YouTube Deleted My Viral Video & There is Nothing I Can Do About It

YouTube Deleted My Viral Video & There is Nothing I Can Do About It

A few weeks ago I released a video featuring my friend and fellow photographer Blair Bunting in the backseat of an F16. The video blew up on Reddit (#1 in r/Videos making it to the top 5 of the front page), was featured on Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Daily Mail, Telegraph, CNN, ABC World News with Dianne Sawyer, hundreds of other blogs and even was officially recognized by YouTube. But for reasons still unexplained to me, it has been removed from YouTube and there is nothing I can do about it.

A couple days ago, early in the morning, I received an email from YouTube that stated the following:

Regarding your account: Jaron Schneider

This following video was found in Violation of TOU #4 Section H:

Blair Bunting Flies with the Thunderbirds

http://www.youtube.com/t/terms

"You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, "robots," "spiders," or "offline readers," that accesses the Service in a manner that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period by using a conventional on-line web browser. Notwithstanding the foregoing, YouTube grants the operators of public search engines permission to use spiders to copy materials from the site for the sole purpose of and solely to the extent necessary for creating publicly available searchable indices of the materials, but not caches or archives of such materials. YouTube reserves the right to revoke these exceptions either generally or in specific cases. You agree not to collect or harvest any personally identifiable information, including account names, from the Service, nor to use the communication systems provided by the Service (e.g., comments, email) for any commercial solicitation purposes. You agree not to solicit, for commercial purposes, any users of the Service with respect to their Content."

Violation of the policy above has resulted in the removal and reupload of your video(s). Additional account violations of Terms of Use #4 Section H will result in account suspension. Many users trust outside marketers who claim to increase views, subscribers, likes, etc., but each user is ultimately responsible for the activity on his or her account, as well as for knowing and abiding by YouTube’s Terms of Use. This includes understanding the nature of the traffic on his or her channel and making sure any hired service providers comply with YouTube’s Terms of Use.

For more information about how to appeal the video removal(s), visit this page in the Help Center:

https://support.google.com/youtube/contact/tou_removal_appeal

Please note that deleting the video(s) will not resolve the Terms of Use violation and it will prevent YouTube from reinstating the video(s), even if the appeal(s) would otherwise have been successful. You may also reupload the removed video(s) providing you do not violate YouTube’s Terms of Use.

As a courtesy, we have reuploaded your video(s) here:

Blair Bunting Flies with the Thunderbirds

Please note that the video exists at a new URL. Please also note that all previous views, likes, and comments have been removed.

Sincerely,
The YouTube Team

Youtube is stating that they believe I was purchasing views, likes, comments, etc. to increase the video's supposed reach, or a source I employed did so.

The thing is, I did nothing of the sort. Though I had been approached by a huge number of sources claiming they could get me more reach and money, I ignored all these emails, working only with major trusted sources like Gannett. My only action was to upload the video to YouTube, and embed it in a post on Fstoppers. From there, it did its own thing.

Naturally, I appealed via the link they sent me. The data fields they were asking for seemed strange to me. Many were pointed to asking who I paid to help promote the video, how much I spent, and how much money per year I invest in promoting YouTube videos. Seeing as I did not do, and have not done, anything at all related to financially promoting my videos, I had to leave most of the answers with "N/A."

YouTube responded a day later with the following:

Hi there,
We've reviewed your appeal regarding your video(s) removal and concluded that the decision to remove of your video(s) was justified.

Copies of the removed videos have been reuploaded to your channel (on a new URL as a fresh video without previous views, likes and comments etc.). You can now share these with other YouTube users. However, should your account be found in violation of our Terms of Use #4 Section H again, your account may be suspended without the possibility for appeal.

