Melvin Taylor, Brand Marketer
From removing advertisements from videos, taking a 30 percent cut from money donated to YouTubers and now giving any donations with offensive messages to charity, video sharing site YouTube is constantly changing. Oct. 20, 2018, YouTuber Daniel Keem, aka Keemstar, tweeted importation information regarding YouTube’s Super Chat feature.
Keem shared a screen shot showing that YouTube has a system set in place that will take revenue earned from offensive Super Chats and give the money to charity. A Super Chat is a feature where fans can give money with a message to a YouTuber who is livestreaming. Some YouTubers have these messages pop up on the livestream and others will read them to their fans. Regardless, the messages are public, and some can be offensive.
This information originally came out in an article by The Guardian posted September 2018. This article discussed how the Super Chat feature has been used to spread hate speech by fans of “alt-right” YouTube Channels. Why was this information not shared heavily by YouTube themselves? YouTube is a job for some people and this update affects the livelihood of live streamers. I understand there are negative messages being spread in live streams, but donating to charity fixes nothing here.
A Super Chat is something that benefits a creator and it should serve that purpose as long as the message being spread is not offensive. Instead of donating the money to charity, I think YouTube should include a warning telling fans with offensive messages that their message will not be shared in the chat, but the donation will still be given. Fans who choose to send offensive messages should also be banned from giving Super Chats or banned from YouTube forever. This would make the company take a bigger stance on the issue because YouTube earns money from the Super Chats. By doing this, YouTube would show they do not want the money of racist, sexist and overall negative people.
YouTuber Richard Masucci, aka ReviewTechUSA, released a video on the Super Chat situation and talked about how YouTube should inform fans their donations would go to charity if they were offensive. He also mentioned there should be a warning for triggering words in donations. He noted that some of the Super Chats he receives are inappropriate and people will send offensive Super Chats as long as the creator gets the chance to see them. While The Guardian related the Super Chat issue to “alt-right” YouTube channels, Masucci thinks this is an issue for all channels. I agree with a lot of what Masucci had to say because people will harass each other no matter what, even if they must use their own money to do so.
For the channels that have appropriate content and run into the Super Chat issue, I think YouTube is robbing them of their money. Donating to charity is fine, but this is stealing. YouTube has said nothing about not displaying negative Super Chats like I proposed earlier. This tells me the Super Chats displaying are not a problem for YouTube. It should be a major problem for them. If they care so much about the negative things people have to say on their website, the company should take a firm stance and tell them they do not want their money or ban them. If YouTube wants to donate money to charity, they should use their own money and not take money given to creators. As a fan of a lot of YouTube channels, I would want my money to go to the channel or just be given back to me. I did not sign up to give to charity and should not be forced into doing so.
YouTube is always changing. Back in 2017, advertisers boycotted the platform and caused many channels to lose advertisement features on their videos. Advertisers returned to YouTube, but the issue is still present. I have noticed some channels censoring any swear words in their videos and others have left the platform altogether. YouTube has always taken a 30 percent cut from Super Chats, leading channels to use Streamlabs, a site which does not take cuts from donations.
YouTube has changed their website a lot in the past when they did not need to. I do not think this is one of those times. Channels spreading hateful content or having fans who spread it via Super Chat are a problem. But like Masucci, I fear this will not be limited to the “alt-right” channels. Every time YouTube makes a change to stop a few bad channels, it ends up causing problems for everyone. YouTube has had offensive content on their website for years, but things suddenly changed in 2017. Why did advertisers boycott the site then, but not in the past? As I noted above, the effects of this situation are still present on the website. It can be hard seeing what a joke is and what isn’t when users are online. The Super Chat situation needs a solution, but I do not think charity is the right one.