Did YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Just Destroy Her Career?
Did YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Just Destroy Her Decision-Making Credibility in The Span Of 3 Days?
The original seed of this debacle can be traced back to a few short months ago when YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki set out to have some arguably myopic “Research” (the scope and methods of which have yet to be disclosed), the findings of which have spearheaded a radical set of major changes to the platforms “Non-Corporate” and “Non-Famous Outside of the Platform” creators, which had already been facing heavy criticism from creators, fans, and critics alike.
As for the controversial changes that had already been implemented, the general consensus is that they were designed to raise the barrier for entry, considerably, to have content discoverable and easily shared, and build on YouTube. Many have said, to the point of outright impossibility.
To elaborate, new policies that have been implemented within the past year or, most of which within the past couple months include:
An abrupt mass de-monetization of previously monetized YouTube creator accounts, changing their monetization threshold requirement “effective immediately” from a previous (fairly reasonable) 10,000 lifetime views, aggregate total between all published (past and present) videos, to a much more stringent 1,000 Current Subscribers AND 4,000 HOURS OF WATCH TIME with (get this) the ADDED STIPULATION that 1000 Current active Subscribers would have had to have subscribed AND completed 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months AND That that threshold had to be maintained in order to maintain eligibility for continued monetization within their network.
More disturbing yet – since this change has been implemented, creators have been reporting large sums of Views, Subscribers, and Watch Time Disappearing from their channel’s statistics (incidentally, the very same metrics that they were basing monetization on)- to the tune of hundreds or even thousands at a time. Inquiries and complaints registered regarding these mass shavings have been met with less than stellar responses from YouTube Staff, ranging from:
The Paltry – excuses such as “Too many from the same geographic region or time, therefore it was flagged as suspicious”
The Ridiculous – “Determined to be “invalid” due to “Viewer inactivity based on a lack of mouse movement during playback of the video until (while they would have been watching) followed by an immediate exit of the YouTube page upon the completion of the video” (so basically enough visitors simply watched the video from start to finish, and then didn’t stay on YouTube to watch more videos and YouTube’s Narcissism kicked in and determined that must fake)
The Insulting – Responses including verbiage to the effect of “Our data algorithms are backed by multi-billion dollar technology, do you really think, that what you believe your numbers should be are going to be more accurate than the sophisticated proven data set provided by the undisputed most powerful and accurate enterprise data logic engine in the world?” – not necessary and for the record, he who controls the “Most powerful data logic engine in the world” can (theoretically) mispresent the findings the easiest, as no one would have access to the original dataset in order to contest it. (personal observation)
To The Aggressive – Publishers have reported in many forums, having their YouTube Channels Demonetized, Videos Deleted, access to their accounts disabled and earnings for the pay period zeroed out immediately after placing and inquiry regarding a discrepancy in stats o missing views, watch time o subscribers, without explanation or opportunity for appeal.
Very recently, merely by virtue of having a google account, the google subscriber would have seamless access to all of Google Products under the same “Username” which is the “Gmail” email address minus the “@google.com “portion. Actually, this still remains quite true, with the exception of one rogue Google product – YouTube. Until January, this was actually “taken for granted” condition for YouTubers, but Susan Felt it shouldn’t be, and thus it is no more.
In January 2019, the new stipulation (that again, negatively impacted existing creators) was updated to state that one may be eligible fo their own “Custom Channel name” once they have been publisher for more than 30 days, have gained a minimum of 100 su bscribers within those 30 days and received 20 hours of Viewing time. Creators have been consistently complaining about the same websites as the previous set of publishers have – disappearing stats, with shifty (if any) explanations.
It is also worth mentioning – “Corporate Creators” and “People who are considered to be famous for reasons originating outside of this platform” are not subject to any of these terms, can create a brand custom YouTube channel with any name of their choosing and their views, watches, and subscribers will never be “evaluated”, nor will their stats be altered in any way. (“Corporate Creators” largely being defined as “businesses including brand new startups of a certain financial standing” and the determination of “famous for reasons originating outside of this platform” being assessed by their (the moderator’s) opinion of the likelihood of anyone having a desire to impersonate or copy you – a policy literally enforced by means of 1) Separate standards for the wealthy and 2) The superficial opinion of one lone “moderator” despite, in many cases, obvious data indicating that they are clearly “Popular” regardless of the origin of their fame (if they have managed to remain monetized despite the drastically raised requirements, clearly someone finds them interesting).
