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YouTube says it can delete your account if you’re not 'commercially viable


YouTube’s new terms of service has some users and content creators very worried that the company could delete their account.

In the section titled “Account Suspension & Termination” with the subheader “Terminations by YouTube for Service Changes,” the site’s new terms, which are set to take effect on Dec. 10, adds the following:

“YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.”

In its most basic terms: if YouTube isn’t making money off you, the company can delete your account. The platform’s current terms of service do not include this language.

YouTube is updating their Terms of Service on 10 December, 2019. It presents an awful possibility for the future of creators on the platform. It seems they will be able to terminate your channel if it's "no longer commercially viable."https://t.co/UrVpXmq4k5 pic.twitter.com/aHIV3XbsRN — Kizzume (@Kizzume) November 8, 2019

Last week, YouTube started sending an email to its users notifying them about the site’s new terms of service. In its email, YouTube summarizes the update as a way to make its terms clearer and easier to understand. Yet, this new addition to its terms weren't mentioned in the email, and the wording couldn’t be any more vague.

As written, these broad terms give YouTube the power to delete a creators’ account if they upload or livestream video that, for example, doesn’t pull in enough advertising revenue. 

YouTube viewers aren’t in the clear either. Notice the terms are worded to cover anyone who has an account, not just its content creators. The language used can mean that a user who looks at lots of content but doesn’t necessarily monetize can also have their account removed.

Christmas Maracle @MaracleManYouTube has new Terms Of Service on December 10th. This basically says that if channels don't make enough money, THEY WILL POSSIBLY TERMINATE THEM!!! Looks like I fought to the very end but now I may be close to losing my livelihood, losing my passion, my audience and my... 5,06010:40 PM - Nov 8, 2019 Twitter Ads info and privacy

2,988 people are talking about this

A generous read of these terms can be seen as YouTube giving itself the ability to remove users and channels that disseminate hate speech or other violent rhetoric. For example, an account that starts creating white supremacist content can certainly be deemed as "no longer commercially viable."

However, the wording could be more explicit in defining what the update means.

It should also be noted that the terms specifically state the company can terminate a user’s Google account as well. As written, a YouTuber can lose their Gmail, Google Photos, Documents, and more just for “no longer being commercially viable” on the video platform.

Mister AntiBully@MisterAntiBully Youtube Pre-2020: Oh wow I made 10 bucks off ads. Neat Youtube Post-2020: "Your account has been suspended and your gmail deleted for not being commercially viable. You are also being fined 42,000 dollars for uploading "Let's Play Resident Evil Part 8" under COPPA" 1,5516:07 PM - Nov 7, 2019 Twitter Ads info and privacy

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People are, of course, freaking out. On Reddit, a single discussion on the topic has more than 32,000 upvotes and 2,300 comments at the time this post was published. Tweets shining a light on the terms of service update are receiving thousands of likes and retweets.

Liz Ryerson@ellaguro · Nov 10, 2019 online content creators need to unionize or this will continue to happen https://twitter.com/Kizzume/status/1192762316158144512 …
Liz Ryerson@ellaguro note that if you have 100,000 subscribers, youtube will let you use their studios in LA. it's a completely different lane for people who are successful on these platforms. and a lot of the people who have been successful on youtube have got it from doing reactionary garbage. 3210:22 AM - Nov 10, 2019 Twitter Ads info and privacy

See Liz Ryerson's other Tweets

As one person on Twitter points out, this feels to some like yet another move from YouTube that plays favorites with its biggest, most profitable creators. Channels with more than 10,000 subscribers are able to use YouTube studio space for free.


In 2018, the company changed its monetization policy, shutting out many smaller creators. Small channels that are eligible for monetization have increasingly higher standards to abide by than the bigger channels did when they were starting out.

Mashable has reached out to YouTube for more information and we will update this post when we hear back.

UPDATE: Nov. 11, 2019, 8:52 a.m. EST A YouTube spokesperson provided Mashable with the following statement: 

"We made some changes to our Terms of Service in order to make them easier to read and to ensure they’re up to date. We’re not changing the way our products work, how we collect or process data, or any of your settings.”

UPDATE: Nov. 11, 2019, 3:06 p.m. EST A YouTube spokesperson has sent Mashable additional information that was included in a tweet from the company:

Christmas Maracle @MaracleMan · Nov 8, 2019 YouTube has new Terms Of Service on December 10th. This basically says that if channels don't make enough money, THEY WILL POSSIBLY TERMINATE THEM!!! Looks like I fought to the very end but now I may be close to losing my livelihood, losing my passion, my audience and my...
TeamYouTube✔@TeamYouTube To clarify, there are no new rights in our ToS to terminate an account bc it’s not making money. As before, we may discontinue certain YouTube features or parts of the service, for ex., if they're outdated or have low usage. This does not impact creators/viewers in any new ways. 46711:35 AM - Nov 11, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy

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