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Dear YouTube – You Broke My Heart – An Open Letter to @YouTube

Posted By Darren Rowse 12th of June 2011 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

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.


Dear YouTube,

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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I wonder if someone reported you out of spite or something and YouTube suspended the account without any real checks. It seems like it doesn’t matter to them if you’ve had an account a long time or not. Please keep us updated on how this unfolds. At the very least people should be notified before their account is shut down so that something can maybe be fixed.

  2. I’m not seeing any problem at all right now. I can view the video in question as well as all others without issues at all. Looks like they re-instated your account. I’m in the U.S.A. BTW.

  3. gareth says: 06/13/2011 at 5:41 am

    honestly I don’t care, when you use a service you abide by it’s rules. the rules are in place for a reason.
    if you don’t like the rules don’t use the service, maybe this will teach you
    to blindly click “I accept”.

    • I hope you don’t have a mortgage Gareth! If you were not in arrears but your lender came to repossess your home, I suspect you might not be so uncaring.

      Part of the understanding of Terms of Service is that if you don’t violate the rules you won’t have that service terminated.

      To rephrase your comment ‘when you use a service you abide by its rules… and this should be sufficient to contune using the service.’

      But yes, this is a stark reminder to all of us that the internet is a largely feudal system, despite the best efforts of the commons.

    • Gareth,

      What in the hell are you talking about? The whole point is that Darren has NO friggin’ idea what rule he broke, if any!

      Are you for real or are you just trying to bait people into responding to a completely nonsensical post?

    • Renee Malove says: 06/14/2011 at 12:05 am


      Did you read the post, luv? He’s willing to follow the rules, has made a point to do so, and has no idea why or how the rules were violated. May want to look again. Unless you know something we don’t. Is there information on how or why the account was suspended you’d like to share?

  4. I had the same thing happen to me about 4 years ago now. I had about 100 videos uploaded. They just completely banned me and took erased all of my videos. I think I had uploaded a video that contained some baseball game as part of the video. I never received even a warning, just bam…all that work down the drain.

  5. florin says: 06/13/2011 at 5:53 am

    I can see your video ?

    Seriously, I can see your videos…

  6. Hello Darren,

    Good luck with getting your You-tube site back up. I believe everyone who have been affected by situations like this should get together and make plans to confont this monster of attitude and kick butts to the Google Networks.

    We are humans not people who should not be judged and manipulated by robots who have no feelings, no love, and no connection to who we really are.

    I am sick and tire of all of these Google attacks of them messing with people minds, money and creativity.

    I am sick and tire of people caving in to this hate and love relationship.

    Unless people get together and and confront the situation, it’s a here, now, and maybe situation/relationship.

    It is scary that people’s hard workd can be taken away on the flip of a dime or a blink of an eye.

    Many people have built their businesses online which include monetizing with adsense that perhaps we all need to take a look at the whole
    picture. No one have rights anymore even when you take an outside job.
    The money makers don’t care about how hard you work, it’s all about protecting the person with the money.
    My answer to the problem is to collect all of the people who have been unlawfully banned from google
    publish a book on their stories which will include alternatives to that market and send a copy to google-after collecting million stories. It could be a best seller when sold on the market. Call the book, ” The Alternative”.

    If google is not careful, they will go down just like I believe eBay will go down. I have nothing personally against anyone of them because their business do not affect my business that supports my livelihood, and
    so I could care less!

    What I am angry about is that Daren Rouse is one of the best wrters of great information of all times and with
    integrety that Googe don’t have. The robots they program could one day could turn on them, one day and maybe already have by banning the wrong people off of Google.

    And . . . Facebook will continue to thrive-Big times. Why, because they connect to you as a human being in a real world.

    This is my common sense about a senseless situation.

    Thelma Harcum

  7. Noticed this yesterday when I tried to view your video on the home page. Nice way to write to them..hope they respond back immediately and your a/c is activated.

  8. wow…just saw the video is active.

  9. Wow. Bummer.

  10. Leverage is imperative on the web, never put all your eggs, eh videos, in one online basket. With TubeMogul, and the advent of J Player and other white label options, a blogger having her own self-hosted video network isn’t too far away. In the meantime there are companies like Bit Gravity that can stream, host, and optimize videos as well.

    YouTube is relevant for sharing, but one could argue a video shared on Facebook might gain just as much traction as YouTube in this era of social networks.

  11. And he’s back online! :D

  12. Talk to your attorney. Reputation matters, as you know, but there are better ways to deal with being “violated” in such a way. YouTube could use some humbling, IMO, but then, again, can’t we all… ;-)

  13. Hi Darren,

    I’m thinking the Big G has been playing around with something… I got an email this morning to say my Adwords account had been suspended… No reason given. I haven’t even run a campaign for 12 months, so I just don’t get.

