U.S. Chemical Safety Board’s YouTube Channel

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has a fascinating YouTube channel where it posts videos describing the chain of events that lead to industrial accidents and disasters. Much like the TV series Air Crash Investigations (also known as Mayday), these offer excellent insight into how technologies fail in general.

Of course, US President Donald Trump plans to eliminate the agency, so watch the videos while you still can.

Erasing Laci Green

Laci Green is a feminist/left wing Internet personality known mostly for her popular YouTube channel. Recently she started dating a right wing YouTube personality, and some of her former supporters lost their minds. Follow the New York Times link if you want more information about the drama there (honestly, you probably don’t).

After this drama, someone on Tumblr began re-circulating an older post about Green succinctly titled “Why Laci Green Sucks.” The post lists a number of examples of Green’s apostasy from far left orthodoxy, including this gem,

(6/5/13) She made a post erasing low-income vegans and vegans of colour, and never responded to any of the criticisms made.

This refers to a Tumblr post that Green made back in 2013 about what she sees as snooty vegans,

Methinks if you want to promote veganism, you go about it by helping to create more affordable food sources instead of basking in your own fucking luxury and yelling at people.

ugh. this is one of the things that really bugs me about where i live. in san francisco there are tons of vegans/vegetarians that get off on feelings of moral superiority. south park had it right in the episode about bay area people loving the smell of their own farts. really, all that “superiority” people feel for being vegan is just a clusterfuck of their own privilege.

like, oh, you only buy your food from the farmers market? you can afford to spend $3 on a peach? good for you, but don’t you dare go shaming other people for not doing the same. until you actually care about how food politics are heavily tied with class (and how class is tied to both race & physical health) and are doing something about that, I don’t see your promotion of veganism as anything beyond pseudo-political masturbation.

Not being a vegan (or all that interested in the topic), I don’t have a very solid opinion about Green’s assertion. I’ve known vegans who were insufferable about their food choices, but I’ve also known enough vegans to realize this is hardly a universal of even necessarily common attitude among vegans (this may be a case of cognitive bias where those of us who aren’t vegans simply remember the annoying vegans and not the non-annoying vegans). But Green is hardly the first person to make an argument about food choices and class structure in America.

But for what might be termed the “regressive left,” that’s not good enough. No. Instead, Green is erasing low-income vegans and “vegans of colour.” (The last part of that is especially confusing given that Green doesn’t mention race at all except as to how it interacts and reinforces class distinctions.)

Accusations of “erasing” this or that group or subgroup seems to be a common trope among the left that has embraced some form of critical theory. Its main purposes seems to be to shut down a speaker or writer without ever having to address their arguments. Is Green right or wrong about how much it costs to be a vegan in San Francisco? That is the wrong question. The real question is whether or not she is “erasing” some subcommunity and therefore outside the realm of acceptable discourse altogether.

These sorts of tactics encourage and reinforce a groupthink that explicitly values uniformity of views over even minor disagreements. It is a 21st century re-enactment of the 20th century Trotskyists. This BBC description of Trotskyism is almost entirely applicable to this Internet cadre of social justice warriors,

They have never had much success in elections, seeming to spend more time fighting each other and splitting into rival factions with confusingly similar names than taking on the powers that be.

The main difference being that those on the regressive left seem to devote their time to infighting and nitpicking rather than actually attempting to solve the often very real problems that initially motivate them. As with the Trotksyists, the underlying issues of (in this case) race and class are merely window dressing for the real work of fighting to become the alpha ideologue.

What Culture Pro Wrestling Hit Hard by YouTube Demonitization

On March 17, 2017 the Times of London ran an article claiming that Google was allowing ad buys on YouTube to run on channels and videos created by or featuring extreme right wing individuals and groups, such as American white supremacist David Duke. A number of large companies quickly pulled all of their ads from YouTube until they received assurances that their ads would not run on such channels/videos.

On March 20, 2017, YouTube responded by announcing new standards for which videos and channels ads would appear. They include,

  • Tougher stance on hate speech: Both creators and advertisers are concerned about hate speech and so are we. To protect the livelihoods of our creators and to strengthen advertiser confidence, we will be implementing broader demonetization policies around videos that are perceived to be hateful or inflammatory. This includes removing ads more effectively from content that is harassing or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender or similar categories.
  • Strengthening advertiser controls for video and display ads: In the coming weeks, we will add new advertiser controls that make it easier for brands to exclude higher risk content and fine-tune where they want their ads to appear.

