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A new policy amendment by Youtube has cut advertising on videos that contain controversial news content,  including videos that promote alternative political views. As a result, at least one popular alternative news media site with hundreds of thousands of subscribers has lost a major source of income. (Note this story has been updated with an official YouTube statement in the final paragraph)

Previously, videos on Youtube that were banned from advertising included sexually suggestive content, violence, inappropriate language, and promotion of drugs.

The new policy amendment has now added to that list videos that discuss “controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.”

The page that outlines Youtube’s policies regarding content deemed appropriate for advertising can be found here.

Popular Youtube channel StormCloudsGathering, which has more than 465,000 subscribers has been severely affected by the new policy amendment, according to the channel’s owner.

In his recent video “StormCloudsGathering Is Under Attack- Major Changes Coming”, the channel’s owner - who goes by the name Aaron - discusses the effect this new policy has had on his lifestyle, particularly the fact that it has caused him to now “live under the poverty line.”

According to Aaron, his contact within Google confirmed that the advertising has been pulled because of the subject matter of his videos. In an email letter from YouTube to Aaron, he was advised to no longer make videos about war but to create more “advertising friendly” content.

The video, made by the father of two young children, has caused alarm bells to ring within the alternative media community on YouTube. Many rely on advertising as a primary source of income.

In his video, Aaron claims that, around 2013, “I started having videos demonetised with no explanation; these videos are always the ones that challenged the official narrative on highly charged topics; videos that talked about what the US government was doing in Syria, Iraq and Ukraine; videos that embarrassed politicians and corporations; videos that exposed US government involvement in terrorist activities.”

In addition, Aaron asserts that “on these takedowns, there was no notification, no reason given, no way to appeal.”

Aaron also states that, whilst initially these takedowns occurred one video at a time, in 2015 “something changed. Suddenly, 56 of our videos, dating all the way back to 2013, were instantly demonetised. This included almost all of our most successful videos, some of them with nearly 3 million views.”

During this commentary, text shown in the video claims that “this bulk update INSTANTLY put us under the poverty line.”

Within the video, Aaron surmises that whether Youtube decides to demonetise certain videos is dependent on the political topic they address.
Specifically, he claims that “there are certain things that somebody doesn’t want me to talk about. This message has been sent in numerous ways.”

Aaron then proceeds to parody a popular Southpark meme in stating “If you talk about Israel, you’re gonna have a bad time. If you talk about what the US and their allies are up to in Syria, you’re gonna have a bad time. If you present evidence of war crimes and [you] name names, you’re gonna have a bad time”. He then poignantly adds that “Trouble is, I feel morally obligated to address these issues, even it means working for 1 month, or 2, or 3, and often it has.”

Aaron concludes in the video that the only way he can make ends meet while continuing to provide content on his channel is to ask for donations from his subscribers - something he has by principal abstained from doing.

When asked for comment, Google Australia spokesman Shane Treeves told iTWire that he was unaware of the issue, but if we sent him an email, he would “forward it to someone who knows.”

YouTube has since issued an official response: "While we don't comment on individual channels or videos, we have stringent advertising guidelines, and we may choose to stop placing ads against any video if we receive advertiser complaints or determine that the content of the video is not appropriate for our advertising partners."

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