sure that their sponsored artists always trend first no matter what, and consequently that also means they need to take steps to hold other (non-affiliated) artists down once they begin to trend and gain support through organic means.

It's kind of like the friend that invites you over to play a video game, but when they only have one game controller... They really just want you to watch them play games...

The best thing to do in that situation is to ignore them and create your own footprint elsewhere until they get bored of putting on a terribly inconsiderate and selfish party.

I'm not the GP but I also removed the sole video I had in my account and deleted the channel. The video just had birds in it. If Google bans the account for any reason, it might spill over to other accounts that are easy to associate with it. I can't afford to lose those.


I don't need my whole Google account being locked for some dumb strike/claim/whatever for some stuff I don't care about.

I began this painful process just recently deleting the vast majority of my old videos. :(

Yep. I just use social network or disposable/temporary video hosts for anything now.

Any example for said video hosts? Vimeo isn't much better these days

Streamable and Ufile are the ones I used last, if you don't want anything too permanent. Imgur has videos too I think.

If you aren't flooding Google with insane amounts of cash, good luck ever talking to a real person.

It is obvious to everyone involved (except, apparently, employees of Alphabet) that YouTube's system for reporting violations and adjudicating them is broken.

I would happily move to using a competitor instead except that between the price point (free or better) and the mass audience, there are no effective competitors.

What can we do about this?

> 3)my son reacting to a scene from the movie hot rod(cool beans) this was a private video.

This would seemingly be the most straightforward reason. The system flagged a copyright film clip. Though this doesn't explain why you didn't get a notice about just that video.

But honestly, why spend time worrying about this? It sounds like you barely used your account, so just get a new one.

I get that sentiment but I think it’s the fact that I have to start over and make a new channel. Lost all my subscriptions that I watch. The fact that 1 strike and you’re out is a thing.

The private video did not show the movie and showed my son getting excited and trying to imitate the cool beans bit. It was barely audible in a few seconds of the 20 second video and my son was talking over it so I doubt automated solution would likely not fingerprint it. It’s also about 10 years old and has always been private.

The fact that it's private is irrelevant. The fact that it's been up for 10 years may also be irrelevant if this property was just added to the scanner's library.

Honestly, you're wasting way too much mental energy on this. Youtube is a blackbox. Effectively, it bans and otherwise penalizes accounts arbitrarily with absolutely no recourse. You either use their services understanding this, or don't. It's pretty straightforward.

> Though this doesn't explain why you didn't get a notice about just that video.

I don't know if that's a thing with YouTube and private videos, but when I got a copyright strike on my YouTube account because of a private video I never got explicitly notified about it.

I just have random stuff on my channel, similar to what OP describes and largely use YouTube for watching content. The video in question was a private video of me doing a quick demo of some project where a radio was faintly playing in the background (I didn't even notice that at first - only after finding the original video file and cranking up the volume did I realize that the mic picked up some recognizable music in the background).

I would have never noticed that I had a copyright strike if I wasn't bored and randomly clicking through the YouTube UI one day.

Put them on blast on Twitter or HN, get upvoted/retweeted a lot.

It's kinda like Linux tech support: ask "How do I do X?" and get told to RTFM. But say "Linux sucks because I can't do X" and nerds will fall all over themselves to help you.

I wonder how hard it would be to create a protocol which avoids problems like this.

A user who wants to publish a video could do that in the form of special links which contain a hash of the video (maybe magnet links do that?).

They could do that on their own website for example. Or in multiple places. Their website, their GitHub pages, their Twitter etc.

The viewer (say Joe) who wants to see such a video would click the special link and have a software that searches it on a decentralized network of nodes.

Some other viewer (say Paul) who recently viewed the video and still has it in his cache could deliver the video to Joe.

In return, Joe could automatically get some crypto currency. Say worth $0.01 or so.

Content aggregators could crawl all these sites and create an experience similar to YouTube. Or maybe this could also be implemented in a decentralized fashion.

No one wants to wait for decentralized videos to load.

Sure, the hundred or thousand most popular videos will load relatively quickly, but some video I saw 10 years ago that is relevant to a conversation I am having would either take a very long time to load, or not load at all. And now you, the human, as a content producer, need to game the algorithm to be viral with every video.

