YouTube terminated my channel!
How do I explain the trauma and grief I've experienced during the past 24 hours?
I'm writing this post on August 14, 2021. I'm sharing the information I have so far, which may or may not change. I will update this blog as new information develops.
On Friday, August 13th, that's right it was Friday the 13th, my husband (Jason) woke me around 5:30 am, saying, "Hey we need to look at your Youtube channel." Why? I asked. He followed by saying, "it's most likely a glitch, but we can't find it."
Immediately my heart sank. It was my nightmare coming true. Waking up to find that Youtube had terminated my professional family-supporting youtube channel without any warning. I did not have current strikes and ever since receiving my first strike the year prior I'd made a sincere effort to avoid making videos on the supposed content Youtube did not allow.
This becomes confusing without understanding my content and my journey on Youtube, so if you're new here, welcome and let's go quickly down memory lane.
Natural Kaos Youtube Channel History
In June 2018 I posted my first Youtube video. When I started my Youtube channel I was not clear on what I wanted to do. At the time I was hooked on essential oils and I decided to make a video on "How to make glass cleaner." Like most new channels I received very few views. However, I dreamed of having a Youtube channel for a long time, so no matter what, I was determined to build a professional channel.
From day one, my channel was never a hobby, I was serious and I had dreams. I made the goal in the Summer of 2018 to be monetized by the end of the year, (which meant 4000 watch hours and 1000 subscribers). I had a handful of subscribers and very few minutes watched let alone watched hours. This did not deter me, I had faith in myself that I could accomplish this goal. During the summer and into the Fall I was sharing makeup, unboxings, cooking, traveling, and some skincare; the content was all over the place because I was testing and developing as a creator.
My brother's fall wedding was approaching and for years I'd been peeling my face with TCA (it's an acid), so I decided I would film and share this at-home process. I had very high hopes for this video and within a week it was starting to gain momentum. I decided I would also make a microneedling video to follow, both quickly took off. I'd found my channel's niche, "DIY skincare", this was the content that the algorithm was pushing and it was resonating with people. So like any entrepreneur, I buckled down and made every skincare video I could think of and accomplish.
By December 2018 I had 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours so I applied for the Youtube partnership program. On Christmas day, I watched the first ad on my channel, it was a United Airlines commercial and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I was so proud of myself!
I'm a stay-at-home mom with four little boys and I accomplished in 6 months what most people can't.
Most people can't make Youtube a viable business because most can't sacrifice enough. I created a Youtube channel from scratch, edited every single video myself, and put out 3 videos every week to capture my goal of monetization. In order to do this workload alone, and put out the quality I create I missed a lot of my boy's lives that initial year, and now, even 3 years later I still do, the sacrifice to make Youtube a viable source of income never stops.
We live in California and although I have a 4-year degree from BYU Hawaii I wanted to stay home with our children. I was focused on monetization so my family could have more financial freedom and enjoy more life experiences. Even soccer or swimming for all 4 boys was very difficult to afford before my channel started producing revenue.
Our single-family income was never enough, and as our boys grew I didn't see how my husband's income alone would provide sufficiently. I would have created and shared any content that would have resonated with viewers and that the algorithm would have promoted; which is why my first 3 months covered many topics. In the end, I'm grateful it was my skincare videos that took off because my skin has transformed and my journey has empowered so many others to better care for their skin at home.
1 YEAR IN
In May 2019 I have my first encounter with YouTube not following their creator partner agreement.
I've almost completed my first year on Youtube and I've been monetized for 6 months. At this point between my Youtube Ad Sense, Amazon, and other small affiliate programs, I'm making about $2000 per month. Again, here is the reality and sacrifice. I'm working 100+ hour weeks to make $2000 per month. I'm missing out on everything with my children, hoping and believing that I'm building something that eventually allows me to step back and have the time with them I crave, and I've been doing this for nearly 12 months straight.
During the month of May, I upload a lip filler video. First, I didn't realize this would be a problematic subject as Youtube is full of lip filler videos, created by professionals and non-professionals. As I soon came to learn big pharma and big tech do not like this content.
My lip filler video had been up on Youtube for 2 weeks and had gained 40K views which for a small channel like mine was incredibly exciting. During this time frame, I received a direct message on Instagram from one of the stateside lawyers who worked for Merse the pharmaceutical company that made the lip filler I used in my video. She asked me if I would remove my video from Youtube because the Belatero that I had used was not yet FDA approved and they did not want my video compromising their approval. I told her I bought this product from their distributor in the UK, I used my AMEX to purchase it, and it was a video I worked very hard on for my business and I would prefer to keep it.
On June 10, 2019, Merse Pharmaceutical filed a False copyright claim and Youtube removed my lip filler video. You can read more about this fake copyright claim here. Basically, Youtube allowed this fake copyright claim to stay, even though we hired attorneys and said to take us to court and make Merse prove our copyright infringement...they would not.
