Today I was ‘suspended’ from YouTube with no warning and no explanation of why. Where my videos once appeared on this site a message appears that tarnishes my reputation. As a result I’ve followed the procedure to ask for reconsideration that YouTube give and have written this open letter to YouTube.
Update: about 12 hours after posting this post I woke up to find my YouTube account has been reactivated. I’m yet to hear anything official from YouTube explaining what happened – will update it when/if I hear anything.
I know breaking up can be difficult – but it’s generally acceptable to let the other person know!
Our romance has been long – it began years back (my birthday in 2006 if I recollect correctly) when I summonsed the courage to post a little video of myself on you and then posted it on my blog. I wondered at this amazing new technology that enabled ordinary people to have their voice, face… and life broadcast around the world and began to write to my readers that they should explore the technology too.
At first I thought the relationship was just a one way thing – unrequited love, a school boy crush that would never be returned…. however all that changed when you emailed to ask if we could go to the next level – you suggested we ‘tie the knot’ and have me put your ads on my videos so that together we could make a little money.
I was over the moon – you obviously valued what I was doing, perhaps we had a future.
But today it all came crashing down.
As I sat on a train, heading to the football with my boy, checking my Twitter stream a message came through from a friend that my videos were no longer being served and that my account had been suspended.
I didn’t believe it at first – we’ve been together so long. Perhaps I’d taken you for granted but I didn’t believe you’d break up with me without even some warning signs that you were not happy.
I tried to log in to my account and sadly it was true – I’m locked out of our little home together.
What’s worse – there’s not even a note of explanation – just a bizarre impersonal and very general note that I’m perceived to be in violation of some term of service and a spot where I can add my email address and ask you to reconsider (with not even a place for me to ask why this is happening).
When did this happen? To be honest I’m not sure. I found out today but it could have been at least a few days ago that you locked the door. You didn’t call, email, SMS, Tweet…. I had to hear it from a friend – and nobody seems to know why.
OK – so you’ve broken up with me – I can deal with that and as I know I’ve not done anything to deserve it I’m still hoping we can work it out and that you’ll look at it again and perhaps even give me a chance to clear up any confusion. You give a way for me to ask you to look into it again and I hope you will but what really makes me sad is that while you admit to me that you just ‘perceive’ I’ve done something wrong you’re telling the world something quite different.
When I (and my readers) look at the videos on my site and hit the play button I (and my readers) are greeted with a little note on the video that proclaims to the world that the video “has been removed as a violation of YouTube’s policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content.“
Your little note ‘sorry about that‘ at the end of your declaration and the cute little face next to it only dig the knife in deeper.
In other places it says “darrenrowse has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of our Community Guidelines.”
There’s no mention that I’m ‘perceived‘ to have broken your terms of service and that you’re looking into it – just a declaration to those who’ve come to trust me after many years of hard work that I have violated your policy against things that I detest and which I have campaigned against.
That doesn’t seem like you’re playing fair.
You see those who see that message trust you – they know you – they take what you say as ultimate truth… so for you to tell them that hurts – both me and my reputation.
YouTube – I’m not sure what to say. I understand you need to have policies and procedures and that you no doubt do have to deal with spammers and scammers – but as someone who has worked hard to play by the rules and teach others to do the same I’m a little taken a back.
I do hope that you’ll reconsider our relationship – I’d love to snuggle again – (if I’ve done something wrong I’m only too happy to rectify it and/or explain – I can’t think what it would be) – but more than that I hope that you’ll reconsider the way that you break up with those who love you because when I tweeted this out I had quite a few others share similar experiences.
Heart brokenly yours
Darren Rowse (formerly darrenrowse on YouTube)
PS: if you’re unsure about me, perhaps you should talk to your cousin – AdSense. OK, so we’ve been romantic too (and I once wrote them a similar letter too) but they also once even posted a video about me on… YouTube where they promote me as someone they trust to teach others how to use them.
Update: I’ve just spent some time digging in my spam filters and found an email from Youtube from earlier today saying that they suspended my account for 6 months. It says it was for a single video (my last one titled ‘secrets to making money online‘ (you can read the transcript on that link) but doesn’t give any specific reason. I’m not sure what the problem with the video is (it makes no promises and promotes nothing) or why a problem with one video would trigger an account wide suspension, why they wouldn’t just delete the video and/or ask me to make changes.
I’ve also heard from another YouTube user who also got suspended today for a similar topic video and we’re wondering if some keywords in the video description might have triggered this (despite the content on the video being fairly harmless in my opinion). Hoping it might be that simple.