Don't get me wrong I think YouTube and Google drop the ball constantly, but you can't decentralize content distribution and have the selection you do now. It'd be like going back to the 70s with broadcast television.

If the $0.01 is more than what it costs to store the video until someone requests it and deliver it, then loading will be super fast. Because tons of players in the market will compete for this margin.

This, minus the cryptocurrency, is IPFS. (Though I've never used it, so I may be wrong.)

Without currency, what is the incentive for nodes to cache and forward content?

There are some systems which are implementing stuff like this, like IPFS and Filecoin, Storj, Swarm, and others.

We could really use a decentralized YouTube. Our collective culture just should not be living behind YouTube's walls.

If you think that's bad, imagine a whole year of missing the entire "good" music promotion wave on TikTok because they were automatically muting every video I posted of my own music (without any explanation or POC) due to applying vague copyright rules against me... Now TikTok is flooded and promo capability is very weak. I decided to just develop my own site further though, and it's automatically targeted to people who like my music without me having to figure out which hashtags are trending every day at least...

The best way I've found to spur YouTube into action though is to @ their account on Twitter... It works for now.

Don't know the answer but thanks for the information. I have also user in youtube where I have uploaded some random recorded videos with my brother and other memories that I have no local copy of. Will make that ASAP!

I think the only real way to get their attention is to convince someone sufficiently tech famous to tweet that you're getting a shit deal from YouTube. Only then will a real person step in.

From their ToC: https://www.youtube.com/static?template=terms&noapp=1

> Notice for Termination or Suspension

> We will notify you with the reason for termination or suspension by YouTube unless we reasonably believe that to do so: (a) would violate the law or the direction of a legal enforcement authority, or would otherwise risk legal liability for YouTube or our Affiliates; (b) would compromise an investigation or the integrity or operation of the Service; or (c) would cause harm to any user, other third party, YouTube or our Affiliates. Where YouTube is terminating your access for Service changes, where reasonably possible, you will be provided with sufficient time to export your Content from the Service.

Given the nature of your videos, and the fact that they did not give you a reason for the ban, the EFF might be interested to hear from you. There’s a case to be made here that YouTube is not fulfilling its side of the EULA.

I’m not even remotely adjacent to being a lawyer, but EFF has good ones. Since you still have access the 5 videos in question, meaning you can provide EFF with their content, you might possess a significant test case. The sticking point could be the private video content; I have no idea how that works. EFF would.

EDIT: upon second read, “or would otherwise risk legal liability for YouTube or our Affiliate” is big enough to drive the broad side of a barn through, and might invalidate the rest. It’d be nice if “adding clauses to make you feel good but which we can 100% ignore” was banned from EULAs.

I uploaded a private video of a screen recording of me demoing an in-development feature of a website for a client so that I could ask them if that's how they intended it to function. There was no audio.

That video received a strike and was flagged as a scam... before I ever even sent it to the client. YT is ridiculous.

Just for the record: if you don't really plan to monetize your videos -- just share and store, consider using Peertube


It's instances usually have low quotas though~

It's wild to me the strength of Youtube's monopoly. I was just talking with a friend about this the other day... I can't think of another consumer app with as dominant a position.

Imagine getting a fine for speeding but without revealing the location where you were speeding. What size do these companies need to be before we get some consumer protection regulations

Best way? I can think of four:

1. Have a large enough Twitter following such that complaining will get somebody's attention;

2. Know someone at Google who can contact the right people to resolve this;

3. Be a large enough advertiser such that your account manager will make noise on your behalf; or

4. Be a large enough content producer such that the threat of you pulling your content from Youtube is sufficient to get their attention.

This isn't unique to Youtube or Google. It's just how "support" works on platforms these days.

If you're from the EU or UK write a letter and have it sent with proof of delivery. It's illegal to be denied a request without a human evaluation.

[citation required]

The best way to contact YouTube Google or alphabet is to drag them through the news and force them to do something

almost impossible to reach a human unless you know someone who works there, or unless you get the media's attention, or are a huge brand, or spend a lot of money on ads, sorry

> 4) music video of my own music. No samples or other copyrighted material contained. 5) another music video also with no copyrighted material.

