I’ve Been Censored By Youtube

I have had my first video removed from Youtube. It’s a trailer for “That’s What I Like” that I edited so it was incredibly tame (see above). Essentially it consists of shots of Mia talking about sex alternating with images of her kissing Andy. The closest the video comes to nudity is bare shoulders. And you can see that they are on a bed. Apparently that’s far too rude for the good people at Youtube.

The official “warning” email and page that I received said:

The YouTube Community has flagged one or more of your videos as inappropriate. Once a video is flagged, it is reviewed by the YouTube Team against our Community Guidelines. Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content in violation of these guidelines, and have been disabled:

That’s What I Like Trailer – (indigolush)

YouTube is not the place for nudity, pornography or other sexually provocative content. YouTube makes limited exceptions for appropriate educational, documentary, artistic and scientific contexts, but only in limited circumstances where the purpose of posting is clear and any nudity it is not sexual in nature.

OK, so… “That’s What I Like” is an erotic film that could be said to be “sexually provocative” but it’s also a documentary and I think it’s rather artistic. Also, the trailer is extraordinarily tame and does not include any nudity or pornography or sexually provocative content. It’s just a bare-bones glimpse at a sexual documentary.


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I suspect that this has come about because I complained to Google about losing the ability to login to my Indigo Lush Youtube account thanks to Google merging Gmail/Blogger/Youtube accounts together. Obviously I raised my head above the ramparts by doing this and I’ve been consequently punished for it. There’s no way for me to appeal the ruling or to try and discuss the issue with them.

Curious about Youtube’s policies I followed a few links and ended up on the “General Policy Enforcement” page where they talk about adding age restrictions to videos. It discusses the idea of what Youtube considers to be “sexually suggestive”:

Videos featuring sexually explicit content, such as real sex acts, are not allowed. Other content, such as nudity and dramatised or implied sexual conduct, may be considered sexually suggestive, depending on whether or not it is intended or designed to arouse viewers. Nudity includes exposed or partially covered genitalia, buttocks or breasts, as well as sheer clothing. Videos featuring individuals in minimal or revealing clothing may also be age-restricted if they’re intended to elicit a sexual response.

Additional considerations include a combination of:

Whether breasts, buttocks or genitals (clothed or unclothed) are the focal point* of the video.
Whether the video’s setting is sexually suggestive (e.g. a location generally associated with sexual activity, such as a bed);
Whether the subject is depicted in a pose that is intended to sexually arouse the viewer;
Whether the subject’s actions in the video suggest a willingness to engage in sexual activity (e.g. kissing, provocative dancing, fondling); and
If a subject is minimally clothed, whether the clothing would be acceptable in appropriate public contexts (e.g. swimwear vs. underwear).

* Focal point is determined by factors including the length of time an image appears in the video (fleeting vs. prolonged exposure), especially relative to the overall length of the video, the camera angle and focus, the relative clarity of the images in the video, the lighting and the video thumbnail (content that appears in a thumbnail is also considered to be its focal point).

So. Kissing. The bed. The willingness to engage in sexual activity (thought crime!). The filmmaker’s evil intent to arouse. That’s enough to bring out the big stick on Youtube.

Interestingly, it’s pretty damned easy to find other videos that are WAAAAAY ruder than mine. Since I’ve become a fan of True Blood I thought I’d do a search to see if one of the many and varied sex scenes are on Youtube. Bingo. There’s a plethora of them. Like this compilation or this kinky Exorcist neck-twisting scene from series 3. I found the sex in the dirt scene has been age restricted but not banned.

Then there’s this College Humor video of a “realistic Hollywood sex scene” that’s fairly naughty but is now up to 24 million views.

I’ve also found a wide range of what’s “appropriate” when adding videos to my Sexy Short Films site. One of my favourite erotic films called Aprop is still up on Youtube and it’s got rather a lot of sexual suggestiveness and nudity. But it’s in black and white and it’s artistic so that makes it OK.

So really, what’s happened here is not that my video was too sexy or graphic. It’s just that it was a trailer for something that Youtube doesn’t approve of – a film about sex that also appears on an adult site. So far the rules are: Sexy HBO series: Yes. Arty lesbian images: Yes. Glimpse of an independently made doco about sex: No.

In any case, I won’t be uploading it again. It’s made me wonder what else might trigger the ban button. The application of the guidelines are all over the place so it’s all very hit and miss. Vimeo seems far more grown up about what can be uploaded so I’ll use that from now on. And I’ll still be only using very tame footage.

By the way, filmmaker Tony Comstock has already been here, done that.

3 Replies to “I’ve Been Censored By Youtube”

  1. I haven’t been on YouTube since October of last year. I have no plans to go back on, esp. that I heard about what they did to your documentary.

    I hope that you will consider going on Dailymotion and try putting the trailer up on there.

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