The Canadian cannabis community is reeling after some of the country’s biggest cannabis-focused channels on YouTube have been terminated for violating community guidelines- this includes Pot Tv, UrbanRemo, Mr canucks grow, and many others.
That’s thousands of videos, hundreds of thousands of subscribers, and millions of views- all gone in an instant!
Sad news: our Pot TV account on YouTube was deleted – and it’s happening to many fellow cannabis activists & educators.
Marc Emery started Pot TV in 2000 with funding from Emery Direct Seeds. It was one of the first internet video sites *ever*. Wish we had funds for media today!
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) April 14, 2018
Why were these cannabis-related YouTube channels terminated?
It appears the decision was made solely because their content revolved around cannabis, and now, according to Dr. Autoflower:
3 out of the top 5 cannabis channels in Canada have now been destroyed.
There is a War on Cannabis.
But there’s also a War on Cannabis Truth — because #ReeferMadness & criminalization depend on lies & misinformation.
YouTube’s deletion of dozens of the oldest & most prolific cannabis-related accounts is another example of #CannabisTruth censorship.
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) April 15, 2018
YouTube’s anti-cannabis spree has content creators questioning if this infringes on their freedom of speech- some cannabis activists are even comparing the termination of their channels to book burning, and while that may seem like a stretch at first, it is not very far off when you consider the educational value that many of these channels had, and how many have been doing this for years- to the point that their work could act as a historical record of the cannabis activism.
We are very concerned about what is happening around the world to cannabis @YouTube channels. We represent freedom of speech that is quickly being taken away. I have had my channel on YouTube since 2010, with 190,000 subscribers over 2300 videos. This can’t be the new normal.
— REMO (@theurbanremo) April 12, 2018
Although YouTube is a private company and can do what it wants, it’s heartbreaking for the cannabis content creators who have been affected by this. YouTube’s appeal system is can be difficult to wade through, and as we’ve seen in the past with the 2017 “Adpocalypse”, the company isn’t famous for being forthcoming with the details- quite the opposite, in fact.
Cannabis activists have started accusing Big Business of trying to rewrite cannabis history, and the tweet below is an example of these concerns, and it appears YouTube is following suit:
“We both share a concern that the real history of weed is being erased and replaced with the idea that big business created legalization and is the culture, when really it’s outlaws and renegades who created the change and the culture.” — https://t.co/128OIpd5Jk w/ @ImYourKid https://t.co/kRzsZBIJ8B
— David Bienenstock (@pot_handbook) March 13, 2018
YouTube’s Community Guidelines: 3 strikes, you’re out
According to Youtube:
Community Guidelines strikes are issued when our reviewers are notified of a violation of the Community Guidelines. This includes but is not limited to videos that contain nudity or sexual content, violent or graphic content, harmful or dangerous content, hateful content, threats, spam, misleading metadata, or scams.
While these strikes don’t last forever (they expire after 3 months), if you get 3 strikes within that 3 month period, your account will be terminated.
Many of the affected channels have reported similar issues on social media, saying that they received multiple strikes within days and were terminated, as Jodie Emery explains below on Twitter:
Everyone has the same thing — a sudden burst of flags/reports about “violating community standards”. See @theurbanremo posts for more info, he’s sharing news because he lost his account too. After no complaints for many, many years, there’s a sudden flood. Tons of accounts hit.
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) April 15, 2018
I’ve had 16 strikes since Monday, April 9. Never had one of these community violation strikes since I started this channel in 2010. I’m hearing the only way to beat this is to get a lawyer and file a lawsuit. YouTube then apparently is turning peoples channels back on. https://t.co/Bfl7t2Hgoz
— REMO (@theurbanremo) April 14, 2018
Dr. Autoflower confirms this approach and says it started earlier this year and suggests it’s YouTube’s way of getting rid of content they don’t approve of:
Yep, started back in January. It started effecting random big channels, multiple strikes overnight which were unsuspend immediately, they were told just a “glitch”. I think they are sneakly using this Glitch to remove unwanted communitys. gun, alt media, cartoon channels hit too
— Dr. Autoflower (@drautoflower) April 14, 2018
How can the channels fight back?
This has left many creators looking at their options and wondering if YouTube is even worth it anymore. Some are considering legal action to get their channels and videos reinstated, and others have been creating new channels or reverting to their backup ones. Some creators are considering leaving the site altogether for the greener pastures of cannabis-focused spaces like The Weed Tube or heading to Vimeo, DTube, or Steemit.
Matt Mernagh, best-selling author of The Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook, said on Twitter:
This is a full-on assault of cannabis creators by @YouTube.
An even bigger question is what will happen once cannabis is legalized in Canada? Will there even be a place for content like this on YouTube, or is YouTube trying to make its entire platform more advertiser- and kid-friendly?
YouTube has certainly fallen a long way from where it used to be as a home for creators. Now, it has become increasingly sanitized in an attempt to appeal to marketers and advertisers, turning into an environment where creators can live in perpetual fear of getting content strikes which can then lead to getting their entire channel removed. Considering that many successful YouTubers make their living off the platform, that is a terrifying prospect.
Where else can cannabis content creators go?
It feels like the entire cannabis community on YouTube has been put on notice, but YouTube is so big, if creators go anywhere else, they risk a precipitous drop in audience since YouTube is one of the biggest sites on the internet.
One thing that these account terminations emphasize is how important it is to backup your videos and not rely on it being up on YouTube or social media as your account can be terminated at any time and all of your work can be lost forever since we are at the whims of these huge tech monopolies, like Youtube (which is owned by Google) that know almost everything about us and have no legal obligation to let us even use their services since we get it all for “free”.
List of terminated channels so far…
According to multiple sources, terminated channels include UrbanRemo, Mr canucks grow, Pigeons420, and Greenboxbrown, Mr. Grow It, Haenap OG-Kush 2.0, Drew Grows, and Envy MYcloset Grow.
Seems like they are going extra hard on all the large Canadian grow channels more then anyone else. Only Johnny left now. People who got hit are Mr canuck Grow, Pigeons420, Mr Grow it, Haneup OG, Drew Grows, Envy my closet grow, greenboxgrown
— Optic LED Grow Light (@WGREGO202) April 14, 2018
Also at risk is the School of Hard Nugs and Freddie “Da Weed King” Pritchard, the host of the One Man Smoke Show, who has also received his first content strike in 11 years, which means Freddie’s ability to livestream on YouTube has been revoked for 90 days.