YouTube creators are reporting that videos providing coverage of the ongoing legal situation involving Dragon Ball: Super voice actor Vic Mignogna and his defamation lawsuit against numerous parties are being automatically suppressed by Youtube’s algorithm.
The issue was first brought to mainstream attention by anime YouTuber Hero Hei, who claimed that this alleged suppression was due to something changing “with the algorithm promoting suggested content” and that “it seems like it doesn’t even really want to notify subscribers of content as well”:
Hero Hei was not the only YouTuber to report suppression, as videos were similarly affected from users such as MechaRandom, Clownfish TV, and DeepHumor:
— MechaRandom🔜#STLV 🏳️🌈 (@RandomMnky) June 24, 2019
Irony: When you casually mention that videos talking about Vic Mignogna *at all* are seemingly being demonetized… and that video gets demonetized.
Fighting it. https://t.co/Ni24964qUF
— Clownfish TV (@RealClownfishTV) June 28, 2019
It’s so annoying when my subs don’t get notified about videos after they’ve been demonetized. If Youtube wants to take it off of the recommended tab that’s fine, but at least notify my subscribers…#istandwithvic #kickvic #vickicksback #WeStandWithVic #VicMignogna #DeepHumor pic.twitter.com/nkiWKL9LpM
— DeepHumor (@DeepHumor) June 28, 2019
However, it appears that these videos are not being suppressed because they are covering Mignogna and his situation specifically, but rather because the subject matter of these videos run afoul of YouTube’s content algorithm. In some cases, these videos may have violated YouTube’s content rating system, which popular YouTuber MatPat covered in a video titled Game Theory: YouTube is Ruining Gaming!:
“YouTube has a separate content rating system like you do with movies. It groups your content into specific maturity levels based on the same kind of things that we talked about on the advertisers side. Violence, language, etc., and it will actively limit the viewership of your video to only the audiences where it’s appropriate. Makes sense, but again, if you’re covering mature stuff, fewer and fewer people are going to watch what you’re doing.”
It has also been speculated that these videos are being affected by the algorithm due to the recent focus by YouTube on “borderline content” as YouTube aims to “reduce the spread of content that comes close to—but doesn’t quite cross the line of—violating [their] Community Guidelines.” To that end, YouTube stated that they would be “limiting the recommendation of these types of videos” and that:
“To be clear, this will only affect recommendations of what videos to watch, not whether a video is available on YouTube. As always, people can still access all videos that comply with our Community Guidelines and, when relevant, these videos may appear in recommendations for channel subscribers and in search results.”
Unfortunately, clarification regarding this suppression is unexpected from YouTube. Hoping to avoid future suppression, YouTubers such as Hero Hei have opted to toe the line and ensure their content is as acceptable as possible by taking measures such as avoiding profanity all together or ensuring that the thumbnails of their video do not feature even the slightest hint of violating content.
Google and YouTube are currently at the center of the censorship debate as a Project Veritas video captured a Google Executive admitting the company has plans to influence the upcoming 2020 election. The video featuring that executive as well as an an alleged anonymous Google employee has been censored by YouTube.