Those changes quickly led to a bizarre mix of videos being demonitized (no longer eligible for ad placement). For example, channels like Secular Talk, which features commentary on current events from a left-liberal perspective, found itself demonitized because of the topics it covered. Part of the problem is that it becomes difficult with the size of YouTube to distinguish, for example, videos promoting David Duke vs. videos that are straight news coverage or criticism of his 2016 run for the US Senate.

Eventually Secular Talk and other channels like it were allowed to monetize once again, but YouTube and Google have continued their infamous lack of transparency around these sorts of changes. Why a given channel or video is demonitized or monetized is not something that Google is ever going to discuss.

Which brings us to What Culture Pro Wrestling. What Culture Wrestling was a YouTube channel devoted to covering the world of professional wrestling. In between the coverage of actual wrestlers and wrestling promotions, the channel featured news and predictions about the fictional What Culture Pro Wrestling promotion. This attracted such a following, that What Culture launched the WCPW as a legitimate wrestling promotion.

WCPW has been offering regular free weekly matches as well as pay-per-view events since July 2016. It has quickly become a top notch promotion, bringing together regulars from the UK along with some of the best indie wrestlers from around the world.

But today WCPW announced it was canceling all of its future tapings for its weekly free shows. The reason? YouTube has been demonitizing wrestling videos and channels since mid-April.

Effective immediately, our June 9, June 16, June 23, June 30, July 14, July 28, August 4, August 11, and August 18 shows have been pulled from our events pages, and refunds will be issued automatically to anyone who has purchased tickets to these events.

. . .

Owing to a change in their monetisation policy, which has now classified wrestling as “non-advertiser friendly”, it is no longer financially viable for WCPW to produce a weekly free show of the quality our fans deserve.

Since the change the WCPW YouTube channel has seen its advertising income decimated, with our recent match between Alberto El Patron and Rey Mysterio Jr earning only $44 despite receiving over 1,100,000 views. This is a reduction of around 98% in what would have been Loaded’s main source of revenue.

Without that money, it is simply not possible to organise, set-up, manage, produce and edit a free-to-air show on the scale we had intended, and we’ve been left with no choice but to alter our business model. We’re not alone in this either, as other promotions, journalists, and fans have seen their ability to make a living from their content jeopardised entirely by this change.

While we support YouTube in their endeavours to make the site a safer and more tolerant place to visit, we reject entirely the classification of wrestling as a whole as “inappropriate content”. As such, in the coming weeks WCPW will be partnering with other like-minded individuals and organisations to start a campaign aimed at reversing this sweeping change.

I’m not sure which is crazier–that they got more than 1 million views for a match featuring Alberto El Patron, or that the video only earned $44 in ad revenue. Based on their “reduction of…98% claim” that would mean they were earning $4,000-$5,000 on videos like this in the past. To put that in perspective, El Patron and Mysterio’s appearance fees alone were almost certainly much higher than that.

WCPW’s campaign to get YouTube to remonitize wrestling videos may or may not work (and if it does work, it’s not like YouTube will ever be transparent about why).

I suspect it won’t reverse its decision there. A lot of wrestling content on YouTube is stuff that many advertisers would not be comfortable being associated with. The problem with YouTube for advertisers is that it is unpredictable in ways that traditional media aren’t.

If a company is advertising during RAW, for example, it can predict exactly the sort of content that is going to appear and how far WWE is willing to push the envelope (i.e., not very far anymore). Advertise on YouTube and target wrestling channels, and you’re looking at everything from PG-style WWE matches all the way up to matches that feature liberal uses of expletives and even sexual situations (such as matches featuring Joey Ryan who, in the past, has had a sponsorship deal with YouPorn).

The big lesson here is simple: don’t build a business in 2017 that relies on advertising.

Many of the bigger YouTube channels were smart to diversify their income using tools like Patreon and merchandising to get away from being excessively dependent on YouTube ad revenue. Part of the story of the Internet is the complete destruction of industries that relied on advertising revenue. There is no reason to think that this won’t continue.