Thursday, September 19, 2019 would prove to mark a new epoch in the annals of this algorithmic gerrymandering of YouTube results in favor of Corporations, Big Brands and Big Money. YouTube’s leadership was completely unprepared for the massive and vocal backlash from the massive creator community (who had taken every other policy change that had been clearly skewed to their detriment relatively passively save for some grumbling and forum rants). This next ill-thought out move would prove to be where YouTube’s estimated 23 Million Channel Creators draws the line.
YouTube’s methods and apparent attitudes Thursday indicated they expected a “business as usual” response, being a collective mass of publishers simply “rolling over” and taking without much of a fight, the “next thing” In a would-be nearly endless list of abilities, perks, acknowledgments, or even common courtesy afforded to their publishers.
It was a canned mass email sent out to the majority – nearly all – current YouTube Creators informing them that they are going to be stripped of their “Verified Creator” badge as well. Yes, you read that right. Millions of YouTube creators received an email Thursday Sept 19 stating that YouTube was “Updating the eligibility criteria for channel verification on YouTube” and that “With these changes, your channel no longer meets the criteria to be verified. We realize you may find this disappointing, but we feel this will prove to be a great benefit to the users as a whole.” – Shocking, unnecessary and seemingly lacking a logical purpose (other than to dole out another verbal “kick in the teeth” to the creator community) based on the cryptic and al0most patronizing language of the email.
As she would soon find out, Susan Wojcicki had failed to recognize, or comprehend, the most damning aspects of what it is she was effectively doing by having such a policy go into effect, especially worded the way it was. She had effectively provoked 23 Million Cornered Opossum and Honey Badgers, and there was NO getting out of this unscathed.
For starters – you can only kick a person in the teeth so many times before they’re going to unload on you. No matter who it is, how patient they are – or if they’ve achieved sainthood – everyone has their limits.
Arguably the BIGGEST pain point for this particular demographic in this particular circumstance that would be an immediate indication that it would NOT go over well:
They effectively told 23 million Artists Who (by reputation) are over sensitive and place ultimate and who place the highest level of importance on self-expression, many of whom have spent YEARS if not over a decade cultivating the identity they have developed for themselves, largely through their YouTube Channels – that they are going to nonchalantly – effectively “Strip them of their identity an render them invalid / unoriginal”.
It’s not surprising, considering how the creator community would likely respond to the former, that within a couple short hours of that mass email being sent, You Tube’s Twitter page, blog, forum, and YouTube channel were absolutely INUNDATED with emotionally charged, angry, hurt, confuse and excitable – and quite persistent – YouTube Creators. The Effect was immediate and powerful.
Without realizing it, Susan tapped into exactly the right nerve to unleash the wrath of 23 Million of these
– who will not be silenced or ignored!
The deluge of outraged YouTubers apparently did not let up – and by all appearances, based on the events that followed, it seems to have given Ms. Wojcicki the realization that she only holds all the cards so long as the masses allow her to. It got to her, and it shows in her lack of judgement.
Fast forward to Friday, Sept 20. The day after that fateful email was deployed, while being inundated by a barrage of appeal, anger, and outrage for roughly 24 hours, while addressing comments from the emotionally charged mob she created, she made the public statement that every one of the changes in “verified creator” status would be undergo a “manual human review” (not algorithmic, not AI).
There is no backpedaling on that statement – and even a split-second consideration from a layman unfamiliar with the intricacies could tell you off the bat that manually reviewing 23 million channels would be a MONUMENTAL TASK – clearly not a well thought out statement.
Predictably, on Saturday September 21 Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube announced that they’re officially rescinding the original statements made in the email regarding removal of the coveted checkmark. This was a war beyond the scope of her Generalship.
So, in a nutshell, having been trapped between this enormous flood of emotion:
And the inconceivable amount of work she absent-mindedly committed her staff to
The result was This:
So – having gone from Lion To Lamb – having shown a total lapse in critical thinking skills in critical high pressure situations, and having the “Stone-Cold Callous (insert preferred expletive here)” façade stripped, vulnerabilities exposed, and referenceable instances of questionable judgement now out in the open – by how much did she just shorten the shelf life of her term as CEO of YouTube – or in Silicon Valley in general? It’s likely not a question of “if “her actions and reactions have damaged her career, it’s a matter of how much and how swiftly it will play out.
Only time will tell.