YouTube Strikes Again: Tone Vays’ Channel Deleted and Restored Overnight
Posted on 04-17-2020.
Yesterday, Tone Vays had his channel instantly deleted by team YouTube. Crypto media attributed this move to Google’s continued purge of crypto-related channels. Today, after an uproar on social media, Tone’s channel was restored.
We kept in touch with Tone from the moment he learned about the ban and until when the ban was lifted. In our conversation, we touched upon many topics: YouTube’s relations with the crypto-community, decentralized alternatives to YouTube, and just what it is like being an independent creator on YouTube. We believe that our conversation offers a lot of valuable insight. With Tone’s permission, we publish it below.
Constantine: Hello, Tone! Just learned that your YouTube channel was deleted. Did you talk to the support? Do you know who filed the complaint and which videos were flagged? Are you going to appeal and try to get your channel back?
YouTube doesn’t really tell you the exact reason why they ban your channel. They just say it’s a violation of terms, which are very vague. They have banned my individual videos in the past, they’ve also demonetized some videos in the past. I’ve appealed them and they were always reviewed and YouTube always said that videos were perfectly fine and they removed those flags in the past.
This morning, I did a video about the markets and that video got flagged as harmful and dangerous. I appealed the decision 30 minutes later when I found out and 30 minutes after that they banned my entire channel. I do not have an explanation other than this screenshot:
YouTube notification screenshot. Source: provided by Tone Vays
Constantine: Did you expect this to happen, given how YouTube already took action against several other crypto-related channels?
I know that other YouTubers are being banned. But I didn’t really expect it because like I said my individual videos have been banned before and they’ve been always reviewed and found to be in compliance so I didn’t anticipate this. Normally you get 4 strikes before they ban your channel. In this case, I got banned without even a single strike.
Constantine: Do you believe there is a broader trend behind this suspension? Why are global corporations attacking the crypto community? Do they want to completely deplatform us? How can we fight back?
I still don’t believe it's a ban against crypto. It’s just that people that do crypto videos are already in this libertarian speak-your-mind free speech environment. And it may not even be the crypto itself, it's the other things that we say.
My videos mostly talk about the price of Bitcoin. Maybe 60% of the time it's the price of Bitcoin, 35% of the time it’s the price of all other assets but 5% of the time I do talk about social issues. While I don’t talk about the corona, I have mentioned it. While I don’t talk about other things like G5, I’ve mentioned it once or twice. Not with any agenda, just as an issue that’s currently in the space. I do mention Donald Trump now and then when it comes to the markets. I am a supporter of Donald Trump. Any of these things could have gotten my videos banned. Could have been a dozen things that could have done it. Unless YouTube tells me what exactly it was, I will probably never know.
Constantine: What’s next? Will you try alternative platforms like Bitchute, Steemit, etc.? Do you use decentralized social media at all? If not, what are they lacking in your opinion? Is it possible to break YouTube's de facto monopoly on the video-content market?
I am not sure yet what I plan to do next. For now, I am just going to take it easy. I think they’re going to bring my channel back. If they don’t I will stand back and rethink what I want to do. I know I will not use Bitchute, LBRY or Steemit. If your platform has a shitcoin or was ICO’d or pays you in its own currency I am absolutely not interested in that platform.
I don’t want to take any other platform seriously because they’re all centralized and they all do the same thing. I will probably do public videos once a week and use a streaming service to stream across all of my social media while still making daily videos privately for subscription clients.
Constantine: You say that you are not interested in platforms that have their own token and pay users with it. Why?
I fully understand that it is difficult to monetize content. But monetizing your content in a currency that you invented and paying you in that currency creates horrible motives for promotion of that content in order to sell a currency that was printed out of thin air by a person to people that don’t know any better. This is why I have always spoken against Steemit from day one and the entire purpose of Steemit is to sell your Steemit at a higher price to someone who doesn’t understand that Steemit is just a worthless currency made up by the founders and early adopters of Steemit who are the ones actually benefitting and getting rich from their users.
I am not a fan of any company that ICO’d. I feel like they broke all kinds of financial regulations. They are unregistered securities or they are making up their own currency that can’t compete long term in the marketplace. I can not support those projects.
Constantine: Gotcha. But there has to be a way to provide a platform for content creators with a decent business model and transparent policies. I gravitate to decentralized solutions myself. While I totally get your point, won’t you agree that some decentralized platforms are evolving into something serviceable?
I don’t see any of these projects actually being decentralized. Any company that is hosting your content is responsible for your content. There’s no such thing as decentralized YouTube. There’s no such thing as Steemit being decentralized. All of that is totally irrelevant. Steemit has your content on their servers and therefore they are responsible for that content. If one of these projects, whether its Steemit or BitTube or Hive, gets big enough they will become YouTube. And they will censor you all the same.
Constantine: Then what are your options?
If I know exactly what I’m doing wrong, I could always change and stop. But when they don’t tell you what the violation actually was you are unable to correct the channel. Going forward I will probably host all my videos. I will probably give up on caring about centralized hosting platforms and there are no such things as decentralized hosting platforms. So I will just put the videos on my own server. And then if my website and my server end up getting banned then I guess it’s over.
Luckily, the community’s concerted efforts made YouTube review their decision and restore the channel. We followed up with new questions.
Constantine: Hey. Congratulations on getting your channel back. Do you think your channel got restored because of your fame and large twitter following?
My channel definitely got restored with the help from the community. This certainly favors channels that have a big following. To be honest, I don’t want to say that it should favor those, but a channel with hundreds of thousands of subscribers earned the respect of the community and if that community speaks out it certainly should make YouTube take a quick look at that channel.
While this certainly favors the big and established YouTubers, they’ve earned the right to have YouTube react to the ban in a faster way.
Constantine: Did team YouTube offer any sort of explanation/apology?
I don’t recall seeing an explanation as to why it was banned, to begin with. If I had to guess I would say it was a bad YouTube algorithm that did it automatically. Maybe too many people reported my account because they don’t like me.
I still don’t think this is an outright crypto ban. It feels more like, once again, some kind of an algorithm that just doesn’t look favorably on the crypto community. And the crypto community has a lot of haters that want their old coins to go up. So they will report channels like mine just because they can.
In the meantime, YouTube channel belonging to BTCSessions, a popular Canadian Bitcoin educator and podcaster, just got deleted under similar circumstances.
Whether we are witnessing YouTube algorithms going wild or a full-fledged campaign against independent crypto commentators remains to be seen. We will keep an eye on the situation, two eyes as often as we can spare them.
This article is a part of our Occupy the Internet series, where we review the current trends in the nascent decentralized web and cover the burning issues of privacy and censorship.
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