The YouTube Christmas cryptocurrency purge seems to have ended. The streaming video mega-site backed down, apologizing for what a spokesperson on Dec. 27 called an “error.”
More than two dozen YouTube channels focused on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were shut down beginning on Dec. 23. No reason was given, other than “harmful or dangerous content.”
Now crypto content creators are looking for decentralized video platforms that with the blockchain-based permanence of Bitcoin.
In addition to removing video, creators were given “strikes” which come with increasing penalties. Like in baseball, three strikes means you’re out—banned from YouTube permanently if your channel racks up that many in 90 days.
“This is really scary,” Alex Saunders, CEO of education-focused Nuggets News, tweeted at the @TeamYouTube Twitter Account in the early morning hours of Dec. 26. “We’ve hired new staff. I have a wife & baby to support. I can’t fix the problem if I don’t know what I’ve done or who to communicate with!?”
Dunn with YouTube
News of the YouTube Christmas cryptocurrency purge began with a tweet by Chris Dunn, a venture partner at NextGen Venture Partners whose 10-year-old Chris Dunn TV YouTube channel has been posting videos about bitcoin and cryptocurrency for at least six years. It has 211,000 subscribers and millions of views.
While news of YouTube restoring cryptocurrency videos began on Dec. 26, Dunn’s videos were not fully restored until late in the process, at around 4:45 P.M. ET on Dec. 27. Until then there were fewer than a dozen cryptocurrency videos on his site.
But by then, Dunn had had enough. On a video titled, “Goodbye YouTube – Let’s Unite Against Censorship,” Dunn announced his intention to leave the streaming video platform for an as-yet-unchosen decentralized video host.
Dunn’s video pointed out that some of the videos taken down dated to 2013. These were part of a Bitcoin Basics series that included topics like how to use bitcoin wallets.
Practice what you preach
“[T]his is a wake-up call to the crypto community to really see the value of decentralizing the web,” tweeted Dunn. “YouTube has shown us in recent times—and not just on crypto channels but many other niches—that this is not a place for open and free thought.”
Moving off YouTube to a decentralized platform was a common theme in the Twitter storm that took place over the four days. So was the complaint that YouTube was not trying to target the genuine scam videos.
“This is a good example of a short term setback, but probably good in the long term,” tweeted Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, CEO of the Binance cryptocurrency exchange. “Will let new platforms emerge with better freedom. People will create content and post them elsewhere.”
Dunn came to the same conclusion, saying that with many decentralized video hosting platforms popping up, it was time for the cryptocurrency to get together, choose one, and migrate.
Too big to communicate
“I can’t be mad at YouTube for going in this direction,” Dunn said. “They’re owned by Google, [which] is a publicly traded company with the goal of maximizing shareholder profits. Google is not interested in creating some open and free place to share information.”
What it does want, he said, was a Netflix-style site with “carefully curated content” that is advertiser-friendly.
What Dunn was angry about was the silence from YouTube as the takedowns were happening, and the insulting boilerplate language used in the takedown notices. These said nothing other than that “harmful and dangerous content” was behind the takedown and strikes.
“YouTube, shame on you for not communicating with anyone,” said Dunn. “It’s one thing if you don’t want us on your platform, but at least don’t say ‘harmful and dangerous content’ for objective and simple information.”