Did this video get me banned from YouTube… for life?

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skitchedI have had a YouTube.com account for years. I use it for small videos for my blog but mostly for video episodes of the Amateur Traveler podcast. One day about 3 weeks ago I posted a new video for a contest (this video for NomadicMatt’s Costa Rica contest). Just a little while later someone pointed out that they could not see my video. When I went to youtube.com/chris2x I was informed that my account was suspended – no warning, no notice, no explanation.

I was perplexed. I have been studying and studying the YouTube Terms of Service to try and figure out some reason.

  • YouTube will terminate a User’s access to its Website if, under appropriate circumstances, they are determined to be a repeat infringer.
  • YouTube reserves the right to decide whether Content or a User Submission is appropriate and complies with these Terms of Service for violations other than copyright infringement, such as, but not limited to, pornography, obscene or defamatory material, or excessive length. YouTube may remove such User Submissions and/or terminate a User’s access for uploading such material in violation of these Terms of Service at any time, without prior notice and at its sole discretion.

I wrote YouTube but received no reply. Finally after repeated attempts to contact YouTube I received this email when I went to reopen the account:

Thanks for your email. Your “chris2x” account has been found to have

violated our Community Guidelines. Your account has now been terminated.

Please be aware that you are prohibited from accessing, possessing or

creating any other YouTube accounts.

YouTube staff review flagged videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week to

determine whether they violate our Community Guidelines. When a video or

account is brought to our attention we investigate and take action if

necessary.

We are unable to provide specific detail regarding your account suspension

or your video’s removal. For more information on our what we consider

inappropriate content or conduct while using YouTube, please visit our

Community Guidelines and Tips at

http://www.youtube.com/t/community_guidelines and our Help Center article

at http://help.youtube.com/support/youtube/bin/answer.py?answer=92486.

So let’s be clear.

  • I am banned, permanently if I read their email right
  • I don’t know how I might have violated their guidelines
  • They won’t say, and maybe can’t say how I violated their guidelines
  • Oh by the way, even if they did restore my account they say that all the videos and all the comments would be gone. All those blog posts that referenced these videos are broken.

Wow, I must be a pretty bad spammer. But, I am not. The kind of things that I have posted on YouTube are video episodes of the Amateur Traveler. These shows have been called many things (one of the 10 best travel sites on the internet by the Chicago Sun Times, “One of the 4 best adventure travel podcasts” by Men’s Journal, one of the best travel podcasts by Lonely Planet and the Podcast Awards) but never obscene. I very seldom use music and when I do I make sure it is music I have a right to use and use it with attribution as required. I only post original work.

My most popular videos are probably these two:

The only thing that I can think of… the only video that is, in my opinion, rated PG-13 is this video from a beach in Greece. What do you think? Do you think this video is the kind of thing that should get me banned from YouTube with no warning for life?

Do you rely on YouTube? If so, I would not recommend it.

UPDATE 3/4/2010

Thanks to help from CNet to the Rescue and @Rafe Needleman my account is completely restored. You have to have 3 videos reported as spam and verified by Google to be spam, but after they got a call from CNet they admitted that none of the videos that had been marked were a problem. See CNet to the Rescue! “Can you appeal a YouTube ban?” for details.

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by Chris Christensen

I am the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is an online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations and what are the best places to travel to. It includes both a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog.

34 Responses to “Did this video get me banned from YouTube… for life?”

Rory Moulton

Says:

That’s ridiculous Chris. I’ve enjoyed your YouTube videos on several occasions. This is great food for thought as I start to develop my video skills.I find myself using Vimeo more and more…

Mark

Says:

That is crazy and no explanation. I pulled over 100 of my videos from youtube a year ago after they didn’t accept me for the partner program and put them all on my own site, best thing I ever did, now I make money from them and youtube does not.

Jennifer

Says:

Oh, Chris, how frustrating! I’ve seen TONS of spam on youtube. Grrr. I hope this can get ironed out; you’re so clearly acting in good faith here.

Allison

Says:

Wow, Chris! This really stinks. I’m sorry it happened to you. I can’t even imagine what you posted that might have caused this. Do you think your account was hacked into in some way and there were videos posted under your name that you didn’t know about? That’s the only possible explanation I can think of!

