hI have been working with Google since the first days. Some years I’ve loved them; some years I’ve hated them. I always found them capricious, making decisions they thought were good for users, without worrying about the consequences. I have grown to accept that thoughtlessness, although I still have real problems with their approach. I once got into a discussion with a Google executive who admitted their algorithm changes would hurt people who should not be hurt, but he explained the changes were made “for the greater good”. I could not convince him that Google (already a formidable company 10 years ago) had a responsibility to do all it could to limit that collateral damage — even if it cost them some money. He did not agree.
I have been part of that collateral damage, especially when they decided to give preference to newer content, a number of years ago. My website, historycentral.com is a history site that has been up on the web since 1995. With a swift change of the Google algorithm, suddenly people who had copied our content (i.e. plagiarized without permission or giving us credit) would rank in positions on the early search pages and we would not. I am over that slight from Google, with its added loss of brand recognition and advertising revenue. Over the years, we have slowly regained some our standing in Google search, but it has never again been as good as it once was.
Today, I decided Google is simply evil. They made a decision to remove the status of “Google partner” from all YouTube Channels that do not have 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of viewing. Our channel had 3,950 hours of viewing last year and 600+ subscribers. Due to the nature of the channel, it is not the type of channel to which you would subscribe. I upload new videos only when I am working on new areas of history (although, on Monday, I did upload a 7-minute narrated video overview about the Holocaust that I created.) While I rewrote the World War II section on the site, I saw that this sort of piece was clearly missing.
I am not ultimately worried about the loss of revenue from YouTube. It has been getting continually smaller as YouTube via Google decide an increasing number of my videos are not “suitable content for advertising”. Advertising was removed a few months ago from our most watched video, a 20-minute summary of the Civil War, as has been the case with many historical videos.
Above all, it is the principle that makes me angry. Google is concerned that their crown jewel, i.e., advertising, is being tainted by content that is, or could be problematic. They know their precious algorithms are not good enough. As a result, they decided they needed to have people review the videos. Yet, now, all of a sudden, they decided that despite earlier announcements they were hiring 1000s of people to review all the channels, they chose instead to cut off 70% of the “smaller” sites, so now, their job just became significantly smaller. For them, the revenue the smaller sites bring in is insufficient to make the bother worthwhile. They are probably right. However, at what point does a company become so big and so powerful that it needs to be regulated as a utility? I do not have that answer, but we truly are nearing that point.
In the meantime, because I do not want to give up my status as YouTube partner yet, if you have a moment, please go to the channel and subscribe.