9 days ago I got an email from Youtube saying that my Male Gaze In Porn video had been flagged. It said:
Upon review, we have determined that the following video(s) contain content in violation of these guidelines, and have been disabled… This is the second Community Guidelines warning sanction that your account has received within six months. Accordingly, the ability to access this account has been disabled and will not return until two weeks after you acknowledge this message. Please review the YouTube Community Guidelines and refrain from further violations, which may result in the termination of your account(s).
When I uploaded the Doge video (
you can see it at Vimeo)(vid is now here), I wasn’t sure if I should. It did contain images of porn but they were censored and used in an illustrative context. In theory, that video fits with Youtube guidelines for nudity and sexual content:
A video that contains nudity or other sexual content may be allowed if the primary purpose is educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic, and it isn’t gratuitously graphic. For example, a documentary on breast cancer would be appropriate, but posting clips out of context from the same documentary might not be. Remember that providing context in the title and description will help us and your viewers determine the primary purpose of the video.
My purpose with that video was education and artistic i.e. it was designed to make people laugh while I educated them about the male gaze in porn. I added a content warning to the video just in case.
Obviously this wasn’t enough for whoever flagged the video and whoever reviewed it was equally squeamish (and had no sense of humour). It’s my second strike because a few months ago I uploaded my Top 5 Porn Movies For Women video, which contained censored snippets of erotic films. I would also argue that that video was educational and artistic.
The problem I’m having at the moment is the extremely opaque process of being banned from Youtube. Specifically, I have no idea if the whole account has been terminated completely or if it’s a temporary ban. All my embedded videos show the above comment. I can’t login to the account to submit an appeal.
The email gave no indication as to how I could “acknowledge the message”. Any links I followed left me going in circles, trying to find someone – anyone – to discuss the issue with. The various help pages within Google/Youtube don’t offer much to go on. This page leads to a form where I put in my email… and got 2 conflicting responses as to the state of the account.
Worse, this account is my IndigoLush.com Youtube account which I set up several years ago, before Google completely bastardized their signup system. It used to exist as a little standalone account. Now, I have no idea if I’ll be able to re-login to it because of the way Google insists everything be meshed together into one Gmail/GooglePlus/Youtube/Godzilla account.
I don’t want to lose this account because I’ve got several documentaries on there about the Berlin PFF and the Feminist Porn Awards and they have a lot of views. It shits me that those videos are currently non-existent.
I know that I don’t have to have a Youtube account at all. This was discussed in my post about being censored by Vimeo. I understand I’m making use of a free service and I should play by their rules. But, firstly, I thought I was playing by the rules. And, secondly, Youtube is owned by Google and it provides a lot of traffic. It’s also so huge that it could be argued it’s something of a public space on the internet. It dominates in search results and it’s kind of compulsory to have an account there in order to do business online.
This kind of censorship and obfuscation by Google is indicative of a wider problem on the internet, where spaces for free sexual expression are being squeezed out. Google now deliberately hides porn sites in results. It’s harder to get my films out to an interested audience because people just can’t find them. It’s frustrating.
I will be appealing this suspension, simply because I might as well hassle Youtube/Google about their arbitrary sexual and nudity guidelines and maybe get some kind of answer from them. It will probably be as weaselly and “I know it when I see it” as Vimeo’s response, but it’s nice to have it on record somewhere.
Edit 26th Feburary: It’s been over 2 weeks and my account hasn’t been restored. I’ve put my email address in 3 times and get the response that an appeal is pending. There’s no other way to contact Google or Youtube about this. I attempted to login with the password I have for that account and ended up with a second Gmail/G+ based account with no videos in it. It looks like I’ve completely lost this account, which shits me because my documentaries about the Berlin PFF and the Feminist Porn Awards had a lot of views and good ranking. I can’t find anyone to talk to about this. So angry.
Update 20th March. It’s been over 6 weeks and I’ve had no response, despite multiple submissions to the “lost your google account” page. Today I had another go at it and also took my concerns to the Youtube forum, where other sad, terminated souls ask passers-by for help. I say passers-by because, like Google Plus, there doesn’t appear to be anyone actually working for Youtube Help. I’d really like to ask someone which Gmail account my old Youtube accout is associated with, because I can’t remember. But that’s probably not going to happen because I’d need to speak to someone with access to account details. Nobody seems to have that. There is no such thing as Google Help anymore, just a bunch of useless, circle jerk links.
While I’m ranting, has anyone else noticed just how user-unfriendly most of Google’s products have become? Extremely poorly worded instructions, unnecessarily complicated page design and general obfuscation. It’s really frustrating.
Update 20th May. The account is long gone. I’ve had no reply to emails or any help whatsoever. I’m now dealing with Vimeo censorship. At least Vimeo are willing to engage in a proper discussion which is more than I got from Youtube/Google.