In context: A group of YouTubers is unionizing to bring transparency to the platform. The YouTubers Union is a community of content creators who are like-minded on the site’s policies. The group was formed last year over conflicts between the platform and some YouTubers.
YouTubers Union has no real authority or power, but it has recently announced (below) a partnership with IG Metall, a powerful metalworker’s union in Germany. IG Metall does not only represent metalworkers. It has also formed unions in various other industries including textiles, plastics, electrical engineering, and information technology.
The two organizations have begun a campaign called FairTube. The goal is to get YouTube to clarify its rules regarding how it decides to monetize and demonetize videos and to treat all content creators fairly.
The union’s proposals ask YouTube to:
- Publish all categories and decision criteria that affect monetization and views of videos
- Give clear explanations for individual decisions, i.e., which parts of the video violated which criteria in the Advertiser-Friendly Content Guidelines
- Give YouTubers a human contact person who is qualified and authorized to explain decisions that have negative consequences for YouTubers (and fix them if they are mistaken)
- Let YouTubers contest decisions that have negative consequences
- Create an independent mediation board for resolving disputes
- Formal participation of YouTubers in important decisions, for example through a YouTuber Advisory Board
It is unclear how much pull YouTube Union will have with the platform now that it has IG Metall’s help. It demands that YouTube respond to its requests by August 23. If it does not, IG Metall will be looking into the legality of YouTube’s policies as they apply in the European Union. The group will look to leverage the GDPR to force more transparency. It will also investigate whether content creators can be considered YouTube employees.
YouTube's parent company Google has not commented on the movement.
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