Neil Kristianson

Says:

Chris, I wouldn’t make my business dependent on something I have no control over. All these community sites, such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc, have no loyalty to the user, as you just found out. It’s their game and their rules. Make your own rules! Unless it’s Google – then just shut up and take it.

Pamela Parisi

Says:

As these different sites are so intrinsic to the way business is conducted in our digital world I believe arbitrary bannings such as these have to be addressed legally in some way. Not too many decades ago, before women were part of the professional workplace as they are now, there were establishments in NYC that did not allow them to enter. During the 70’s I believe, this sort of discrimination was challenged in courts. Although I can’t remember the names of these places for sure, I think Keen’s was one of them. This is the catch 22; if you are of the age to remember certain events, the exact details fade in and out. Anyway the establishments argued that they were privately owned, so therefore allowed to “ban” anyone they wanted. If my memory serves me, which frankly it doesn’t consistantly, the counter argument was that since business was routinely conducted in these sort of places, not allowing women impeded their ability to advance. I think this is the same sort of thing that is happening here. If these sites are going to make a gazillion dollars because the provide a forum which becomes intrinsic to the way we do business, they should not just be able to ban someone without providing a specific reason and having to back it up. Just my 2 cents.

If anyone has a better recollection of the ancient events I spoke about please enlighten. As a side note, I remember the day when help wanted ads were categorized according to gender – Help Wanted Women, etc- by crackie.

Paul Copeland

Says:

Oh wow.

Lets just hope it was a accident and everything gets fixed.

chris2x

Says:

The account hacked theory has occurred to me as well, just because I am so stumped. But , of course, it still does not explain why their process does not seem to involved any notification or warning.

Jack

Says:

I wouldn’t be surprised in Youtube didn’t like the topless part, even if nothing was really visible… at all.

But that’s the only thing I can think of, and I doubt that should cause any issues. Youtube is pretty crazy :\

John

Says:

I am thinking your account got hacked and that is why you got banned. If it is any condolence, I got 4 of my videos silenced with no warning. I only found out through a subscriber. I emailed youtube and told them the use of the songs we covered under either the fair use or creative commons, but they refused to reinstate the videos. I don’t really care that much though, because youtube is not the only place you can post your videos.

Sherry Ott

Says:

Sorry to hear about your frustration. It was frustrating for me to simply read about it! I think the hardest part is that you can’t talk to anyone. I find it interesting that some of the biggest sites out there – YouTube and Facebook have little to no support and you’ll never be able to actually have a conversation with a human being.

I hope you can bring some visibility to the craziness of this!

chris2x

Says:

Thanks all for the support. @Rafe Needleman from CBS Interactive / CNet has a new obudsman role over there and he has some inquiries into Google that should help.

Jesse

Says:

I read about it before. Apparently someone can flag all the videos as inappropriate and youtube just takes them down without viewing them. I don’t know if this is true. The bad part is that they won’t tell why. Hope you’ll find out what happened.

Anil

Says:

One of the things I can’t stand about Google (who I rely heavily on and like their services for the most part) is how difficult it is to get in touch with anyone there. Finding an email is nearly impossible. Reading this post and story is frustrating to hear. I hope they do give you some explanation.

Lifecruiser Travel Blog

Says:

Crap! What disturbs me the most with this (and other similar things I’ve heard of) is:

1) No warning first.

2) No explanation!

That sux!!! Even though it’s a free service, as many of the others mentioned in the comments, this behavior is NOT acceptable.

chris2x

Says:

I still don’t know if it was a video that was flagged or what. It is possible as some have suggested the account was hacked. That’s probably the biggest frustration.

Some have suggested Videom. The problem is not where to host video, the problem is being banned from the #2 search engine in the world which is YouTube.

James Schipper

Says:

Google is well-known for banning accounts and never giving an explanation of any kind. With all the junk that gets posted on YouTube, I can’t imagine someone flagged that video as somehow inappropriate, so I’m leaning more towards the hacked account theory.

YouTube is the biggest, but not the only game in town. But as was mentioned, this is the problem with the cloud in general. Your work is not in your control. Places close up, have fires, or have horrid policies like this one and can delete your entire business.

Since Google will never give you any clarification, I hope you saved your work and have or are able to host it elsewhere with corrected links without too much trouble.

