YouTube Cuts Off Vlogger’s Ad Revenues Over Racist Content

Shane Dawson Ad Revenue Blocked on YouTube
Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images

The takeaways

  • YouTube suspended Shane Dawson’s advertising revenues after old clips of the creator using racial slurs and blackface gained traction.
  • Dawson is the latest high profile YouTuber to be demonetized for creating content that includes hate speech and sexual references to children.
  • The platform has suspended the revenues of accounts in the past, both purposefully and by mistake.

What happened?

The BBC reported yesterday that popular YouTuber Shane Dawson’s ad revenues have been suspended indefinitely. The platform took action after Dawson apologised for having uploaded multiple offensive videos.

An apology video, “Taking Accountability,” was released last week, addressing Dawson’s use of blackface, racial slurs and inappropriate content about children. The video arrived after clips of this content resurfaced, along with critical tweets by actor Jaden Smith. “Taking Accountability” currently has over 13.1 million views.

Dawson joined YouTube in 2008 and hosts three channels. Around 34 million are subscribed to them, including 22.4 million subscribers on his main channel. Social media tracker Socialblade indicates that the vlogger has lost almost a million subscribers in the past month.

YouTube and Demonetization

Although the relevant clips of Dawson are historic in nature, his revenue suspension has been justified by the nature and high profile of his content. The platform previously demonetized other controversial vloggers, including Logan Paul and JayStation.

Last year, YouTube tested an appeals process allowing ad-banned creators to upload short videos, while a number of users reported revenue losses after being demonetized by mistake. It is not known if Dawson plans to appeal.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Media Show, journalist Chris Stokel-Walker, author of YouTubers, speculated that YouTube was responding to the ongoing Facebook ad boycott and its own temporary shunning by advertisers in 2017. YouTube’s ad revenues reached $15.1 billion in 2019.

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