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

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.

YOUTUBE-SUSPENDED

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.
youtube.png

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Roger says:

    Thanks so much for posting this.

    My experience was similar except that the message when someone tried to play my embedded video was not as nice.

    I wrote the whole story here on my blog before I found this post via warriorforum.

    http://freecomputerconsultant.com/blog/r-i-p-youtube/

    We did nothing wrong, yet they have locked us out of their business. Walmart can’t do that, it’s illegal. Why is it legal for Google/YouTube?

    And since Google/YouTube rule the web (with the exception of closed community Facebook (note, FB finally noticing a DECREASE in traffic in North America)), it’s not like we can just take our videos elsewhere, just not the same. YouTube videos will rank above any other site in Google results – everything else being equal.

    Google claims to be all about the “experience”, but it’s really about “no one gets to make money on the internet except Google. If our YouTube channel is SOOO bad, why are there SOOOO many great comments and expressions of thanks?

    thanks,
    Roger.

  2. Lou Dalo says:

    Darren, I applaud your creative and controlled response to this situation (and I like the subtle references to character and reputation assassination — i guess you’re never too big to avoid being sued) :)

    You handled it with much more grace than I believe I would have.

    It doesn’t entirely surprise me that YT would start being so aggressive – Google’s being doing this to Adwords advertisers for a what seems like a very long time.

    Recently, they shut down my adwords account because of the ONE ad that I had there, with no keywords assigned, that was inactive ever since it’d been written in MARCH 2010. (details: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150286938430609 )

    What I take offense to is the “guilty (forever) until proven innocent (and even then we don’t really care)” approach. Then the inadvertent offender (often new to the service), and the high-value content producer both have a chance to remedy the offense before having their account permanently banned.

    (That is, of course, unless they have a platform like yours.)

    Seems like that would be so much more civil approach, and I bet most people would gladly remedy and bring their accounts into compliance.

    “Whatever happened to peace, love and understanding?” .. Elvis Costello

  3. Ryan says:

    Well, I suppose you could always sue them, espcially if you lost money from your account getting suspended. That might force sites like youtube to be more considerate about deleting videos or suspending peoples’ accounts over such trivial matters, like IM related topics.

  4. Flyingcows says:

    Ouch, that really hurts one’s feelings doesn’t it? I hope this is just a mistake and not something they did on purpose… this will really bring down the trust on youtube, many businesses are using youtube as their platform for distributing information, suspension without reason is like taking away flowers from the bees…

  5. David Foster says:

    Hey Darren,

    This same thing just happened to me. I did a post about it on my blog as well. I had over 200 free training videos on my account with over 400 subscribers and I also received the email like yours. It simply said that the video I did was in violation and that I was going to get 6 months probation more or less, and that the video in question (which had YouTube in the title because it was showing people how to use YouTube) had been removed. Then when I tried to go to my account, it had been completely suspended.

    We had 100% original content. We teach people how to use social sites to have an online presence for their small business and now all of our members (over 8700) now see that our account has been suspended due to community violations. So it really takes credibility away from us as now I have to explain to our customers why.

    Now YouTube HAS been the only site we have taught our members to use as it thus far has been the best, but if they can do this with no notice am I doing the right thing? Can I now with confidence teach our members that they should indeed use YouTube to house all their videos? I feel like I cannot.

    I did contact them and will see what happens, but I am pretty pissed off about it because of the potential loss of credibility when we have gone out of our way to earn the trust of our members. YouTube is tarnishing that…

    Thanks for the post. I am glad you got your account back in order. We do not have quite the voice you do so we will see if they listen.

    David Foster | hubze ceo

  6. tinagleisner says:

    Darren, Your post is great and a testament to your place in the web-o-sphere. You’ve earned your reputation on solid content and I don’t think any of your followers will think less of you. They will think less of google which isn’t handling the integration of YT well. For me, it feels like its nothing more than another channel to try & build their gmail base and now that I’m doing some email ISP analysis, I’m surprised at how low their numbers are while hotmail remains very healthy.

    Maybe this is simply the wakeup call that we all needed, to never, never, never put all your eggs in one basket. We all need to come up with a new name like MoreTubes, to imply you want to use YouTube and other video hosting sites. As I’ve always been told, with lemons you want to make lemonade!

    • Chad says:

      I want to second that! It may be small consolation, but I think this post speaks volumes about your integrity and the reputation you have built.