For your reference, TOU #4 Section H states:

You agree not to use or launch any automated system, including without limitation, "robots," "spiders," or "offline readers," that accesses the Service in a manner that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period by using a conventional on-line web browser. Notwithstanding the foregoing, YouTube grants the operators of public search engines permission to use spiders to copy materials from the site for the sole purpose of and solely to the extent necessary for creating publicly available searchable indices of the materials, but not caches or archives of such materials. YouTube reserves the right to revoke these exceptions either generally or in specific cases. You agree not to collect or harvest any personally identifiable information, including account names, from the Service, nor to use the communication systems provided by the Service (e.g., comments, email) for any commercial solicitation purposes. You agree not to solicit, for commercial purposes, any users of the Service with respect to their Content.

Services that attempt to gain views through automated means or that force or trick viewers into watching videos are not ok. This could be through a variety of means, including, among other things, deceptive layouts on third party websites that trick viewers into playing a video when they click unrelated elements on the page. It might also be serving up embedded videos instead of intended content, serving pop-unders, re-directing and/or a variety of other methods people use to try to inflate viewership.

If you are going to contract someone to help promote your content, it should be someone you absolutely trust, as you may be putting the fate of your channel (and your business on YouTube) in their hands. If they are using methods that aren’t within our terms, you will be the one to pay the price, as it will be your videos and your channel that get taken down. And don’t just take their word for it - ask the tough questions, find out how they promote your content and do your due diligence. Ultimately, you are responsible for knowing and abiding by our terms - this means understanding the nature of the traffic on your channel and making sure you are in compliance with our terms. Ignorance of bad traffic or other actions taken on your behalf may lead to your account being removed from YouTube.

For more information on our Terms of Use, please visit:

http://www.youtube.com/t/terms

Sincerely,
The YouTube Team

YouTube, without telling me even what specifically I was accused of, had found me guilty. I paid no one for distribution. I did nothing to promote my content other than leave it on YouTube. I made no money on this video, but there is nothing I can do here. Sure, the video lives in a new URL location but that, as you can imagine, is as good as killing it. At the time of this article's publication, it has 2 views.

In addition, my account is forever on watch and, if I apparently do this again, I'll lose my license to put anything on YouTube (bearing in mind I have no idea what I actually did to deserve this, and I can't very well avoid doing it if I'm not aware of what it is).

YouTube has ignored repeated requests for specificity into this.

Luckily for me, I didn't promote the YouTube video much at all. I put the Vimeo version on Reddit, and most of the sources who linked or referenced the video pointed to Vimeo. The YouTube version really only received a small fraction of the video's total reach, and most of those views were in Europe. Most of the total hits came directly from my Vimeo or viewed through independent video players (like on DailyMail or Telegraph who were given republishing permission).

What's troubling is that there are quite a few people who make their living on videos for YouTube. Since they refuse to tell me specifically what I'm accused of (outside their vague term of use violation statement), they, to me, removed my video on a baseless accusation that I have no ability to fight. If this had happened to a popular YouTube channel, their livelihood would be in jeopardy.

If I had only uploaded my video to YouTube or promoted the YouTube link more than I did the Vimeo location, nearly all record of the video's success would have been eradicated.

I'm certainly not the first person to have problems with this. There is a discussion on Google Product Forums that shows the exasperation of other users being hit with the same message as I was. Being accused of something you're innocent of, and having no ability to prove that innocence, is an extremely frustrating situation. YouTube, rather than investigate if video owners are actually responsible for the "crime" they are being accused of, would rather just remove the video entirely. This does make sense from a business standpoint, sadly, but it doesn't make the process a good one. It makes legitimate YouTube users feel wronged. YouTube is a platform made powerful by the users. It's unfortunate that we can be treated in such a way with regards to a system that would arguably not be valuable without us.

But think about this: YouTube will ban any video that gets hit with bots or unverified views. So what is to stop anyone from paying a less-than-legitimate company (that is sourced from places like Fiverr) to send hits to a video you just don't like? That video would get removed and it would cost you only a few dollars. It's a massive loophole in the system, and one that very likely was used against me. Do I have any proof? No. And that only makes it more frustrating.

