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YouTube has paid more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and others over the last three years

The company still has work to do with creator transparency

Cannes Lions Festival 2018: Day 2 Francois G. Durand/Getty Images

YouTube has paid out more than $30 billion to creators, artists, and media organizations over the last three years, according to a new letter published by CEO Susan Wojcicki.

In Wojcicki’s first letter to creators of 2021, the CEO spent some time addressing YouTube’s growth. The number of new channels that joined the company’s Partner Program, which allows creators to earn advertising revenue, more than doubled in 2020. YouTube also “contributed approximately $16 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2019, supporting the equivalent of 345,000 full time jobs,” according to an Oxford Economics report that Wojcicki highlights.

The letter also focuses on the work YouTube’s team still has in front of them. Mainly, transparency, especially where content strikes and advertising dollars are concerned. Wojcicki noted that at the “scale we operate, it’s hard for creators to keep up with changing Community Guidelines.”

Wojcicki’s letter states that YouTube wants to be better about communicating changes to avoid channel strikes. After three strikes within a 90-day period, a channel is terminated.

“In December, I spoke with creator Charlie White from the channel penguinz0 after he tweeted about being given a strike for an older video due to a new policy,” Wojcicki wrote. “We know this situation is similar to frustrations shared by other creators.”

One example that came up after the 2020 presidential election was YouTube’s decision to ban any videos that propelled misinformation about voter fraud. The new policy went into effect in December, but YouTube gave a grace period for creators to ensure none of their videos violated the new policies.

YouTube executives have also faced mounting pressure to do a better job of moderating the site and preventing misinformation from spreading. YouTube is now shifting its focus to vaccination misinformation. “We’re always working to strike the right balance between openness and responsibility as we meet the guidelines set by governments around the world,” Wojcicki wrote.

One other interesting part of Wojcicki’s letter was a focus on regulation. A recent hot topic in tech policy circles is reform of Section 230, which effectively allows social media platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to operate without being liable for content people post. Wojcicki referred to Section 230 as an act that “enables us to both keep YouTube open and allow a large amount of content on the internet as well as take the actions necessary to protect our platform.” Although Wojcicki didn’t issue a stronger sentiment, she did bring up that the debate over Section 230 happening in Congress has caught the attention of creators like Hila and Ethan Klein.

Wojcicki’s full letter, which includes more details about creator revenue and an update on YouTube Shorts, the company’s answer to TikTok, can be read on Google’s blog.