In an article about Youtube, a hand holds up a phone displaying the Youtube logo.

Is YouTube Dying?

What exactly can YouTube do to address the complaints lodged against it?
December 26, 2022
6 mins read

Everyone has explored the depths of YouTube at some point in their life, whether it’s to watch a makeup tutorial, a wide range of cat videos or a walkthrough of a recent video game. People can enjoy Youtube’s expansive array of free content whenever and however they choose, which is why the platform became so popular for viewers and content creators alike. But since its inception in 2005, Youtube has drastically changed and evolved — and not necessarily for the better. Content creators have begun to speak out about the various problems the video sharing platform has developed; many creators have left the platform altogether, taking their fans and free content elsewhere.

The Problems

A recent update included a new algorithm that allows the company to do less work yet accomplish more. Sounds simple, right? If only that were true. With the new algorithm, YouTubers have experienced multiple issues, and many feel that the algorithm picks favorites who do not have to abide by the same rules. The company currently has two ongoing lawsuits — discrimination against black creators and discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community — and YouTubers are speaking out about being targeted. These two groups have found that many of their videos have been flagged, age-restricted or gone missing. YouTube claims that nothing is wrong with its algorithm despite evidence which proves otherwise.

Another problem with YouTube’s algorithm is that shorter videos are heavily prioritized. While this change can be great for popular YouTubers or for those who make shorter videos, it is killing creators who have small channels or post longer videos. Jeffree Star (a beauty guru with his own cosmetic line) is one example of a creator who makes longer videos, and he has decided to leave the platform since his makeup videos are no longer doing well. In fact, he’s changed tactics altogether, starting a profile on TikTok and uploading short and quick videos there. The guru explains that during the pandemic, his videos garnered millions of views, but now, he’s lucky if just one video can reach that number. TikTok allows viewers to watch hundreds of videos in seconds while keeping their attention, which is key in our post-COVID world; multiple studies have indicated that the attention span of viewers has decreased since the pandemic struck.

YouTubers’ Thoughts and Concerns

YouTubers have been speaking out against the discrimination presented by the algorithm, especially since the algorithm may be breaking YouTube’s guidelines. One YouTuber (who goes by CarlxKenshin) experienced this discrimination after creating a walkthrough for the horror game “The Mortuary Assistant.” The Black creator made a video explaining that despite both making a walkthough for the same game, his was age-restricted while Markiplier’s (a white creator) was not. Markiplier responded to this issue by uploading a video of himself playing an inappropriate game, which caused many gamers to do the same, creating the “Age-Restricted Challenge.” Even though YouTube executives received this message, they haven’t taken any steps to change the algorithm. YouTubers continue to speak out against the platform and address these issues, but creators can only do so much.

Furthermore, the change in recommended videos has forced creative YouTubers to either break their videos up into several parts, or take their content and ideas and leave. Users have flocked to platforms like TikTok or Twitch, which haven’t had nearly as many issues or guidelines as YouTube. Not only does this mass exodus cause a loss of profit for the company, but it also forces Youtube to spend time looking at, addressing and fixing the issues. Fortunately, YouTube has implemented a new video style for channels that mimics TikTok’s short and simple mechanics, allowing creators to post extremely shortened videos. The platform also allows creators to live stream like with Twitch, but the application is far more complicated on YouTube. These solutions aren’t exactly ideal for those looking for more permanent solutions, but it could be a start to saving YouTube from its own demise.

The Future

What does this mean for YouTube’s foreseeable future? In reality, it would be extremely hard for the platform to suddenly drop dead, but this may be a possibility with creators continuously leaving and rival platforms stealing the spotlight. One thing is for certain though — if executives plan on changing the algorithm entirely, they should listen to YouTubers. With the new features in place, the platform could survive the wave of lawsuits coming its way. But YouTube needs to revert to what it once was: a place for people to upload videos. If YouTube can go back to its roots, then it will certainly survive.

Kirsten Kalebich, Arizona State University

Writer Profile

Kirsten Kalebich

Arizona State University
Major in English, Minor in Business

A dreamer who wants to become an author or editor. In her spare time, she writes countless stories on her phone and reads an insane amount of fiction.

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