YouTube will slowly start monetizing coronavirus videos following creator anger

YouTube is reassessing its policies in an effort to let some creators monetize videos they make about the novel coronavirus outbreak.

A few weeks ago, YouTube notified creators in one of its Creator Insider episodes that any video talking about the novel coronavirus or COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, would face automatic demonetization. The novel coronavirus was declared a sensitive topic, defined as a recent event with a “loss of life, typically as a result of a pre-planned malicious attack.” These videos are not suitable for advertising. While they are allowed to stay on YouTube because they don’t violate the content guidelines, creators can’t make money from the platform’s built-in ad service. That’s changing.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki issued a letter today to creators addressing coronavirus coverage and what it means for people who want to cover it. Creators like Philip DeFranco, who’s a source of news for many YouTube users, has covered the ongoing outbreak, for example. DeFranco joked about the instant demonetization policy on Twitter yesterday, prompting a response from Wojcicki. The CEO noted that the sensitive subjects policy “was designed to apply to short-term events of significant magnitude, like a natural disaster.” It’s clear that applying the same policy to an event like a coronavirus outbreak doesn’t work.

“In the days ahead, we will enable ads for content discussing the coronavirus on a limited number of channels, including creators who accurately self-certify and a range of news partners,” Wojcicki wrote. “We’re preparing our policies and enforcement processes to expand monetization to more creators and news organizations in the coming weeks.”

Monetization will roll out to select news partners and creators first. For creators, YouTube will start with people who accurately report how the content of their videos complies with advertiser-friendly guidelines. The company will continue to expand monetization to more creators in the coming weeks.

Wojcicki’s letter also addressed the spread of misinformation surrounding COVID-19 on YouTube, stating that the company is working hard to fight the spread of harmful videos. YouTube will “continue to quickly remove videos that violate our policies when they are flagged, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or claim harmful substances have health benefits.”

“Finding trustworthy content is especially critical as news is breaking, and we’ll continue to make sure YouTube delivers accurate information for our users,” Wojcicki wrote.