It is fairly common knowledge that a most dangerous animal is one that has been cornered. When it views its situation as dire, and sees no option that won’t cause harm, it is likely to lash out with ferocity and with no concern for its own safety.
At least, that’s how many would view the actions of the Wall Street Journal, and Gawker’s undead fragments as signs of a devastated media frightened at their dwindling relevance. I am referring to the idiocy that surrounded Youtube’s most prominent figure, Pewdiepie, and his wildly offensive joke.
Because this occurred in February of 2017 (ie two months prior to the writing of this entry), the refresher is that Youtube user and world-renown screecher “Pewdiepie” made an offensive anti-semitic joke, so the Wall Street Journal went straight to the company with whom Pewdiepie was going to work on a project, Disney, and applied pressure to the uber-sensitive mega corporation.
The ever-averse-to-controversy Disney ended the project with Pewdiepie, and traditional media danced to the merry beat of their own self-righteousness.
For some this was an act of simple justice. For others, this was seen as an attempt by the traditional media to smear the alternative channels through which many people have been obtaining their information. Traditional media’s audience numbers, from accounts I’ve read, is dwindling and they are staring at their own irrelevance. Advertisers are wary that using traditional media may not be the best way to reach consumers. Newspapers and television know this. So, the attack on Pewdiepie now seems far more nefarious.
The thinking goes that, because of Youtube’s harbouring of ne’er-do-wells such as Pewdiepie, that Google now fears advertiser withdrawal. As a result, channels on Youtube featuring alternative views are facing monetisation issues, in that the money is being withdrawn. Creators are not receiving payment for the views they bring in, and Google is denying ad revenue.
Some think that Google is running scared and have gone defensive. These people think that traditional media is to blame.
I am not so sure, though.
Okay, maybe the trad-media is partly to blame. However, I feel that Google is now a company so powerful and influential, I don’t think it cares about ad revenue. This is a company so packed to the gills with money, and with a reach so far and wide, that something as petty as money is beyond them.
I don’t think they’re punishing creators because they fear loss of revenue. I think they’re willing to take the hit to justify having alternative views pushed into silence. Withdrawing advertisers is a convenient excuse to deny livelihoods to alternative voices. By taking revenue away from alternative views, these people need to find other ways to fund themselves – and these other revenue sources take energy away from their passion of creating content.
And it’s not like these voices can move to a different platform, either. No other platform has the eyes and ears and reach of Youtube. To uproot the channel and move to Dailymotion, or Liveleak would hack the audience to a fraction of its size.
No, I don’t think Google is caving to advertisers. I think with the amount of reach, influence and outright power they hold, the almighty dollar is but a mere minnow. The bigger fish to fry is their ability to control information and influence powers and entire demographics. Google is past money and wants actual influence. It will cut off its nose to spite the part of its face it doesn’t want seen. The loss of monetary revenue from Youtube is a pittance compared to the cost of ensuring that you can have a population follow your dogma.
Google doesn’t care if Youtube is delegitimised as a platform. If anything, I feel they would champion it. If they can sweep dissenting voices away, and direct more eyeballs to their causes, then that only helps them.
Read Wikileak’s take on Google’s Eric Schmidt and see past the benign corporation clothes to the find the spook underneath.
Google might have been pressured to demonetise some, but I don’t think they were too reluctant.