banned from youtube, no idea why
January 22, 2021 12:08 PM   Subscribe

A couple days ago, I went to Youtube and a message popped up that my "channel" had been removed for violations of their terms of service. Channel is obviously their term for a user account, but... I don't really have a channel. The only reason I have a Youtube login at all is because it's part of the Googleverse, and I have a Google login that persists across Google properties. I don't actually *do* anything on Youtube except watch videos. I don't upload any videos, I don't comment, I don't even up or downvote. I haven't lost any real functionality, so it doesn't really bother me, but I'm just really confused. What could I have done?

The ban message references misleading political content, so I'm assuming I somehow got swept up in that whole thing, but I'm not sure how. I've only uploaded one video ever, a football-themed Downfall parody back in 2015. There's no other externally visible record of my existence on the platform. Literally zero comments, zero votes, anything. Obviously Google tracks a lot more stuff that only they can see, but it's not like I've watched any controversial videos, either. Nearly all of the videos I watch are stuff like Adam Ragusea or Rick Beato. It's possible I may have clicked on a video embedded on a news site or something, but just viewing a video doesn't seem to be enough to be ban-worthy.

This makes me think that my account has been compromised, that maybe someone hacked my password and posted something as me. I'd love to be able to see my uploads to know if this is the case, but of course Youtube has removed my channel, so I can't. None of my other Google services seems to be affected. My Gmail, which is not my primary email, doesn't have any sent items in nearly a year, and no unexpected spam in the Inbox. The last activity in Drive is nearly five years old. I don't actually use any other Google services, but I checked a few just to make sure and don't see anything unusual. I haven't gotten any suspicious login emails, my Google Account shows no recent security events, and the only devices it shows I've used to sign in are this computer, my phone, and my old phone over a year ago. So I don't think I was hacked.

I used the "appeal" form to ask if they could provide details. I got an ungrammatical, possibly machine-generated email saying that they've decided to keep my account suspended, and not to respond further. OK, but I would like to know what happened. Is there a paper trail somewhere that I could still view? Is there a way to talk to a person about this? As it stands, the only explanations I've got are that someone hacked me or that I'm sleepwalking. If either of those are true, I'd kind of like to know.
posted by kevinbelt to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty weird. They're doing a big crackdown on political disinfo right now so my guess is you somehow got caught up in that. If your account was compromised and the hacker uploaded stuff, it probably would have referred to that specifically. So this is strange.

There's almost no way to talk to a person, Google customer service is infamous. However if you memail me your account details (not like... password or anything, just username, channel name or whatever) I'll see if I can rustle anything up. If random users are getting caught in the disinfo dragnet that's something Google should be made aware of.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:40 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]

I believe most of the dots you lay out in your question can be connected.

You've been deleted for misinformation. Your only sign of life was a video featuring Hitler in his bunker.

Ratio-wise, you might look like a nazi bot to a dumb algorithm.
posted by Snijglau at 12:49 PM on January 22 [13 favorites]

I think Snijglau's conclusion is correct. ^^^^ Also, there were no humans involved in this (dumb) decision, and Google/Youtube has gone to considerable lengths to make sure you will never be able to talk to a human about a decision that a weak algorithm made. That sucks, because it feels really unearned, and is tied to your other Google accounts. I'd be upset too. I wish there was a better answer than just accept it and move on. I'll be watching here to see if there is.
posted by seasparrow at 12:56 PM on January 22

They really need an appeals process.
posted by amtho at 12:58 PM on January 22 [1 favorite]

The youtube algorithm for account banning absolutely makes mistakes. For example, CGP Grey had his account banned because, if i remember correctly, it got flagged as impersonating CGP Grey. Given he makes a large percentage of his living off of his youtube content, and is a high profile youtuber, he had strong motivation to get it resolved, and it took days for even him.

The only thing you've probably done "wrong" is be the random victim of bad luck. 1 video on an account? I'd say f'it, create a new account and start fresh. I can't imagine it's worth the fight.
posted by cgg at 1:00 PM on January 22

Haha that would be absolutely hilarious if everyone who posted a Downfall video got banned.

I'm not even worried about creating a new account. I wouldn't use it for anything. I know what channels I subscribed to, so I could either bookmark them directly or RSS them.

And amtho, to be fair, they have an appeals process. They just need one that actually, you know, considers evidence instead of just rubberstamping.
posted by kevinbelt at 1:07 PM on January 22

If you called the video something like "Hitler reacts to Tom Brady's new contract!" then it's very possible that the algorithm just saw you as someone where 100% of their videos had "Hitler" in the title.
posted by theodolite at 1:51 PM on January 22

I keep a link to this rant about Google around for whenever I get fed up and/or annoyed with them. It's a priceless rant, but note that it does drop the F bomb 16 times. Granted this doesn't directly answer "why" you got nuked, but the author of that article suggests that rock bottom they just don't care.
posted by forthright at 2:53 PM on January 22 [3 favorites]

They think you’re a Nazi! That’s my guess.
posted by bluedaisy at 3:55 PM on January 22

I would like to clarify, just for the record, that I’m not a Nazi.
posted by kevinbelt at 4:57 PM on January 22 [23 favorites]

That Downfall parody thing was apparently a meme on Youtube that YT kills low-hit versions, according to

>Interestingly, Downfall parodies with the most hits are mostly a one-timer by YouTubers not common in the Unterganging circle, except a few by major Untergangers. Due to this, without a considerable network, a lesser Unterganger will find it hard to get views. This also means that parodies by one-timers and lesser-known Untergangers could be taken down, deleted, or have their channels closed undetected.
posted by kschang at 4:58 PM on January 22

Just this last week, that happened to me too. I also don't "do" anything on YT save watch, and I'm also not a nazi. Odder still the next day everything was fine and dandy. As it is this morning. Give it a day, see what happens, this may be some sort of glitch.
posted by james33 at 4:50 AM on January 23

Join the club. I had three... yes THREE... accounts banned in 2020. I swore. That's what I did. Apparently I do that a lot when dealing with misogyny and racism. I'm English. Swearing is a strong part of our vocabulary.

Did your parody contain any music or image copyright? They will ban you as soon as they catch wind of it.

I tried to appeal too. Then I realised that what they call a suspension is actually a termination. I don't know why they don't use the correct terminology. Say ta-ta au revoir to your account. Btw be glad you haven't put lots of videos up because people have suddenly had channels wiped that had years of content and a steady following. It's scaring people away.

There's a youtube subreddit where this question gets asked every 5 days or so.
posted by ihaveyourfoot at 7:02 AM on January 23 [1 favorite]

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