YouTube tightens rules around videos with external links

YouTube is adding new requirements for users who link out to crowdfunding campaigns or other external sites in their videos. Users must now join the YouTube Partner Program in order to add end cards with external links — a common way for YouTubers to point fans toward merchandise or Patreon pages. This limits the cards to channels with 10,000 total public views or more, once YouTube has approved them for the program.

A YouTube spokesperson says this is supposed to curb abuse of the cards by letting the platform individually evaluate channels before allowing them. Like many YouTube policy tweaks, the change has caused confusion among users, several of whom believed YouTube was intentionally blocking links to Patreon campaigns. The spokesperson, however, says that this change isn’t targeting any specific site.

YouTube’s interface now tells users to enable their channel for monetization if they want to add links, which has further muddied the waters. “Enabling monetization” essentially means applying to the Partnership Program, but users took it to mean that YouTube only allowed end cards on videos where it was running ads. The spokesperson says this isn’t the case, and that Partnership Program members can use the cards even if they never monetize any videos. In theory, this means users don’t have to worry about losing cards on videos that YouTube has demonetized for controversial content. Either way, the change doesn’t stop people from putting links in video descriptions; you just can’t put them front and center on people’s screens without approval.

This change essentially expands a restriction that YouTube placed on advertising earlier this year, when it only let people monetize videos once they’d hit 10,000 views. That shift was supposed to stop people from reaping rewards from sketchy channels that uploaded copyrighted material or ripped off content from other YouTubers. But the site doesn’t seem to have communicated this new rule very well, so it isn’t surprising that creators were worried, given the already tumultuous relationship YouTube has with its users.

Here’s the full YouTube statement:

In order to use externally-linking end cards in videos, creators are being asked to join the YouTube Partner program, so that we can evaluate the validity of the channel, as well as determine whether the channel is following our community guidelines and advertiser policies. This update is meant to curb abuse and does not affect current YouTube partners or existing end cards. Additionally channels do not have to actually monetize any videos as part of this requirement.


Knee jerk internet outrage based on misguided people misunderstanding something – part one million fifty eight

What is being misunderstood? Can you link to an external site without turning on monetization?

Can you link to an external site without turning on monetization?

So what if you can’t? What’s your point?

The point is why do you need to turn on monetization to link to an external site? And why is it hard to understand why that’s the point?

People were up in arms because they mistakenly thought YouTube was removing patreon links from videos that had been demonetized by YouTube

People are up in arms because they absolutely are removing links from channels that were never monetized in the first place. You didn’t used to need to monetize channels just to link off to your own web site. Monetizing is both kind of a PITA and many channels don’t actually want to do it – I run a channel for a small store to show off our new products, for example, and I don’t want external advertisements in front of it. So I never joined the Partner Program for this channel, and I never needed to. I had an approved site that YouTube let me link to anyway.

About a month or so ago I noticed that all those links/images on my end cards were disabled, and YouTube would just throw up an error message when I tried to fix them. I did some research and found out about this change back then.

You can turn off actual monetizing even if you’re part of the Partner Program, but the really annoying thing about it is that you essentially need an AdSense account now just to put a link in a video. That’s ridiculous. And given that I already have two other AdSense accounts and one of them was linked to the main Google account that I have this channel though, it was a major hassle to set that up. I didn’t want to use my AdSense account that was connected to that Google account (personal vs. business), so now I’ve got this tangled web of Google and AdSense accounts that require me to use three different browsers and multiple logins to keep from stepping on each other. And I really don’t see what AdSense should have to do with putting a link to a web site in a video anyway.

Wow. Do you reckon they’ll one day make a movie about your struggle of pushing one extra button to put your free ad links on another company’s website?

Oh, noes…crybabies expecting to make money for nothing are outraged that they’re actually going to have to work a little bit harder and jump through a few more hoops to get money they don’t deserve!

No. It’s not only Patreon. It’s any external site.

What would your reaction be if The Verge suddenly told you you needed to sign up for their ad program in order to put a link in your comments? And not only that, but if you didn’t, all the previous links you’d posted would be deleted?

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