After spending $5,000 on lawyers to get YouTube to honor their policy of these claims nothing ever happened, then 18 months later I received a notification that YouTube decided my lip filler did not violate Merse copyright. Was I ever made whole? Did I ever receive compensation or reimbursement? Of course not, this is the real nature of YouTube. No matter what they say in their creator videos about supporting their creators, it's a complete farce! I've personally seen YouTube violate its own policies too many times, which is why I started a private Facebook group, a place for my followers to be together and share in the event YouTube simply terminated my channel. I no longer trusted YouTube, they seemed incapable of following their own policies.
Below is what YouTube says it does in copyright infringement disputes.
After I counter the copyright infringement and sign and agree to everything, claiming this is my original work and that Merse is fraudulently holding down my video, Youtube is supposed to send my information to Merse and after 10 days Merse has to show proof that they are taking me to court over this copyright claim or YouTube is supposed to release my video.
This never happened. Merse never provided proof within the 10-day timeframe that they were taking us to court and I never heard back from YouTube. They never responded to our attorney's letters and I was simply ignored. 18 months later all of a sudden I get the video back. Is anyone else confused? Me too and this is how YouTube helps and supports creators.
If YouTube cannot follow its own policies how can creators follow them? How can anyone know what is right or wrong, or what will anger the all-powerful YouTube?
I cleared 100,000 subscribers in June 2020.
Almost exactly 2 years after starting my channel, I had over 100,000 subscribers and that summer I received my Silver Play Button, the plaque YouTube sends creators who reach this milestone. Most channels will never come close to this growth and I felt like my constant grind for 2 years was paying off. We had a thriving channel, multiple videos each over a million views, and many more videos with hundreds of thousands of views. My videos were doing very well and all these views made ad revenue. I was now having 5 figure months which was great because I now employed a full-time editor to assist with the workload and I had other employees running my private group. I had created a business that was blessing others from scratch.
As a female, as a mother of 4 children, and as a person who loves to create, I'd found my place in this world, and I felt so proud and accomplished of what I had built.
This is a little video from when my 100,000 subscriber play button arrived. I thought it was interesting how the letter from YT said that this achievement could not be taken away from me. It seems like they lied again. Further, if my channel violated so many policies then why not tell me at the time when they are issuing this reward?
During the fall of 2020, I received a warning for the removal of a botox video I had put up a year before. Because of the previous lip filler video, I decided not to show any packaging of the botox or where I got it from. This way big pharma wasn't being called out and youtube didn't have to protect big pharma from all the different ways they sell products. And there were so many others on Youtube with these videos why would I think this is against community guidelines. Further, if it is against community guidelines youtube will let me know to remove it. That video was up for nearly a year before YouTube removed it and issued the warning.
A month later they gave me my first strike for a threads video I made. Again there were so many thread videos all over youtube why would I think threads are against community guidelines, I mean you can buy them on Amazon.
This was the first time in 2.5 years I could not post for a week, now I understood I cannot post anything where I'm sticking needles into my face. Understood.
In October of 2020, we launched our Natural Kaos private app which is available for download on both app stores, to learn more here.
Following October 2020, I knew from the strike youtube issued that I would not be sharing anything else that had needles or injection type of content. This was frustrating as there are plenty of other creators who are able to share in this way such as this channel, Bikini Iron Beauty.
Further, the sites that YouTube claims they don't want me linking to which I only slightly inferred from the termination are still thriving. In fact, they have a YouTube channel that is still up.
It's disgusting that sites that sell non-FDA-approved products into the US are able to have a YouTube channel, but I'm not? I'm not even selling these products. I sometimes use them and so I linked to them and certainly would have removed those links had YouTube ever provided insight prior to my termination. Instead, they terminate my channel without following their strike policy and add insult to injury by allowing all other DIY Beauty channels to remain and allow the actual vendor to remain. If this isn't a clear case of discrimination in the workplace I'm not sure what else you would term it.
It was nearly a year since I received that initial strike. Strikes only last 90 days so in January the strike fell off of my account. A warning remained, but no active strike.
As previously mentioned, I woke up on August 13th, 2021 to my channel being terminated. No email from YouTube was ever received. All my subscribers rushed to Twitter to notify @teamYoutube that my channel was gone and everyone wanted to know why. Finally, the Twitter account replied and said that they would look into it.
On August 15th I received an email from Maya from Youtube with community outreach. She acknowledges how difficult this has been and that she would help. I was immediately comforted.
This is the first email I received from YouTube and this was because we went to Twitter to get attention and find out what happened.
It's interesting to me that Maya knows why my channel was terminated at this point before I do. She sites that my channel was terminated for violating the harmful or dangerous content policy. This is the first time I get this feedback from YouTube.
She says she will look into it because of the conversations that were had on Twitter. On Twitter I never said I had not had a prior strike, I said I did not have any current strikes, and that I had not received an email from YouTube explaining what was going on.
I was extremely hopeful that they would see that I did not have any current strikes and that if they did have issue with something on my channel that they would tell me and hopefully let me correct it.