What's funny is earlier I mentioned that YouTube officially recognized the video. That post is still active, but that link, of course, is now dead.


 
It's just not worth it if YouTube can do this to a completely innocent person. Needless to say, I'll be uploading exclusively to my Vimeo Channel from now on. If you want to see my next projects, you should follow me there.
 
Oh, and if you really want to watch the video on YouTube, you can do it on CNN's official channel:
 
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49 Comments

Jon Sharman's picture

Ask for a refund?

That's an exceptionally silly comment to make. It implies the service provided by Google (or any other similar service) is actually free. If you knew anything at all about commodity exchanges you would understand that all the so called "free" services are not in fact free at all. Everyone pays something, it may not be dollarpounds but you still pay with a valuable commodity. Do you honestly think that those companies are that philanthropic?

edit: spelling

Jon Sharman's picture

If you want to jump off your high horse for just a second, I thought that YouTube charged for premium users or something, like Vimeo does. My mistake, but maybe you shouldn't jump down someone's throat next time.

My mistake, I responded to your four word answer in line with what it appeared you were implying. I should really have considered your incisive reply for far longer.

Or perhaps you could not provide replies which are about as good at illustrating your point as the Pamela Anderson sex tape.

Jon Sharman's picture

Actually, you inferred it, I didn't imply it. Now get back in your playpen.

At least now everyone knows what you actually meant... Probably would have been a lot easier if you'd just used more than four words to begin with though. I guess I'll return to the playpen now.

Jon Sharman's picture

No you're right, that's why I said my mistake. Not sure you needed to reply to that with a smart-ass comment.

N a t's picture

It's clear what he meant.

In other news, water is wet! ;)

I read his comment the way you did, that the video poster should be
happy to use a free service and quite bitching. I still think he should
quit bitching. Unless he paid money to the service, he is not owed
much more of an explanation than he received. Will you get mad Facebook if they delete your free account? Free does not mean youre entitled to it, no matter what "valuable commodity" you attach to it. If its not cash, it doesnt count.

While I appreciate your support re: the interpretation of the OP, I think your view on the "free" is incorrect. While I don't wish to re-open the original discussion with Jon, as my responses were perhaps a little hasty, I think I'd like to respond to your comment.

Consider this example;

You are arrested and sent to prison. On being assigned your cell you find your cellmate is a formidable hulking and muscular man, let's call him John. He mentions that you're a bit puny and that he will happily "protect" you from all the other inmates. Initially you decline his polite offer but after your third beating you decide to reconsider. John informs you that he will happily protect you but, as he sometimes gets lonely at night, he expects you to provide him with lots of warm "cuddles" in return. You are now "safe".

This is a commodity exchange and no cash is changing hands. However, I would challenge your assertion that "it doesn't count.".

Facebook, Google and all the rest take your usage data. In exchange they provide you with a service, you don't pay dollarpounds for this service because your usage data has a value and they know it.

You use the service they provide and pay them with data, they sell your data to other companies for dollarpounds, they use dollarpounds to buy techy stuff to manage and improve the service they provide you and also to buy mansions with swimming pools in the Hollywood hills for themselves.

The crux of the story is: Just because you don't see the value of something doesn't mean it has *no* value.

All good, I like when someone plays devils advocate, keeps it interesting.

I understand your example about a value commodity and it makes sense. I personally dont think the example is relevant since he didnt sign up for it.

As for the services gaining money from selling your data, yes, that is a given. Thats what happens with these types of services. I wouldnt be surprised if Disquos(or what ever this comment app is called) does the same thing. Does that mean I can mad when the service deletes a comment(usually reserved for board mods but hear me out), or do I just say, f-it and move on. If they are not forcing you to use a "free" service and you signed up on your own, youre allowed to walk away when the service doesnt work the way you want. When enough people walk away, then things might change but as it stands, free services arent there for you to complain about and demand satisfaction.

How about this badly formulated example.

