Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms

Demonetization

Cite this article as:
Nicolo Zingales and Catalina Goanta (17/12/2021). Demonetization. In Belli, L.; Zingales, N. & Curzi, Y. (Eds.), Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms (online). FGV Direito Rio. https://platformglossary.info/demonetization/.

Author: Nicolo Zingales and Catalina Goanta

See also deplatforming/de-platforming.

Demonetization refers to unilateral action in the form of a sanction that a platform (traditionally a social media platform) takes in order to remove a creator/influencer’s access to the streams of revenue the platform controls. As indicated under two other relevant entries (‘Content creators/influencers’ and ‘Content/web monetization’), one of the business models through which users can make money on platforms such as YouTube or Instagram (less so Facebook) is the monetization of their content through platform-specific programs, allowing advertisers to display ads in various forms (e.g., banners, multimedia clips) throughout or over their content (Goanta, Ranchordás, 2020)1. Compared to deplatforming, which entails the removal of a user, demonetization is a less stringent sanction, as it only removes potential income for particular videos. Demonetization can take place in two ways: income can be completely removed, or it can be redirected. The latter situation can occur when a creator receives a copystrike, and the claimant of the copystrike has copyright over the material used by the creator. This way, the claimaint of the copystrike can ask for the ad-generated income on the video of the creator infringing their copyright.

Demonetization is closely related to content moderation because it is a way in which platforms control content. However, due to the inherent characteristics of private governance, such as the lack of transparent criteria for the interpretation of community guidelines in determining which content is in contravention to these rules, platform discretion is a serious problem in the content creator community (Caplan, Gillespie, 2020; Lobato, 2016)2 3.

Additional problems with demonetization concern the content creators’ rights to due process and to an effective remedy. For example, although an appeal process is available on YouTube, this does not compensate for the loss of revenue that occurs when consent creators are deprived of monetization in the first hours after publication, which are likely to be the most remunerative ones (Caplan, Gillespie, 2020)4, and sometimes even for months (Koi, 2020)5. Further, it has been noted that YouTube’s policy establishes that only those creators who have at least 1000 video views in a week, or 10000 channel subscribers can request a re-evaluation of demonetization by a human being. This has been criticized as establishing a ‘tiered governance’ system (Caplan, Gillespie, 2020)6, where the rules governing the relationship with creators are different depending on their monetization potential. While this may be economically sensible, it is in conflict with the universal and unwaivable nature of fundamental rights.

References

  1. Goanta, C., Ranchordás, S. (2020). The Regulation of Social Media Influencers. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  2. Caplan, R., Gillespie, T. (2020). Tiered governance and demonetization: The shifting terms of labor and compensation in the platform economy. Social Media+Society, 6(2).
  3. Lobato, R. (2016). The cultural logic of digital intermediaries: YouTube multichannel networks. Convergence, 22(4), 348-360.
  4. Caplan, R., Gillespie, T. (2020). Tiered governance and demonetization: The shifting terms of labor and compensation in the platform economy. Social Media+Society, 6(2).
  5. Koi, C. (2020). YouTube Help. Wrongfully demonetized, how many months without revenue on average? Available at: https://support.google.com/YouTube/thread/56781687?hl=en.
  6. Caplan, R., Gillespie, T. (2020). Tiered governance and demonetization: The shifting terms of labor and compensation in the platform economy. Social Media+Society, 6(2).

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