This is probably the reason why. Was in a similar situation ~2 years ago when my 2006 YouTube account got banned. I was given the chance to appeal the decision where I had to fill out a form. In the form I wrote that I believe the reason I got banned was because of the music that was on my channel and that it may have looked like I was trying to share copyrighted music (I had download links in the description as well, btw). I closed my statement explaining that the music had no copyright.

One week later, to my surprise, the account was restored. Check your email and see if you got a link to where you can fill out the same form I did. Good luck.

I lost my Google account the same way in 2007ish. I never got it back, nor was I able to get any explanation of the violation or chance at redemption. Best of luck to you, but until there is regulatory pressure to give some rights to account owners, you’re probably not getting anywhere.

Let me describe my experience with contacting youtube. An ad popped up, prompting me to subscribe to the family plan, and since I was getting fed up for a while, I went with it. Surprise, my wife and my daughter couldn't join, for whatever mystic reasons yt considered. I contacted YT via chat support. While the technology behind their support bots has evolved a lot, they even simulate passing you from one support rep to another, and they show even empathy towards your issues, they aren't able to solve anything. So, about two days lost in training YT bots for me, and stuck with family plan without being able to add my family. Great experience, and pleasant waste of time chatting :))))

Can "banned for repeated violations" be construed as defamation (libel)?

Maybe average internet users go to OP's channel, see it's banned, and assume that OP did something illegal—like posting pirated movies, stealing money earned from copyrighted music, or even worse things like posting violent videos, terrorism or child pornography—thus tarnishing OP's good name.

I wish we had some legal mechanism for average citizens that covered the increasingly common case where "company X forced me to spend a bunch of time/money because of their mistake."

P.S. Sorry that happened to you. Good that you had local backups, that's a lesson for us all!

Everything you listed is someone else's opinion on what happened, but never stated by the company. All the company did publicly was say "this account is banned" with no libelous or defamatory statements attached. IANAL.

My impulsive answer to this problem is "you had it coming for subscribing to a service with unacceptable terms".

For the non-impulsive answer, I don't really have anything of value to say.

Why do you need youtube? You have the videos. You are not deriving any revenue from it being hosted on youtube or need their monetization capabilities, I presume. Just host it on an alternative platform (rumble? Odyssey? Others?) and tell your friends to do the same. Fortunately, youtube is not the only game in town, why insist on using a platform that clearly doesn't want to be used?

I had a same kind of situation. I had only one video 7 year old and no activity. Appeal did not do anything.

Not even getting response. After the appeal they deleted also my YouTube account which was even more scaring.

It is crazy how much playlist, channels and history was in the account. I am really puzzled that my mobile version still works with my user data.

We need a rule of law from these unaccountable tech-giants.

It's not an acceptable to say "algorithm did it" with no recourse.

Upvoting this for signal

Youtube is becoming heavily commercialised leading to the little man getting pushed out, and Youtube losing it's best asset - the wild west of videos.

On top of that, there seems to be more ads than ever and I don't see this ever stopping.

Your problem going viral is the only tried and true solution for human involvement. Sorry.

Just put your videos on PeerTube, Odysee, Rumble or any of the other video platforms out there. If you have a server of your own you could host a PeerTube instance and put them there.

Ditch YouTube.

Something doesn't add up. Why would you submit a request to the YouTube forum? The email notification you received should have contained instructions on appealing.

this is not worth upvoting ppl. Help out in the comments and move along.

here's a previous recent thread on similar: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26916096

For me only their twitter support worked @TeamYoutube. All other channels were silent.

I wonder if you could just try putting your videos elsewhere? Vimeo? Self-host?

Did you post any comments on other videos while being logged in that channel?

Never anything other that “this is great content” type content. I purposely do not comment on videos I don’t like or post negative or argumentative comments. I’ve a few YouTuber friends and we chat on their channels now and then. Again much like here on HN I do make an effort to keep most comments friendly and positive.

What is your yt channel url/id?

Do you have a desirable username?

Lost a channel that was in good standing for 14 years in a similar way. I would have appreciated being able to download the hundreds of playlists and the watch history I built, as is guaranteed under the provisions of the EU GDPR legislation. Unfortunately the export tool didn't produce any data.

Maybe the squirrel sent in a DMCA takedown?

that only applies if the squirrel holds the camera and takes the shot itself.

Squirrel barratry is real and it's here.

This isn't Reddit.

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