YouTube Makes it Harder to See if Your Favorite Creator is Making Money




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YouTube removed a snippet of code that disclosed whether a channel receives ad revenue and subscription payouts, according to Wired. The code showed which creators benefit most from the platform’s Partner Program, which YouTube stealthily eliminated around November 17.

The code was added sometime in June 2021 and included a flag showing “true” or “false” for “is_monetization_enabled.” By eliminating the code, creators can no longer keep track of their competitors. Additionally, researchers and journalists who rely on this to keep tabs on YouTube’s Partner Program are cut off from valuable information. Wired said this would make it more challenging to track a channel’s status, citing the incident of U.K. comedian Russell Brand, whose account was suspended after allegations of abuse. 

YouTube was not available for comment, but a spokesperson told Wired the platform “constantly makes updates to improve the privacy of creators and viewers” and intends to keep who’s earning ad revenue private.

Ad revenue status was never displayed on a channel’s page but could be found in the code. Several extensions were available to detect it, but now all those are worthless as there is no code to scan for. A Google Chrome extension called Is This Channel Monetized launched in November of 2022 and would track this small piece of code. Now that it’s been removed, those who have this installed can no longer determine if a channel is monetized with this method. 

A U.S. corporate responsibility advocacy group called Ekō traced the code to conduct investigations and flag dubious channels receiving revenue from YouTube, such as anti-LGBTQ content

“I would have to believe that YouTube took out the source code after many civil society groups were using them to corroborate that YouTube was monetizing some of the worst disinformation on the internet,” Maen Hammad of Ekō told Wired

While YouTube added ads to most videos not in the Partner Program in 2020, not all channels receive compensation from those ads. This is reserved for those in the Partner Program, and those enrolled get up to 55% of ad revenue and a cut of subscription sales to more than 2 million creators who meet the requirements. Participants split the ad revenue with YouTube, which pockets 100% of the profits from ads run on unsponsored channels.

Instead, those who want to know a channel’s income will need to study clues such as subscriber figures and ads on videos or use tools like Super Thanks to deduce if a channel is monetized through YouTube’s Partner Program.

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