  14. Darren, please keep us informed regarding this situation, so that we might be better prepared for similar antics by Google in any future endeavor.

  15. It shows they have the money, the control, the power, and will not hesitate to defend themselves vigorously (it’s always vigorously!) and ruin you in court if you so much as suggest they are doing something wrong which gives them negative publicity. Fortunately they realise the value of keeping someone influential happy is worth more to them than silencing you.

    I believe there is a small team of people suspending accounts at each of these big companies and sometimes some anonymous person is just having a bad day or envious of your success, and decides “I’ll show him”.

    I find it ironic that most people want the money and power that Google/YouTube has, which is why many people focus on the money rather than the thing that makes the money. The most money also comes not from random things for sale, but specifically from premium high value things for sale. That is why Apple with its small product range is worth more than Microsoft.

    Any chance you can put in a good word for a friend on Twitter whose social media business account was accessed and suspended?! :)

  16. I am slightly amused by the irony but a little baffled as to why my comment from earlier seems to have been removed.

    I am sorry that you seem to have found my show of support for your difficult circumstances inappropriate in some way.

    Again, I hope the situation is resolved for you soon but, as this is how my first comment on your site has been treated, I won’t be coming back to find out.

    Best wishes for the future.

    • Stevie says: 06/14/2011 at 4:46 am

      Yeah, same here, but his content is good enough that you should come back anyway. ;)

  17. At the time I am writing this comment, I have checked your “Secrets to Making Money Online” blog entry (from the link you supplied in this article) and the embedded video seems to be working fine now (I’m in the US, in case it’s a regional block).

  18. Ah – that’s all because they’re owned by Google..! That’s exactly how my Adwords account got suspended..! No SMS’s, no tweets, no warning, and no explanation other than a warning that I’d repeatedly violated Adwords’ guidlines.

    It’s the Google school of customer service.

    I hope you find another relationship soon – always remember, there are lots of fish in the sea..! :)



  19. Sorry to hear this. Google recently suspended our company from Adwords for using the term “making money online.” I went back and forth with Google for days explaining to them that the campaign was paused, our budget was zero, and we were not doing anything with those keywords. Google politely asked us not to write them again and seek business somewhere else.

    I am sure it will work out fine for you with YouTube though.

  20. Hi Darren,
    I wonder if there was a competitor who filed a complaint?

    Because like others who have commented here I can’t imagine you being in violation of any policy. You truly are one of the “good guys” and an inspiration to many.


  21. Your channel is back online!
    I guess you’re too famous to be shut down without it becoming bad publicity for them :-)
    But I’m afraid for others it’s much harder or even impossible to make them reconsider.
    They should really send out at least one warning before shutting people down!

  22. Probably there is no thought or malice behind the suspension. A Googlebot with no sense of irony having a bad day. And a post like this may well be a very efficient way to get one’s account reinstated… Nicely done! One does wonder, though, why YouTube didn’t just pull the one “offending” video and issue a warning? A rather overzealous bot… Needs tweaking. They always do, though. Endlessly.

  23. A big and reputable web company (Sitesell) had their Facebook page pulled a week or so ago and managed to get it reinstated within 48hrs.

    Their CEO wrote a similiar open letter requesting it be investigated, and there was no obvious breach, so no apparent reason for the suspension.

    Anyway, it seems those with a bit of online ‘clout’ can get themselves heard and responded to fairly quickly With your high profile and good reputation, I am sure the issue will be quickly resolved.

    Good luck

  24. Wow, this is the second case in last few weeks that really upsets me. Obviously if the big guys are in this risk, what can the rest of us expect.

    The other day Facebook shut down a fan page of a Canadian company with 16.000+ fans for “use of trademark”. And the best part is that another company was using Canadian company’s trademark in their ads. How is that fair??? They got no warning. Once hundreds of people sent e-mails to FB they put the page back up with no explanation, no sorry, nothing.

    What should the rest of us do if this happens to you!?

  25. My account was suspended many years ago too, with the same general reasoning given, did not even have any videos up there yet, and have never been able to get it back unfortunately, and still do not know exactly what I did wrong. Glad to see your YouTube account is active again :)

  26. That’s just crazy and wrong. I feel bad for you. I sure hope they reconsider you and others who this has happened to. Thanks for sharing this open letter with us Darren, I’m glad you still have the blog and can share with us this way. To me, your still who you always were..nothing against you. Great post.