Crissy

Says:

Chris this seems crazy, especially since they wont even tell you why. I just took 5 minutes to write a letter to youtube on your behalf. It’s in the envelope waiting to go to the mailbox. Good Luck!

Donna Hull

Says:

If an internet company, such as YouTube, can take such draconian measures as to ban someone, they need to provide a way to discuss the issue. I hope you’re able to resolve this, Chris.

Lisa at The World is Calling

Says:

Argh! Totally frustrating. I think I’d pay for a superior level of Twitter and YouTube that had adequate customer service.

Marie P.

Says:

I seem to recall Google doing this to a number of music bloggers a few weeks ago – just pulled the blug with no heads up. Brutal!

Fingers crossed this gets resolved. What a pain in the rear.

Marie

Fida

Says:

The real frustrating part is that there is no communication. My business gmail account disappeared about 3 weeks back – I used every venue possible to contact them – to no avail.

I know from my forum that google closes adsense accounts without any explanation and you won’t have a chance on getting reinstalled with an other account, ever again – like you at youtube.

It’s especially frustrating because one doesn’t know if the account got hacked – in that case, other things may be at stake as well. I can’t imagine that they took your account off because of offensive content. Like already mentioned, there’s so much junk floating around – why would they choose you? All we can do is guess – and that is no way of conducting business.

And the ‘free account’ is no excuse either to treat us this way. I gladly would pay a fee if it means we can have a proper business relationship with a two-way communication.

I just started with video production – as frustrating as it will be not being able to use YouTube because of the traffic – I won’t.

The whole experience taught me not to rely on google. I know there is almost no way around them in the digital world, but when and wherever possible I will use other venues.

chris2x

Says:

I think Lisa has figured out the Google master plan. Make support so bad people offer to pay to get better support 😉

Jennifer @ Approach Guides

Says:

Sorry to hear this news. I had been following your account for a while and was hoping that someone at Google would hear your pleas and reinstate it. I hope that someone is able to help you out — you certainly have your audience following this very carefully!

Trisha Miller

Says:

It’s really scary how powerful both Google and YouTube have become, and how little recourse we have when we disagree with their decisions. It’s also appalling that they can get away with things like this, and there are no laws or other protection for us. I’m not sure I want the government involved, but other businesses have to abide by consumer protection laws, why not Google?

This has been excruciating for those of us who love your videos to see happen, but I’m glad you’re sharing your experience so that the rest of us can learn this painful lesson as well – don’t trust YouTube, period. Regardless how benign they may seem to most of us, they are NOT our friend.

soultravelers3

Says:

Wow! Shocking! I’m so glad you got it fixed. I’ve heard a lot of this type of thing happening with Facebook, Twitter , GMail etc. Ugh. BUT if you are innocent, seems like it usually get solved, but still.

We’re Partners with Youtube & have had several viral travel videos there, so LOVE Youtube and it’s benefits. Despite it’s negatives, it’s still the best game in town.

“the problem is being banned from the #2 search engine in the world which is YouTube.” EXACTLY! One of the MANY benefits that can ONLY be found on Youtube.

So glad this is behind you now. So sorry it happened!

jessiev

Says:

ridiculous. i am so sorry. UGH!!

Pauline

Says:

Hi Chris,

I _just_ discovered your website after reading the article on CNET regarding your blog issues with YouTube.

I can’t wait to delve into the content!

Please keep on keeping on with your site.

Regards from Carolina,

Pauline

chris2x

Says:

Welcome to the site Pauline!

Peter

Says:

Chris,

When you said that the issue had been resolved, I assumed that your channel would return to my list of subscriptions, but that didn’t happen. It seems all of your old YouTube subscribers have to re-subscribe.

Peter in Chicago

Rio Guzman

Says:

Good luck Chris! Thanks for warning us all!

JD

Says:

WOW!!!

Looks like those beaches must have partly naked people around that’s must be the cause of the problem.

Hope you got my message

Charlotte

Says:

Sorry about that, Chris! Sounds harsh 🙁 Sometimes Youtube is perplexing and unfairly so too. I just got my adsense account banned for absolutely no reason I am aware of. I got an “invalid clicks” notice, when I neither purchased views nor clicked my own ads. I tried to appeal but it was no use. Meanwhile, some people get away with real fraud…
Anyways, thanks for sharing your article.

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