September 21, 2017

YouTube terminated my account – Take 2

I have had my YouTube account that was terminated, reinstated.

Just like that.

I got an email from YouTube that said:

Hi there,

After a review of your account, we have confirmed that your YouTube account is not in violation of our Terms of Service. As such, we have unsuspended your account. This means your account is once again active and operational.

If you forgot your password, please visit this link to reset it:

[link removed by me for privacy reasons]

Sincerely,
The YouTube Team

No other explanation.

I’ve had several other people, with very similar stories about getting terminated, contact me, pleading to know how I got my account back. Unfortunately I can’t answer that. I don’t know why it was terminated, nor do I know why it was reinstated other than what the email above says.

What I do know is that I persisted in contacting YouTube through every means of online contact I could find. I submitted those forms over and over again and I got robo-replies over and over again. Did my persistence finally get the attention of someone? I don’t know. All I do know is that my account, and all my videos, mysteriously appeared again.

I went through all my videos that had Amazon affiliate links in them and removed those links. Let me be clear, I’m not even certain, nor has YouTube made it explicitly clear that having Amazon affiliate links in your video description is even a violation of community guidelines.

I know people that are still getting their accounts terminated. If you believe what you read by the “experts” in the YouTube forums, they are saying that it is the affiliate links that is the violation. If that is true, then why did YouTube reinstate my account? I had Amazon affiliate links in some of my videos. In thehe email that YouTube sent me, it was plainly stated that my account was not in violation and had been unsuspended.

So nobody really knows and YouTube isn’t talking.

If you’re among the terminated, don’t give up hope. Keep trying. It took 4 weeks, almost to the day, for my account to be un-suspended. I’m thankful that I got my channel back. I wish YouTube could be more transparent.

YouTube terminated my account.

I was having a fantastic day yesterday (Feb 4, 2012.) I had just uploaded a video review of a newly acquired Skytex Skypad Alpha2 7-inch Android Tablet to my YouTube channel–cnymike–and shortly after that I responded to several questions and comments that subscribers to my channel had published. Just another normal day for me, doing what I love to do and enjoying the social apsects of my YouTube channel as well as enjoying being a “Partner” with YouTube.

A few of my reviews had tens-of-thousands of views with spirited comments, lots of “thumbs up” counts and overall good feedback. I have to disclose that I am also an avid Top-25 product reviewer on Amazon, having reviewed over 302 products with an overall helpful rating of 95%.

I take my product reviewing very seriously. I am balanced in my reviews, pragmatic and sensible. I would never knowingly post a product review, or any video for that matter that was in poor taste or anything of objectionable content including nudity, profanity, slanderous statements or anything generally considered to be offensive or in poor taste.

So then, it was with great shock that I received an email with the subject “YouTube Video Notification.” It came in Saturday, February 4, 2012 at precisely 9:31 PM. I had not noticed the email sitting in my inbox at first because I was distracted by the fact that I could not get new mail from my Gmail account. Outlook kept popping up a dialog box saying that my login information was incorrect and it could not retrieve my email from Gmail. This was odd because I had been checking my email all day long with no issues and to my knowledge, I had done nothing that would have affected my login credentials. It was then that I realized something had gone terribly wrong. When I attempted to login to my YouTube account, I was confronted with a disturbing message that said…

Unable to access a Google product
If you’ve been redirected to this page from a particular product, it means that your access to this product has been suspended. Read on for more information.
Your access to this Google product has been suspended because of a perceived violation of either the Google Terms of Service or product-specific Terms of Service. For specific product guidelines, please visit the homepage of each Google product you’re interested in for a link to its Terms of Service.

Google reserves the right to:

Disable an account for investigation.
Suspend a Google Account user from accessing a particular product or the entire Google Accounts system, if the Terms of Service or product-specific policies are violated.
Terminate an account at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.

I was in shock. What had I done? How could this happen? I had no advance notice, no warning, no nothing. All of a sudden an innocent review I had done was flagged as inappropriate. It was, “Review of ICON Rogue 1 LED Flashlight” and it was flagged as being inappropriate and in violation of Community Guidelines. No specific reason was given however. And I can’t think of any reason it could be in violation of anything.

The email from YouTube continued to say that my account has received one Community Guidelines warning strikes, which will expire in six months. It went on to say that Additional violations may result in the temporary disabling of my ability to post content to YouTube and/or the permanent termination of my account.

What is most baffling is the apparent, immediate termination of my YouTube account. There was no other video that was flagged as far as I know, nor was there any reason for any of my videos to be flagged. And no explanation from YouTube to help me gain an insight how they could come down on me with such forcefulness for something I wasn’t even given the opportunity to know about or be able to correct.

BAM! Account Terminated. End of Story!

It’s like having a best friend, someone you just spent the afternoon with having a good time, grabbing a cup of coffee, talking. Then in the evening when you try to call your friend, the phone of your friend has been disconnected and a recording says, “Your friend no longer likes you and you have been permanently banned from ever calling him again.” No warning, no idea of what you said or did to deserve being treated like you did something incredibly inexcusable, malicious or malevolent.

Of course, I immediately began Googling for more information on this account termination and found other people discussing it. In particular I found this video blog post at “Marketing Online Today” website. The tale being told there was eerily similar to mine.

Checking Twitter yielded more tweets of people discovering an ever growing number of YouTube channels being terminated.

