YouTube and its fleeting glory days

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According to YouTube pioneers, the platform just isn’t what it used to be.

“YouTube relies on creators to differentiate itself from streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, it tells creators it wants to promote their original content, and it hosts conferences dedicated to bettering the creator community. Those same creators often feel abandoned and confused about why their videos are buried in search results, don’t appear on the trending page, or are being quietly demonetized.” – Alex Castro

And Danny and Michael Philippou, better known as the twins from the YouTube channel RackaRacka, are angry about it.

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Danny and Michael Philippou of RackaRacka
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Recently they released a video in which they reenacted Mortal Kombat fatalities (ICYDK, they are extremely brutal and gory killing moves in the aforementioned video game). Shortly after being posted, YouTube declared it violated their content guidelines, leaving the video hidden from users. Meanwhile, other accounts are creating their own copycat versions, where they can all be easily found with a simple search. None of these videos are hidden, despite contravening the same exact violence policy YouTube enforced onto RackaRacka. This naturally directs all the attention and views to these copiers, leaving no recognition for the original artists.

For the twins, this is merely one taxing component of YouTube’s flawed, life-draining business model.

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YouTube heavily relies on advertisers to market their creators in order to make money, and these artists need to create content that is in competition with other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. The flaw in the system, the twins claim, is their continuous use of household names for marketing purposes instead of “creative amateurs” looking for their start.

All of this attention is turned towards the names we see over and over again, such as Logan Paul and Tana Monogeau. Left behind is those working hard to be different in an age where YouTube’s top performers funnel out the same recycled material on a daily basis.

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YouTube used to be a place where young artists could build a platform and make a living off of their content. I remember Smosh, Fred, Jenna Marbles, Shane Dawson, Ray Johnson; users with millions of subscribers that would publish daily/weekly original sketch comedies, commentary and roundups of viral videos.

Now, most of these names are just a memory. Why? YouTube’s interests changed.

In October 2012, their algorithm became more interested in longer length videos as opposed to the amount of views it receives, leaving viral videos like “Charlies Bit My Finger” a thing of the past. And some users capitalized on this method. Take Shane Dawson for example: once a 3-6-minute short comedy sketch creator with a myriad of wacky, eccentric characters, to a producer of multiple television worthy docuseries, some that lengthen over an hour per video.

As time went on, YouTube only furthered prioritized the value of their advertisers. By 2016, their ever-changing algorithm deprived original artists of funds and essentially demonetized their channels.

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Flash forward to 2017, Viners infested YouTube, in hopes of leaching on to a new host. Upon Vine’s demise in January 2017, the 6-second video creators migrated to the other biggest platform in the world to share videos.

Though, instead of original content, Viner-turned-YouTubers, such as the Paul brothers, no longer needed to post good content. Alternatively, they published the most dangerous, stupid shit they could do in order to get views. And it worked.

Come 2018, YouTube is riddled with immense amounts of controversies from their biggest creators, such as antisemitic comments from their then most subscribed content creator, PewDiePie.

Now in 2019, YouTubers, whether forthright or otherwise, recognize the platform’s cultural and algorithmic shift, and know YouTube is no longer their home.

As for what’s next, Michael Philippou of the RackaRacka Twins has a solution:

“We leave. We find somewhere else that wants our videos. That used to be YouTube, but it’s not anymore. And I don’t think it ever will be again.”

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