  7. Vladimir says:

    Sorry to hear that Darren Rowse and David Foster :(

    I hope YouTube gets their Facts straight before dumping very important people.

  8. Marc says:

    Overall I think google SUCKS! I’m using chrome browser at this minute though will uninstall it (and use Safari and firefox instead [I don't do TRASH, i.e. internet explorer]) as soon as I finish this post. -google is a RESELLER of the godaddy.com thieves and I don’t want associations with such.

    Shutting down my youtube account after I transfer my videos to one of these alternatives: http://www.youtubealternative.com Sometime back I deleted one of my gmail accounts, will now delete the second one.

    As far as I’m concerned they’re not in my future. -God Bless all!

  9. Tiffany Dow says:

    Darren I heard that your fans complained to get you reinstalled. Did your letter do the trick or do you just not know for sure how you got back in their good graces? I woke up to a deleted account this morning and I’m considered one of the ethical good guys. Over 400 videos and years of hard work down the drain.

  10. Darren and David

    Not great news for you both. I wonder how many other people who try to HELP people LEARN have also been impacted? Let’s hope its a glich. I have a series of how to videos but no take down yet!

  11. Vinod says:

    Very sad to know this information. I also watched your video “Secrets to Making Money Online” which is totally logical and there is nothing violation of you tube policies in this video. By doing this action, YT has decreased his own reputation.

  12. David Foster says:

    Just an update…my account was re-instated today however that being said we are still going to move everything elsewhere because if they can do this once, who is to say this will not happen consistently and have to jump through these hoops all the time?

    So as glad as I am that we can actually access our videos and I do not have to run around the net looking for all the places I had them embedded, I am still upset with how this whole thing went down. If you have someone who has an account in good standing with over 415 subscribers and 250 videos, then before you terminate their account…contact them and let them know the violation and give them 7 days to take care of it…don’t delete their account and make all their videos put them in the same class as scammers and spammers…not cool YouTube….not cool!

    David Foster | hubze ceo

  13. Jeannie Long says:

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for the chuckle amidst the fear of YouTube’s power over us. Why doesn’t YouTube let social media do its job and give our viewers the power over whether we should be shut down or not.

  14. ESM says:

    Well it’s no wonder, you Black Hat bastard.

    I’m from Colorado USA, and I think you also talk funny!

    Well that might not sound right, but it makes about the same kind of sense. Good free advice can not just be displayed anywhere. KEYWORD – FREE; there must be a catch!

    Video coming soon!

  15. Lisa Chiodo says:

    The world just keeps getting crazier! I hope you can reconcile long enough to pack your bags and move on. It seems totally unbelievable that this could happen to someone with your credentials and following. I feel totally robbed. Keep us posted.
    ciao lisa

  16. Thanks for posting this information and sharing. Good information to know and share!

  17. Iva says:

    Hello Darren, I thought of reaching out to you as something very bizarre just happened to me.

    I’m a web designer and a very random and harmless blogger from Belgrade. I just had a viral video of Amy Winehouse that was all over the media worldwide throughout the day and had one million and three hundred thousand views on YouTube alone removed for the very same reason your account was suspended. I repeat, 1 300 000 views in less than 48 hours, plus countless views on television all over the world, mentions on radio. It was picked up by Associated Press and my name was on BBC, ABC and others.

    I don’t think they know what they’re doing at this point. And it’s sad. I guess I’m good company, though.

  18. Peter Koning says:

    I see you had a tiff with YouTube – you’re not the only one. Now she’s run back to you but I still want her too!

    I mentioned you here. Hopefully she’ll see me again…

    http://www.affiliate-software-review.com/asrblog/this-youtube-break-up-hurts

  19. Anthony says:

    Bloody hell mate! I applaud you keeping your humour like this, I’d be all kinds of insomnia without the “closure” of this relationship.

    I’ve just spent countless hours making 16 youtube videos for one of my sites….this worries me now! Good luck.

  20. Dan Safkow says:

    This is a scary trend for Internet and video marketers … it’s the third such story I’ve heard in as many days. I’m all for discouraging spammy content, but the YouTube may be taking it too far. I’m sorry to hear that you were caught up in their overzealous policing!

  21. Wow. I teach my clients how to use YouTube to promote their small businesses and of course my philosophy is to always use multiple channels because you never know what could happen to your content if the site shuts down. But this? Totally unbelievable. Will be using you as a case study in future classes my friend.