  27. DPStudent says: 06/13/2011 at 5:27 pm

    Hi Darren,

    I have tried today your “Secrets to making money online” video post as i read this article, and for me that video worked (Sweden). The video is like most ofnyour videos, simple informative and useful. I do not see the grounds for suspension based on that video, and i am glad that youtube realized their mistake.

    Keep up the good work

  28. Nice youtube attached a message to one of my private videos indicating that I might be in infringement of music rights – this video has no music sound track & it TOTALLY my own work – what is going on here? & what rule is this then? Hope you are all tweeting this maybe it will wake youtube up – you are never too big to take a fall, just look at the Arab Spring. Power to the little people collectively we have a much bigger voice than these big boys think!

  29. Congrats on getting reinstated Darren. A positive sign that Google does indeed value good content, and can actually correct a wrong decision.

    If you find out how your account managed to get reinstated, if someone contacted someone, or so on, I would love to hear this, as my friends account (Dave Jenyns – TheSEOMethod on Youtube) is still down, with no luck at all from YouTube. Same story as you – great content, and no reason at all that matches up within their TOS.

  30. I hope they find abetter way to treat you, Darren. That is a shabby way to treat anyone.

    In my case they didn’t even give me a chance. I went one day last year to try to upload my first-ever video to You Tube and low and behold, I was banned from even opening an account. I’m a long-time AdSense publisher, long-time AdWords advertiser and in general a big advocate of Google .. but their methods of customer service and responsiveness leave alot to be desired.

    It’s strange that the ‘Net’s largest beneficiary of “making money online” has developed such a “Prissy-Missy” attitude toward anyone else who dares to mention the subject … kind of the “Dog in the Manger” parable come to life in today’s world.

    Sad and disrespectful to long-time supporters.

  31. Technology Sucks :P


  32. Hi Darren, I have a two months old photography blog on Blogspot. Because of photography I happened to find out your DPS blog and have been following it religiously since then. Later some friend advised me to visit Problogger. I felt excited to see that it was also your blog. Everything was working till the day Google blocked my AdSense account because of some reason which was not my fault at all. When I saw this post of yours, I and my friend decided to move my blog from blogspot to wordpress, who knows tomorrow they may block the blog itself! I felt really bad and sad after reading your letter. I hope new and good things will start soon. Good luck.

  33. I’m glad you got reinstated as it’s no fun getting slammed without explanation. I’ve had my Youtube headaches in the past too so I feel for you. Thankfully, it sounds like someone is handling these types of matters quickly of late. :-)
    Have a happy week!

  34. It’s good to hear you were reinstated so quickly, but a bit concerning that the first email stated a 6 month suspension for something so harmless, right? Strange…

  35. Darren:

    The idea that you would ‘violate’ anything or anybody is amusing to me. Just shows how completely impersonal companies such as YouTube can be. I guess if we live by the sword …we die by the sword…

    …but I am glad to see you are alive and kickin’ as well!

    Amy Parmenter
    The ParmFarm

  36. Hi Darren, that’s too bad. Isn’t Youtube should suppose to provide warnings and explanation before banning an account. In any sense, it can affect your reputation and that is really unfair for you as you value well your reputation. Your open letter to Youtube was absolutely true. May this be a lesson to Youtube. On the other hand, I am happy that your account is now active.

  37. Glad to see your Tube channel back Darren!!

  38. Darren,

    I love your post – sarcastic, witty and not scathing but it gets the point. I’m in a new position at work related to credit and collections. The single most important thing we are trying to do is to NOT send out a standard message for when someone’s account gets disconnected, suspended etc. In your case, possibly poor judgment from YouTube if this is their standardized message.

    I mean not everyone is a “bastard” deliberately trying to violate policy – some investigation or a a much more “friendlier” statement could have sufficed, while they were investigating it. Also, communication is key. You are everywhere. Seriously, they couldn’t send you a note or an email. Maybe you were in violation of something (you didn’t know it) then you could look at the problem and collaboratively come to a solution.

    One of the biggest challenges in this digital environment is that there are no account managers that you know by name that you can call up and say WTH?!?

    Anyways, glad to see you are up and running. I’m still trying to get the courage to put the youtube of myself up. Maybe because I’m six months pregnant, not sure but keep on encouraging.

    Yours Truly,

    Heather Buen

  39. So to show you that no one is immune to things like this. The problem is that such things do happen and when it does, depending on “each” case, you might or might not get reinstated. Darren has a driving force of users that helped, but small players don’t. Not knowing what happened and why it did, is probably the worst as when something like this happens, one does not know what to do next. A bit of an early warning could suffice, I guess.