You walk your dog every day down a street lined with businesses. Every day the owners of the business put out water and treats for the dogs for free in hopes that it might entice you to come in as they are dog friendly. Lets say one day, the owner/s stop doing this. Do you complain and demand they put the items back for you to consume or do you walk on and find somewhere else that does cater to you?

A better example is : You work the entire pay per putting fliers on cars at the mall or wherever. The day before your pay period ends your boss fires you without pay. When you ask why they give you some lame response.

The ads still got served to the customers so your boss is still benefiting and when you pry for a better explanation they say "hey we will give you another shot if you want to start over from scratch"

Google does directly benefit from the traffic other peoples content drives to their services. That is why they offer payouts in exchange for views. It's not as simple as "its a free service, get over it". People make their livings on YouTube.

While i understand that they pay you for hits, there is no contract(that im aware of). This is all entirely voluntary. If I put out a bunch of fliers on a car on my own, and then approached a company that profits from these fliers and asked for money and they said pound sand, whos the one to blame?

Yes, all these companies make money off this free service that you use. I dont know how else to say it but you are not entitled to this money just because you used the service and they gained from it when there is no contract for work in place. If you use Youtube as a way to make your living and you dont have a written contract in place, everything you do is a bet. You sometimes lose.

They could have hosted the video anywhere but they chose YouTube presumably because of this arrangement. I don't think I would feel the need to continue using their service if the benefits are not going to be lived up to for both parties.

YouTube is the Kleenex of web videos but they're not the only game in town.

100% agree!

What is Google’s motto? “Do No Evil? What a joke...

Resistance is futile against The Borg...

Everyone just line up for your Google Glasses and be assimilated.

Sorry to hear that.
This brings up a great point about "User Agreements" that are often
forgotten about when everything is going smoothly...at the end of the day, it's
their site and they can do what they want. I will definitely have to look more
into the Youtube User Agreement.

Jaron Schneider's picture

Absolutely, but I actually didn't break any of the rules but am being punished as if I did. That's the problem. I have no issue with the rules, only the style of enforcement.

Watched the video and didn't see any rules being broken either, but would like to see what's going on in the background...think you mentioned that they ban the use of "Pay per click" votes/views, so wonder if you had some on there that were not sponsored by you? Or maybe they had some questionable IP addresses linked to votes/views...please let us know if Youtube ever gets to the bottom of this, I'd be interested to hear what they have to say.

Jaron Schneider's picture

I disabled comments in this video, so it can't be in there. I disabled all ads on it. YouTube has not responded to repeated requests for specificity. At this point I give up and won't ever upload anything to YouTube ever again.

I understand your frustration, but I would still consider uploading to Youtube as it is still a viable internet marketing tool. But I see your mad at them for doing what they did, and you should be, but at the end of the day, SEO is king and Youtube shows up very high on Google searches....just my 2 cents...best of luck and hope it works out. Cheers!

You disabled the ads on a video that went viral? Maybe is that the reason youtube is accusing you of using bots... I don't know... maybe is not like that, but I have doubts in that sense

that makes no sense. Videos go viral everyday?! silly youtube. I much prefer vimeo as well.

Google/YouTube will consider any traffic coming from competitors as "suspect" traffic. The only way to be on their good graces is to only use Google sites.

Its just a way to not pay you for your work... You tube does this shit all the time.. Look at Andy Sandburg Still WAITING ON A FUCKING YOUTUBE CHECK!

This is what I hate about large scale companies like Google, Paypal, etc. - it's next to impossible to get decent support when you really need it.

I had an issue with Paypal a couple of months ago (basically they wouldn't accept my identification so they froze my account with money in it). To make matters worse, by default you receive an automated reply to each email you send them, and the whole process took a couple of weeks to sort out (still have no clue what made them change their mind though).

Don't you think that CNN and/or ABC could have something to do with that?

Vimeo has markedly better video quality anyway. Hands down and across the board without exception.

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