Build on Rock – Not YouTube
Being an intuitive person, I tend to pay attention when I see patterns repeating in my life, especially messages.
You know, like when you have two random people tell you the exact same thing within days or hours of each other.
Well Universe, consider this message received. Now I’m not sure exactly what to do with it.
Sometimes, messages are delivered in your own language. That’s nice, but it’s easy to ignore those messages.
I had been told repeatedly not to build my business using someone else’s platform. For sales, I needed to build my own customer base and my own website.
Why is this so important?
Because that other platform can shut down, or shut you down at any time, for any reason.
Amazon Hell Week
Soon after receiving this message from someone else, it happened. Amazon had an “off” week for businesses. Apparently it isn’t that uncommon. They changed something and all sales went to zero.
I saw this happen for two different businesses simultaneously. I called it Hell Week.
Customers couldn’t see or find any of the store items. As a shopper, I had to trick Amazon to show me products I wanted to see. Sometimes that didn’t even work.
Luckily, the next week things were back to normal. Sales were better than ever because people could actually find what they were looking for.
But my lesson didn’t end there.
The next time it was even worse.
In addition to blogging and owning a business, I’m also a teacher and many of my lecture videos were housed on YouTube. My teaching videos weren’t open for public viewing but I had created a few that were public.
My newer public videos were for fun. They were to offer general knowledge and to be helpful. My latest video was my very first product review. It turned out to be a negative review, which I was sad about, but I did it anyway. I felt it was important for people to see an honest review. It was information I wish I had seen before I purchased the product.
Just a couple of days after posting the product review, my entire YouTube account was permanently terminated, GONE – The Week Before the Start of School!!!
I later found out that YouTube is supposed to work on a strike system. You are supposed to get warnings before they shut down your entire account. But that isn’t what happened to me.
I received an email saying that I had received serious, multiple and repeated community standards violations.
It stated that my videos contained spam, scams or commercially deceptive content.
I only had a few videos that were public, non-school related videos. No video came anywhere close to being a severe violation of YouTube’s Community Guidelines. A few of the videos contained links directly to THIS website which houses my full blog. That was the only thing that was a possible violation.
This possible violation affected maybe four out of hundreds of videos. Was this why my entire channel was shut down?
We may never know for sure but I suspect I know what happened.
My best guess is that the marketing company of the product I reviewed (or the company itself) had flagged my scant few public videos. As a result, the YouTube robot manager terminated my entire channel without human review.
After doing some research, I found that this was happening to a LOT of YouTube creators and is a huge problem for YouTube.
I submitted an appeal to ask what policy was violated and I received a denial, again by the YouTube robot.
There was no explanation. My case was not reviewed by a human.
I felt completely defeated, wronged.
Did I even want to use YouTube again at all? What was the point? They have complete control and the creator has absolutely no say in what happens.
The algorithm is all-knowing, irrefutable.
Why put in the work and effort of creating content if it can all be instantaneously wiped away with no notice, no warning, and no legitimate appeal?
I decided to google solutions anyway. Ironic since YouTube is owned by Google.
One of the most helpful articles I came across was by Will Mitchell from StartupBros.
Apparently, StartupBros had a YouTube channel that was doing great then was wrongfully terminated. They managed to get their channel reinstated after Lei, a real human person at YouTube randomly contacted them (names are important when you get to this level of desparation.)
StartupBros suspected that it was due to a “scathing” review they posted on their website.
I was shocked at the recommendations. They were laughable. Things like “tweet about it” and “write a negative blog post.” Seriously? These were my options?
I found another blog video that said to appeal again, so I tried it.
I immediately received an automated message to wait two weeks.
I’m not sure what they thought would change in two weeks? I didn’t have access to the channel at all. It was gone. I didn’t have access. It’s not like I could correct anything. It wasn’t there to correct. I was permanently banned. So why must I wait two weeks?
From what I’ve gathered, I would need to get the attention of one of YouTube’s “Trusted Flaggers” who are mysterious humans who are able to manipulate the YouTube systems from the inside!
They are most likely YouTube employees.
It seems as though they take the role of angels who watch over the interwebs for prayers from the pitiful underling creators who have been cancelled by the all-powerful algorithm.
According to an article by Longzijun, some of these Trusted Flaggers hang out on Reddit. A few are even listed by name.
Appreciate the Lesson
I didn’t even know if my content was still there ‘somewhere’ or if it had been erased.