    Smaller players may never see the light of day, and this is why I always recommend to backup your videos and store it in a safe place. even on free storage sites which are now all over the place. Never know when you might need them.

  40. Darren,

    Glad you got this resolved, or that it resolved itself, quickly. Well, it’s not really resolved because you don’t know what the reasoning was.

    It’s quite possible it was a Google algorithm with keywords that triggered the suspension and wasn’t anything personal. You know, something like the inverse log of the square root of keywords plus length, squared, divided by the sum of thumbs down and clicks.

    Hope you can find out why so it doesn’t happen again because we know that being on YouTube is good.


  41. J.Adamson says: 06/14/2011 at 1:34 am

    Just wanting to give David Jenyns support as he’s been very good to me on the net & offerred advice & is very willing to help me in my web pages when there up, he’s is very knowledgeable, confident, & displays good conduct in all the videos that I have seen of his, Ifind that his removeal from u-tube unfair, he doesn’t strike me as a fello who would deliberately do the wrong thing in his videos, with all his business knowledge there’s no room for deceite.

  42. Since it’s their service, I guess they can do what they want. But it seems to me that there is a severe lack of oversight on the part of whomever is in charge of account terminations.

    Just to shut down a five year old account, one that is approved in the YouTube Adsense program, and I’m assuming that gets significant views because of one keyword phrase that is on their “watch list” is ridiculous.

    When a company gets too big to manage their service effectively, that is when the door is wide open for a competitor to step in. Google may have the monopoly now, but more high handed and totalitarian actions like this and it may just tick people off enough that they switch from all things Google.

  43. I suspect you simply tripped one of Google’s automatic filters that decided your video was spam, probably due to the high number of videos with similar names that actually are spam. All in all, no harm done as you got your account back fairly quickly, but I am sure this caused you some serious inconvenience. At least Google was able to reinstate you with minimal hassle/downtime.

  44. Glad it got resolved. The things that annoy Google can be so mysterious. It would really help if they’d share more information when they hand out a suspension and give a little time to respond.

  45. YouTube has deleted 4 other previous channels of mine without warning over the years. Man, the history, views, ratings, VSEO for top keywords all gone in one fellow swoop. Like nothing ever existing. Years of hard work… gone! Nothing like a $10,000 / month pay-cut overnight.

    You’re lucky you got an answer as to why you were suspended. I never received one. Many of the videos were totally value driven, too. They were awesome how-to stuff.

    Glad you got your account re-instated, Darren. It sucks for the little guy that has had the same thing happen. I thought of getting an attorney to send them a letter. Google and YouTube’s customer service is non-existent.

  46. YouTube Terminating- Make Money Online Accounts. As you probably heard this weekend, YouTube terminated thousands of Make Money Online Accounts.

    Here is my take on this: As Internet Marketers we need Youtube for the traffic it generates to our sites, and to those of our clients. Youtube has become an indispensible part in all traffic generation strategies. The other Video sharing sites don’t even rank close to Youtube when it comes to page views and potential traffic funneling to our web properties.

    I don’t think we, as Internet Marketers should take YouTube’s DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACK (Yes, I call it a denial of service) on our channels lightly.

    We, “The Make Money On The Internet” crowd play a huge part in the training, coaching and education of people who ultimately become key customers for the top 10 Companies on the Internet.We “The Make Money On The Internet” crowd teach people how to make money on eBay. We teach people how to make money on Google. We teach people how to make money on Facebook. We teach people how to make money on Youtube. And Yes, We teach people how to make money on the Internet.

    We are directly responsible for the billions of capital that goes to the top Internet and Tech companies on the NYSE and the NasDaq. Yes, I am freakin mad! It is people like you me and the millions of other entrepreneurs who got Youtube, Google, Facebook, EBay, Yahoo, Amazon where they are today.

    We, the small time entrepreneurs are responsible for the Billions of dollars that they make. We are the driving force behind their rising stocks. We! We! We! Not corporate America!

    I am totally Freakin Pissed.

  47. it really dosn’t seem fair that they can just un plug you like that

  48. So Google seem to have put in a 1990’s-era spamcop keyword filter on video tagging?! Just great. I’d be inclined to see this as a momentary glitch if it weren’t for the fact that they will probably be ramping the adverstising up to horrendous levels and if you were prepared to pay £5 a click on “make money online” or whatever, they’d be best pals.

  49. I am not in the Making Money Online Business at all.
    But I think this is a warning to all of us, who rely on Google Services.

    Many of us use Google services because it’s so handy, free of charge, …

    But from one moment to the next ist can be gone …

    I do now consider using Amazon S3. If not instead, at least additional.

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