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5 Mar 2020

The Verge

Youtube reportedly demonetizes videos about coronavirus; company said subject falls under "sensitive topic"

“YouTube is demonetizing videos about coronavirus, and creators are mad”, 4 March 2020

Everyone wants to talk about the novel coronavirus outbreak right now, but you might hear YouTubers avoiding the subject — if they talk about it, they risk getting their ads shut off…

YouTube has demonetized videos about sensitive subjects in the past. The company’s advertising guidelines state that sensitive topics — usually a recent event with a “loss of life, typically as a result of a pre-planned malicious attack” — are normally not suitable for advertising. These videos are allowed to stay on the platform; they just can’t make money from YouTube’s built-in ad service.

YouTube said that the coronavirus outbreak is now being considered a sensitive topic. “As such, all videos focused on this topic will be demonetized until further notice,” Tom Leung, product officer at YouTube, said in a recent video. The policy exists to protect advertisers.

The new coronavirus meets the typical criteria. More than 95,000 COVID-19 (the disease caused by the novel coronavirus) cases have been reported worldwide, and more than 3,200 people have died. Fears over the virus spreading have led to organizers for massive tech conferences, including Google I/O, Facebook’s F8, and the annual Game Developers Conference, to cancel or postpone the events. Disney’s theme parks have shut down across Asia, and more offices are telling employees to stay home…

But not everyone gets demonetized. News channels often run videos about sensitive topics with ads that play because they provide the ads themselves…

… The company told The Verge that there are strict policies that govern what kinds of videos are allowed to have ads on, and it said policies are applied without bias. The company also told The Verge that if a creator’s channel is dedicated to covering sensitive subjects, they should still be able to monetize while making videos about stories like the novel coronavirus…