YouTube today announced an update to its guidelines for advertisers that loosens some of its rules on controversial topics such as sexual and domestic abuse, abortions and eating disorders. The changes will allow YouTube creators to monetize their videos on these topics under certain circumstances, but not if they go into graphic details.
Conor Kavanagh, head of YouTube’s monetization policy, shared in a video posted on YouTube’s Creator Insider channel that the company understands that videos discussing these topics can be a useful resource for users.
“That’s why we want to make sure that controversial issues that are discussed in a non-descriptive and non-graphic way are not discouraged by demonetization, if possible,” he said.
Kavanagh also admitted that some creator communities have told YouTube that they feel they are getting “more yellow icons” than others – meaning the video has been flagged as not suitable for advertisers – because they are discussing these topics.
By changing the content specifically about eating disorders, YouTube said that it will adapt its guidelines for advertisers to YouTube’s existing community guidelines . This means that creators will not be able to monetize videos about eating disorders that share triggers, such as instructions on binge eating, hiding or hoarding food, or abuse of laxatives. However, educational or documentary content, as well as content from survivors who refer to these aspects of eating disorders without promoting such activities, will not be demonetized.
The company had already revised its guidelines on eating disorders years earlier, after executives from YouTube and other social media companies, including TikTok and Snap, were questioned by US lawmakers about how their platforms deal with content about eating disorders.
Today’s update follows YouTube’s relaxation of its guidelines for advertisers earlier this year regarding the use of profanity in videos, which caused a backlash among creators. The company said its new obscenity rules created a stricter approach than intended and changed them to allow YouTube creators to use moderate and strong obscenities without risking demonetization.
Previously, any video with profanity in the first 15 seconds was not suitable for monetization, and the change was retroactive. With the rollback, youtubers would be entitled to limited ads if they use profanity in the first seven seconds of a video or throughout the video, while videos with moderate profanity continue to be eligible for monetization regardless of where the terms were used in the video.
Kavanagh referred to these changes when presenting the new guidelines and said that YouTube wants to make sure that it responds to the feedback from youtubers. The creator community expressed their frustration with the new curse rules and said they did not feel well informed about the impact of the changes at the time of their announcement.
” They have told us that when updating our policies, they make a point of communicating the changes, not only through posts in our update log as well as studio notifications, but also by listening to the changes clearly explained by some people working in a specific policy area,” Kavanagh said. “So for updates to our ad policies, you can expect more videos like this to walk you through the changes,” he added.