YouTube Banned Me! You Won’t Believe the Reason Why.

I have been rejected, cast off, shunned, and exiled… out of the land of YouTube. YouTube has terminated my account and banned me from ever making another account! What is my crime? Your guess is as good as mine. I have absolutely no idea.

My Dear John Letter

On February 6, 2020 (2 days after my birthday, no less) I received the following email:

The Google Account _ is now disabled. It looks like it was being used in a way that violated Google’s policies.
We understand your account is important to you. So if you think this was a mistake, sign in to the disabled account and submit a request to restore it. You’ll need to do this soon, because disabled accounts are eventually deleted, along with your emails, contacts, photos, and other data stored with Google. Learn more about Google policies.

A minute later I also received this email:

We’d like to inform you that due to repeated or severe violations of our Community Guidelines (https://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines) your YouTube account Jonathan Franzone has been suspended.
After review we determined that activity in your account violated our Community Guidelines, which prohibit spam, scams or commercially deceptive content (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801973?hl=en).
Please be aware that you are prohibited from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube accounts. For more information about account terminations and how our Community Guidelines are enforced, please visit our Help Center.
If you would like to appeal the suspension, please submit this form.

My Supposed Appeal

At this point I was NOT reading things as if I were engaged in a legal battle where every minutiae of language was crucial. I clicked the form and filled it out. I’m not even sure of what I said, but I’m positive it included something to the effect of, “Hey, can you help me to understand why my account has been disabled?”

Going on a long history of interacting with normal people on the internet, and the support staff of various internet entities, I assumed that this would proceed as a conversation. Every other reasonable company I’ve ever dealt with would be happy to give specifics as to why such action had been taken. Not the Video Nazis!

This is the response I got:

Hello,
Thank you for your account suspension appeal. We have decided to keep your account suspended based on our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service. Please visit http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines for more information.
Please do not respond to this email. Replies to this email will not be processed. Please refer to our Help Center for more information.
Sincerely,
The YouTube Team

A Further Look

Um, what!? It is at this point that I decided to search the internet to see what was up. Do you know what I found? That’s right! Hundreds and thousands of people that had been banned from YouTube with absolutely no idea of why.

I ended up on this YouTube page about Channel terminations, which was entirely unhelpful.

In fact, they ask at the bottom of the page, “Was this helpful?” NO! Do you know what you’ll find if you click through and read the Community Guidelines and the Terms of Service? That’s right. 3.14 metric tons of information. Which means my banning could be basically anything. This is an escape clause that allows YouTube to ban any user at any time… just because.

Now, lest there be any doubt… I actually support their right to do this. Yes, I’m very libertarian in my views of private companies’ rights. It just doesn’t make any sense to me why you’d want to treat your customers this way.

Also, lest there be any doubt… yes, I AM was a customer. YouTube is free, but I have been paying for their Premium service so that I can play YouTube on my Apple TV without any advertising. Hundreds of hours of Baby Shark + no ads = happy children.

After more reading, I realized that most people are banned for a handful of reasons. At least according to various bloggers and other people trying to help those who have landed in YouTube pergatory.

  • A single case of severe abuse such as predatory behavior or spam
  • hate speech, harrassment or impersonation
  • Copyright violations

None of those sound anything like me! For one, I only have a handful of videos that I’ve uploaded. They are just personal/family videos, one that is a slideshow of pumpkins, and a few other various/random things. I do not use this platform for any business purposes or to try to make money. So there would be no reason for me to use any “spammy” behaviors in my videos. I certainly don’t think you could interpret any of them as hateful or harassing. There are no copyright violations in them.

Secondly, I hardly ever comment on videos. If I do, it would be something like, “Thanks! That was super helpful.” I don’t feed the trolls and I don’t engage in comment debates.

A Second (Real) Appeal

Since my first “appeal” was an attempt to open a line of communication in order to get more information (which failed miserably), I decided to try again with an actual appeal. This is the note that I sent them the second time:

Dear YouTube, I have no idea why my account has been terminated. I have been a YouTube user for many years and watched hundreds of hours of videos. My children have watched hundreds of hours of Baby Shark videos and princess videos. I have reviewed the Community Guidelines and there is nothing in there that I see that I would have even attempted to violate. I only have a handful of videos uploaded and I cannot login to review them. If any of them are the offenders I’d be more than happy to delete them. I don’t use YouTube for business or to attempt to make money. I hardly ever comment and would never be hateful or “spammy”. Additionally, I had absolutely no prior warning with any specifics about any violations that I had committed. For this, I am forever banned from YouTube? I ask you to please, please reconsider reinstating my account. As stated above, but to make it clear, I will gladly make any corrections to my account that have violated your guidelines.

Sincerely, a very sad user

And, I promptly received the following response:

Hello,
We have looked into your request and found that you have recently sent an appeal. Please wait for the result of your current appeal. If it has already been decided, please refer to that outcome. Note: You cannot appeal a second time.
Sincerely,
The YouTube Team

So… no second chances. Right. And apparently it’s in their terms that I (as in me personally) can NEVER create another YouTube account. Because…? Right.

Do you remember the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld? He ran a restaurant in New York that served soup. It was really great soup. However, you had to order in just the right way, behave in the owner’s required protocol, and not stray at all. If you did, then the Soup Nazi would ban you forever from his restaurant. This is what that feels like.

Is YouTube run by Nazi’s? I don’t think so. And as I’ve stated, they have every right to behave like jerks if they want to. However, this is absolutely the worst customer experience you could ever provide. You would think a company this large would have more resources to provide even better customer support, but that just isn’t the case.

Well, I guess I’ll mozey on over to Vimeo and see if they have any decent shows.

References