Although it is incredibly inconvenient, I am so thankful that this happened now, before I invested my time in creating content specifically for YouTube.
I didn’t have a twitter army at my disposal and it sounded like more and more people were experiencing the same problem.
I watch YouTube often and had heard other creators talking about moving their content off of YouTube permanently due to the instability of the platform.
As you may have guessed, this is an attempt to get the attention of the YouTube “flaggers” in the hope that a human person will take pity and help recover my account.
But the question remains, do I even want my account to be recovered? Do I want to rely on a platform that I no longer trust?
I will be looking for other solutions and will be sure to give updates on what I find.
Blessings come in many disguises.
Time will tell…..
Two weeks into the Fall semester and I was getting desperate.
In an attempt to backup my teaching lecture videos from Google Drive, I sync’d them to my local drive which resulted in the corruption of almost half of the videos. Who knows what else I lost in this debacle.
My videos on YouTube were the only backup left and I NEEDED to access them.
After doing some more research in reddit, I found a several posts by YouTube bots that claimed that YouTube put an end to “Trusted Flaggers” in 2019.
How do I know a bot posted this? It said it right in the post!
Two weeks into the Fall semester and I was getting desperate.
This was sad news but I kept searching. I arrived back at YouTube Help.
I didn’t feel that YouTube Help would be very helpful but I prayed it would.
I read post after post of people with the exact same story as mine. Then I found something interesting.
On one of these posts there was a person replying in a way that seemed like he could actually do something to help. He was directing people on EXACTLY what to do.
His name was Andrew S – subversiveasset and he was a Diamond Product Expert. His description stated that Product Experts were volunteers, not Google or YouTube employees.
Had I found my YouTube Angel?
I followed his instructions exactly. I created a new thread in YouTube help and briefly explained the whole story, including my suspicions.
I have to admit, the story sounded pitiful. I prayed this would work.
I also posted my initial notification email and appeal denial as instructed, as well as a link to my terminated channel.
The only thing I couldn’t figure out was how to link back to Andrew S. I went to his YouTube Help profile but I didn’t see any way to link to him directly.
I needed a way to get his attention.
I finally came up with a solution that I prayed would work. I found one of his most recent replies to someone else’s post and I commented with my thread url and a plea for help.
Within a short time he replied!!!
He asked something I had seen mentioned before but didn’t pay much attention to. He asked if I had commented on anyone else’s YouTube videos.
I was a little confused. I replied that I had never commented on anyone’s videos including my own!
Apparently, commenting the wrong things (spam links maybe?) can get your YouTube channel terminated.
I was elated when Andrew S. said that he would escalate my case to YouTube for ACTUAL review (like by a real person)!
Less than 24 hours later I received a sheepish email from YouTube saying that after another look I had not violated any policies.
I quickly went to my YouTube channel to check. It was there. It was all there just like nothing had ever happened.
I can’t describe the emotions. There were so many. Happy, wronged, relieved, helpless, grateful, small, resourceful, hesitant, distrustful, flighty, determined.
How do I keep a positive outlook when something like this happens?
It’s easy. I open my perspective to the knowledge that it could have been worse.
In researching my YouTube issue, some people reported that their channel termination led to them not being about to “watch” videos on YouTube.
I came across one person who had his entire google account terminated, not just his YouTube channel.
He realized something was wrong when he woke up late one morning because his alarm didn’t go off. He had a smart home with almost everything, including the alarm, connected to Google Home through Google nest.
It took him quite a while to realize that his google account was suspended due to an issue with his YouTube account.
Other people had similar issues due to hackers getting into their accounts. Their accounts could usually be restored but not without a ton of hassle and stress. Or loss of income. Or control of the basic functioning of their home.
The robots who run these massive tech companies haven’t learned how to be compassionate.
Yet we become more and more dependent on them.
Where do I go from here?
I’m keeping my options open.
Media platforms are just tools. They must fit into a bigger plan.
As far as I know, there is no best, all-inclusive platform or system in the online universe. Just like in the 3D, you can get shut down and shut up.
The greater the connectedness and ease of use, the more detrimental it can be to your business and your life.
The age of the internet moved us ahead at lightspeed and changed our world for the better. But don’t be fooled. The same restrictive systems exist there.
It is up to each of us to see the flaws, look at ourselves first, and transcend our own human nature. Only then will we see changes reflected in the world around us, in the 3D and online
Change yourself. Change the world. Be the change.
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