My recourse is limited. I did follow a couple links on YouTube that eventually got me to the Partner Network page where an online form was available to contest the decision to terminate my account, but I’ve gotten no response from that yet. Sadly there do not seem to be many more options available to me.

When I realize that several years of dedicated hard work, creativity and artful posting of videos including many nature videos have instantly disappeared from YouTube due to the termination of my account, it saddens me greatly.

The only thing I can think of as a possibility to explain this is that perhaps my account got hacked. If this actually happened, then maybe the perpetrator altered my video review in some way. That is about the only scenario I can think of that would result in a video of mine being flagged as inappropriate in some way. Otherwise, I know what the video was that I uploaded to YouTube and it was an innocent, straightforward review of an LED flashlight. It’s almost laughable to think that the review could be flagged for anything at all. It had been up on YouTube for well over a year and had already been viewed thousands of times… no complaints from anyone. How is it possible that all of a sudden my flashlight video review is against Community Guidelines?

It was suggested to me that Amazon Affiliate links in a video description are grounds for one-time, immediate termination of accounts. I did use Amazon Affiliate links in some of my video reviews. I did review guidelines and under spam, did not find a clear reference to affiliate links being barred. If it was the Affiliate links that caused my account to be terminated I think I should have at least had an opportunity to remove them–something that I would have done immediately.

YouTube, we were partners. I agreed to abide by your rules when I signed up and I did to be the best of my knowledge. You know, a partnership demands respect from each participant. I don’t feel the respect I gave you was reciprocated. You accused me of something unilaterally and gave me no opportunity to defend myself or simply remove the material that you deemed in violation of your guidelines. That’s no partnership.

I would do whatever it takes to get my channel back. My subscribers have been cutoff. You have severed an important social link that I had with all the people that respected my viewpoints, appreciated the time and effort I put into my reviews and engaged in conversation about my reviews by asking further questions or expressing their gratitude.

I’m disappointed more than these words can possibly convey.

Don’t you at least owe me an explanation and a chance for redemption?

UPDATE: Feb. 6, 2012 – I’ve made 6 attempts to reach someone at Google/YouTube. I used their online form for YouTube Partners and also used a link that alerts them that I am requesting a review of their decision. Complete silence on the other end.

Code of Conduct

Preface

“Don’t be evil.” Googlers generally apply those words to how we serve our users. But “Don’t be evil” is much more than that. Yes, it’s about providing our users unbiased access to information, focusing on their needs and giving them the best products and services that we can. But it’s also about doing the right thing more generally — following the law, acting honorably and treating each other with respect.

UPDATE: I do have an update to this issue:
http://tech.michaelerb.net/uncategorized/youtube-terminated-my-account-take-2/

Can I interest you in 16MB of RAM for $257.00?

I had a reality check earlier today while I was looking through my Quicken registers. I came across some old transactions for RAM, Hard Drives and other assorted equipment that I had bought in years past. It was quite an eye-opening experience. What I paid 15 years ago for memory and storage space was absolutely outrageous by today’s standards. Try these on for size….

March 1996: 16MB RAM cost me $257.00
May 1997: 48MB RAM cost me $358.00
August 1999: 64MB RAM cost me $120.00
November 2004: 1 GB RAM cost me $220.99

On June 20, 2000 I purchased an 18GB Hitachi hard drive for $215.00. Just a few weeks ago I bought a 2TB external HD for $97.19.

I know that anyone who has been buying computer stuff for 15 years or more will have similar remembrances, but it’s not always something we think about unless we’re prompted by an old receipt or something.

Just thought I’d share my “expensive” purchases. I’m kind of glad I don’t have access to my Quicken receipts prior to 1996 because looking at prices earlier than that would be really upsetting. In 1982 I remember buying a 64K RAM module for my Timex-Sinclair ZX81 computer. I think it cost about $49.95… for 64K! The computer itself cost about $149 as I recall. Ah, the good ‘ol days. Let’s see, about the same time as the ZX81, I had a Texas Instruments Ti-99/4a and that was followed closely by a Commodore Vic20 and then a Commodore 64. Then about 1989 I bought my first Mac, an SE/30.

Do you have any fond memories?

Automatically update the copyright year in your footer

If you work on many websites it doesn’t take long before you realize how many of them have out of date copyright dates in the footer. Back in the good old days when sites were hand-coded and php was seldom used, copyright dates were hard-coded along with just about everything else.

It’s so easy to fix that problem and I”m going to show you how simple it is. You don’t need to know anything about php either. All you have to do is drop this little piece of php code into your footer and it will take care of the annual updating of the year for you. No more batch search and replace operations to replace 82 pages of out of date copyright years. Yay!

So let’s say your current footer looks something like this…

<p id="footer">copyright © 1998 by My Big Old Company, Inc</p>

To put that copyright year on auto-pilot, simply drop this bit of code in there and sit back and relax.

<p id="footer">copyright © <?php echo date('Y'); ?> by My Big Old Company Inc</p>

If your copyright is a range of years, like 2001-2011, just add the snippet after the dash of the first year like this…

<p id="footer">copyright © 2001-<?php echo date('Y'); ?> by My Big Old Company, Inc</p>

I don’t know much about PHP but I do know how to add that little bit of code and it takes away a big nuisance that used to occur every year. You can learn more about PHP and the date function by visiting PHP.net