I responded that I was so grateful that she contacted me and that I wanted to solve and correct the issue.
On August 16th I received this vague explanation, that my account would stay terminated and that there was nothing I could do about it.
In this response, she sites 2 videos that she claims have current strikes. First, she sites the video botox video that I did receive a strike for last year, that strike expired in January 2021, and further that video is no longer on my channel so I don't see how it meets any criteria as a "current strike".
Then she sites a video that was in fact up. In fact, up to the last day, I could see my channel, "where to buy bo"tox" online" was a video where I was not doing any dangerous acts such as self-injecting because that's what I thought was the original issue. It did not have a strike before they terminated my channel.
It's obviously in their power to do anything and if they wanted to issue me a strike for this video and a strike for the links, I would have accepted those and use those 2 weeks to clean up the channel. The last thing I wanted to do was lose my channel.
Again, even though YouTube is full of these kinds of videos and links, I understood that I could not put them on YouTube and was living by those rules even though they were inforced unfairly.
She concludes that my channel was terminated due to the sale of illegal or regulated goods or services. I believe the links back to Korea are why they terminated my channel. I told them I would remove the links and any other content they thought was a problem, but it's been useless. Maya has not responded since she wrote this on August 16, 2021.
Did I make mistakes including these links? Yes, I did and it's my fault as a creator to not have understood YouTubes policies better.
This is YouTubes explanation of the sale of regulated goods.
It's frustrating because if you use their example of links to online pharmacies then so many creators should come down as so many skin channels link to places to purchase Retin A without a prescription. Should YouTube remove all of them?
Do I need a prescription for the products I use on myself? I don't know because I've never received a prescription for "Botox" when I've received an injection from a doctor's office.
Amazon carries products such as PDO Threads, which were items I used in the past but no longer share because YouTube didn't like my PDO video and had me remove it. I thought they didn't like me showing the threads being inserted. My take away from this initial, very vague experience was that I cannot share content like this because they told me it was dangerous. How was I suppose to understand that it was the links to where to buy these threads that they didn't like. If I had linked to Amazon instead of Korea for these threads would it have been ok? You don't need a prescription for PDO threads.
They claim that they will give you strikes so you can learn what these issues are and how to improve. I took my initial strike seriously and didn't make "dangerous" content further. If they had explained we just don't want you linking to Korea then that would have also helped. Either way as a creator I assumed if there were more issues that I didn't understand I would receive a strike and correct my error.
When she says my channel is dedicated to a policy violation again, believe me, I did not want to be dedicated to a policy violation. I want to create, share and stay in the good graces of YouTube. I have asked for them to check videos and when they do they come back and tell me this video can be monetized or this video cannot but is allowed to be on YouTube. This was the case with my original botox (Nabota is what I was using) video. I'm positive they have the history of this exchange and yet they don't take any responsibility in carrying the burden of attempting to understand what is ok and what is going to get me terminated.
In 2019 when the human being at YouTube who checked my Nabota Tox video returned and told me I could keep it on YouTube it just couldn't be monetized, why would I as the creator think this video violates community guidelines?
When they claim they terminated my channel based on the idea that I was dedicated to a policy violation, it's extremely unfair. As YouTube creators, we have a back-end studio where we can set up aspects of work that automatically populate such as the video's description. The settings on YT would populate every video, so yes whether it was a family vacation, a girls trip, or a closet makeover those links were there as well as links to everywhere else. People ask constantly about products, so the description box becomes an easy place to quickly send inquiries.
In over 450 videos I had around 10 videos that were directed at Korean companies, so besides the links; which granted that is my fault and I've apologized, I've asked them to place me on probation and that I would prove that I understood what their concern is; how am I dedicated to this policy violation which I am now getting feedback addressing?
Why would they just terminate my channel rather than looking at the body of work? The body of work tells a different story. Yes, I microneedle my face and I use acid to peel my skin in the fall but how is that wrong?
Finally, if it is about the links then why not terminate the brands that actually sell the product and ship them into the US? Why does VianaCare who is clearly everything this policy is directed towards not Terminated? Why isn't Bikini Iron Beauty and others terminated as well, these DIY Beauty channels are dedicated to these policy violations. The thumbnails alone speak volumes. Then look in their description boxes you will see link after link to Korea.
Obviously, I would have removed these links if I understood from YouTubes guidance these were a problem. I'm actually attempting to follow their policies but these other accounts are not and this is proof, I think they know the links are an issue and so they don't add the https which would make them clickable.
This is Viana Care's description box and in it, they do not hyperlink back to their website, but they tell you to "Hurry and get 20% off on 100+ products" on their site with the included web address.
This is on purpose to circumnavigate YT because if you look lower they know how to hyperlink, and they have no problem linking to Trustpilot and all of their social media platforms.
This could go on forever but here is another DIY Beauty channel that specifically knows the policy and like VianaCare is circumventing it by giving you her code and sharing where you can get it but not linking. However, this creator knows the difference between a clickable link and a non-clickable one because just below this you can see amazon affiliate links.