A couple months ago we began our work week with some very startling and unsettling news. Over the weekend YouTube had terminated our Teton TV YouTube Channel. Both Jenn and Ben share their thoughts on this travesty.
They had no reason to do this. We have never been in violation of any policy or guideline and we have never received any strikes against our account. Usually a channel will get three strikes before the channel is terminated. Like I said, we never received one.
I am not sure if a bot went rogue and we were a casualty of that or what. I have heard of this happening more often than you would hope to see. If you do a Google search for “YouTube terminated my account”, you will find thousands of other companies and individuals in the same boat as we are now. And of course it is YouTube, which is owned by Google: the largest, most faceless behemoth on the planet. I can’t talk to a human about this to try and resolve it. I was directed to a webpage that had a link to appeal our termination. I filled it out and provided contact information. After not hearing anything in four weeks, I sent emails to some contacts at YouTube, thanks to Kin Nolan, and they directed me to an email address to send a new appeal. I sent a second appeal and also requested to know why the channel was terminated without ever receiving a policy violation. Within a day received an email back stating that YouTube would not reinstate our channel. It did not address my concern that we were terminated without ever having any strikes against us. My guess is that it was a pre-generated email that everyone in our situation receives.
So, just like that, four years of dedicated work is totally gone. We have backups of many of our videos but not all. We will begin the process of moving videos directly onto our website, Facebook and possibly Vimeo. Obviously, none of these have the reach of YouTube (for videos), but we want to have this content somewhere to access.
I am not willing to discuss my political opinions on tech companies and the powers they control. I only wish to say that I feel like they have way too much power. And as we all know from the great Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.” In my viewpoint these tech companies have vast amounts of power but are not wielding that power with great responsibility.
We had our channel shut down for absolutely no reason… A channel that we paid YouTube to promote to gain traction and followers. We always made sure to follow IP regulations as well as copyright laws. We went out of our way to follow all of YouTube’s policies and guidelines while creating a safe space for artists to share their music and tell their stories. We welcomed everyone we could fit into our schedule, who asked to come, be part of Teton TV. We spent years creating a platform that was entertaining and meaningful. And in one drop of the axe we had it all taken away, with no explanation or reasons given for it happening. This is frustrating and demoralizing but will not hold us back. Teton is a brand that has been built on hard work and grassroot efforts. We will move on and make something even better.
I want YouTube to be a safe place for people to gather. We provided a completely safe arena for musicians to share their art. I also want YouTube to be a safe place for content creators. We can’t work as hard as we have for four years just to wake up and have it all gone with no way to fix it and no explanation.
With this message, I call on Google and other tech “giants” to create better controls for their vast power and to focus on the responsibilities that come with so much force of strength. I call on YouTube to make things right for us and other channels which have received the same unfair terminations.
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Now Jenn’s thoughts:
Heartbroken, that’s my first thought. Utterly, completely, truly devastated. Guys! I spent hours on this channel. Blood, sweat, tears, orange paint, upcycled carpet and passion all down the drain and so quickly. One Friday afternoon I was updating a few things, the next Monday morning it was gone. GONE, just gone. Not inactivated, not suspended. Terminated. All. Of. It. Gone.
Frantically I began searching for a reason, better yet, a solution. There had to be a reason for this, an explanation for the actions taken by YouTube against my beloved channel. None to be found. Not an email, not a voicemail, not a text or notification within our channel. Nothing.
Panic was turning to anger. This was a mistake of the highest proportions. It was preposterous! We had done nothing in violation of YouTube’s terms and conditions. The opposite in fact. We had always been so careful to abide by all their crazy rules. It didn’t matter and it seemed at first glance there was nothing I could do.
The text messages, Instagram DM’s and Facebook messages started appearing from our Artist team and followers. People were looking for the channel, enjoyed the channel and used the content created there on their own websites. The most common question being, “The link on my (insert socials/website here) is broken. I went to fix it and noticed the channel won’t pull up. What’s going on?” I didn’t really have an answer, not one I was happy with anyway. There was a lot of, “I’m not really sure, we’re working on it” being sent back in reply. With every message of disappointment I grew more and more disheartened. What could I say to the guest who’d traveled all the way from Nashville to film with us? The one from Delaware? These people who used their own time, money and talents for US and now had nothing to show for it. There were times I felt sick to my stomach.
Ben covered the process of sending emails, filling out an appeal request and then another appeal request. Then we waited and waited and waited.
YouTube has upheld their misguided and misinformed decision to terminate our channel. I highly doubt they even looked at it, instead letting a rogue bot do all the responding and decision making. I’m still dumbfounded as to why the channel was in question to begin with and join Ben in calling out YouTube to revoke their decision. We brought music to our followers, from fans of our brand and Artists alike. I personally booked each and every guest for the studio, something I never took lightly in curating talent and diversity.
With a heavy heart, I leave you with a repeat of my favorite Spiderman quote, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” We all can and should do better to help uplift and strengthen each other. If music is the universal language, what do we speak now and where?
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