August 17, 2017

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/

Comments

  1. Mark Anthony says:

    Ha! Ha! that’s funny. Expecting Google to give you a reason.. They have no reason to, they are Google. They own it all and we are at their mercy…

    i should know, i have several websites banned or “De-Listed” for objectionable material. I live in Las Vegas in one instance, I wrote an article about watching Monday night football at the Playboy Club. My photo was of the sign outside the Palms marketing the event. Someone found that to be obscene, flagged my account and Google agreed. . .

    Good Luck. Maybe someone at Google with a heart, may see your emails and respond in kind. There are a few of them at the mother Ship, but getting fewer by the day.

    • Michael R Erb says:

      Mark, yes I fear you are correct. Up until this event, I never really contemplated the reality that we are completely at their mercy. It’s a dictatorship. When they decide to change the rules, that’s it.

      Here is something to chew on, Google’s own Code of Conduct…

      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.

      I really love the words “treating each other with respect” and “doing the right thing.”

      • Yeah. Have you been over to Google and read some of the racist rants that are posted on videos? And I’m talking about all sides. Not just white. Not just black. Not just Hispanic.

        Threats of violence abound on YouTube. I have seen drug deals done in the comments section on YouTube. I have seen minors with guns (illegal) and wads of cash on You/tube screaming ‘Eff the Man!’ And they have been there for years.

        I have been called ‘cracker’ and all other manner or racists terms simply because I would post a viewpoint that someone else did not agree with.

        Yeah. ‘“treating each other with respect” and “doing the right thing.”

        That is until we decide to terminate your account without giving you a reason or the possibility of recourse.

  2. You can do it Michael! BEST OF LUCK! I really hope Youtube discovers the errors of their ways!

    -James Wedmore

    • Michael R Erb says:

      James, I appreciate the support. If YouTube would only give me a chance to right the wrongs, whatever they were, I’d be so grateful. I really don’t want to lose my videos, my subscribers, my social ties that have taken several years to acquire. How are we supposed to learn in this world if we don’t even get a chance to redeem ourselves?

  3. I had a similar thing happen. About 18 vids on youtube. Up there for months. I produced the vids with my own content and had licenses to all images/music.

    Got a notice of one strike. Logged into my account and saw they had killed some vids.They said this was number one and a second one in 6 months would result in account suspension.

    About 45 minutes later, BAM. Another one came in. Now it is two strikes. I go to login I am told the account is suspended for two weeks. It seems like they would have counted all the videos at one time but that was not the case.

    OK. Their platform. Their call.

    I wait two full weeks. Can’t login. Send them a message. Wait three days. I get a canned response stating that the account is now terminated. Get that? I go from account suspension to account termination without even of had logged in to do anything. I did not commit more offenses because I could not login. I could not fix any offenses because I could not login.

    And what really cracked me up was that they said, and I quote:

    ‘Please be aware that you are prohibited from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube accounts.’

    Christ. What are they going to do? Call the YouTube Police on me? How can they possibly think they can stop or prohibit me from doing such a thing? I have my ISP change my IP address and I use a different laptop and gmail address and they have no way to track that.

    The sheer vanity in the claim that they could prevent me from creating another youtube account is staggering.

    I run online businesses. I use adwords, webmaster tools, gmail, analytics and many more offerings. I have done this for years. While my contribution was small I did contribute to the success of Google. I was a loyal consumer of Google products and they kick you to the curb without warning or explanation.

    I will me moving my business revenue from Google to somewhere else. I would advise all business owners not to tie too much up in Google. They are moving away from a sound business model into the realm of internet pc police.

  4. I had one single video on youtube. One single one!!! And they suspended my account… I really don’t get it. The video was done in PhotoBooth and the music was from iMovie. How can this be a copyright violation?

    This sucks. I can only imagine how it feels, when you have hundreds of videos up and your account suddenly gets suspended.

    Bad YouTube. You need to be a little more willing to hear the other side of the story!

    And I never even got one notice that my account was violating anything!

  5. Sheila Hammond says:

    My account just got terminated in a scenario that is almost the same as Mr. Erb’s except that I just began putting up videos yesterday and on the 4th one (an all in one washer-dryer) they notified me that my video was flagged and today my account is terminated. YouTube’s behavior is so anti-American in that there is no recourse and no way to find out what I did “wrong”. I am trying to make money on the internet and this is such a blow – I am so upset and feel so violated and betrayed. Maybe if all of us that have had our accounts terminated band together and pass the word not to use YouTube anymore or anything else from Google so that we begin to break down Google’s death grip on our ability to make money online. Their internet monopoly needs to be broken. I am outraged that Google has no accountability to it’s “loyal’ customers. I have 3 email accounts that I have had for years, but I think I am about ready to dump them. I just dread the task of letting all my contacts know of my new emails.