YouTube's next clash may be with an army of its own creators (The Daily Charge, 8/20/2019)
The Daily Charge
Today on the Daily Charge, things are heating up for YouTube as they come under fire from the YouTubers Union.
Spokesman J��rg Sprave is here to explain it all.
Good morning, and welcome to CNET's Daily Charge.
It's Monday, August 20th, I'm Joan E Solsman.
I'm Ben Fox Rubin.
Let's get to today's deep dive.
[SOUND] A YouTuber union is making the most concerted effort yet to get YouTube to pay attention to what video creators on the platform want.
A group of 20,000 YouTubers joined forces with one of the biggest traditional labor unions in the world, called IG Metall.
This week, they set a deadline for YouTube to agree to formally negotiate with them, by late Thursday Or the unions will take them to court.
So what do they want?
Their demands include YouTube publishing the criteria of what it recommends, promotes, or allows to make money with ads, basically, share a big part of its algorithm.
They want other transparency, like explaining the specific violations that caused individual to get demonize, and they want representation.
They want YouTube to set up human contact people ,for youtubers so that they can address and fix mistakes.
And they want mediation and advisory boards So youtubers can have a say in what happens on the platform.
Ben, what do you think of all this?
That is a lot.
You gotta swing for the fences, right?
I guess so, yeah, you're not you're not going to get anything unless you actually asked for it, right, but at the same time, john, you cover YouTube a lot.
What are the chances that any of this is actually gonna happen is this realistic in anyway?
What I think is really interesting is we don't have a real precedent for how YouTube will address this new kind of pressure.
We've seen Google and YouTube face, especially recently, more labour agitation among their own workers.
But this is the first time.
That we're getting a group of small to medium size YouTubers coming together to have a unified voice.
And they have something that makes it legitimate, this IG Metall union.
It's the biggest union in the world that isn't a state sponsored on that forces everybody to join.
It's been around for more than 100 years and it's got deep pockets.
It's got the resources to When they say will take google to court.
They've got the resources to take them to the highest court in Europe.
So one of the other elements and I think is interesting about this is your story that published today that specifically you reached out to about 30 different bigger youtubers.
And hardly, I don't think any of them commented.
They either sent a no comment or they didn't even respond.
So It seems to me like they're treating this very carefully.
This is kind of the idea of a union is kryptonite to the folks, where YouTube the platform, is actually working for them.
I don't know if it's kryptonite.
But they definitely, you can imagine, I reached out to the 30 biggest YouTubers by subscribers that aren't actual media companies like the Ellen Show or Justin Bieber.
None of them responded because none of them wanna bite the hand that feed them, they make their entire fortune basically off of YouTube.
They don't want to align themselves against the company.
The company hasn't said exactly how they're gonna deal with.
All this stuff, but we interviewed the founder of the YouTuber union.
Jorg Sprave is a German video creator.
His YouTube channel focuses on slingshots that are basically on steroids, and he has more than 2 million subscribers.
He explained to us what the union is fighting for, take a look and stick around because we wanna hear your questions after.
So, the union has joined forces with one of the biggest traditional unions in the world and you guys have a big deadline coming on Friday, but the beginning of the YouTubers union Came about long ago.
Tell us about how this started for you.
Well, it started because I was actually witnessing the development in the aftermath of the so called apocalypse.
And things changed for the creators in such a way that I felt something has to be done about it.
Therefore I started the youtubers union with a goal To increase the situation of the to improve the situation of the youtubers,
So over the course of the youtubers union, you've been advocating for several things or transparency and how videos are recommended.
Why there to monetize better systems for appealing to monetization.
What's happening on Friday Well on Friday, this really depends on whether or not YouTube comes back to us.
The deadline runs out on Friday and then we are free to get it to start with our measures.
And we actually have three different things that we identified and also presented in our original video This means that we have two legal issues that we will follow up on, and then we have what we call [BLEEP] storms, and this means that we will get the community into action.
We now have over 22,000 members, and we believe that there is a lot of bad PR that potentially can blow up for YouTube, should they not talk to us.
Let's say we get to your deadline Friday, you don't hear anything from Google.
What are the [BLEEP] storms that you referenced before.
Well the [BLEEP] storms are actually actions where we will ask our followers to do certain things.
I am for strategic reasons do not want to Explain this in detail to you because otherwise we would lose the element of surprise and that of course cannot be but it will be things that will have never seen before YouTube and it will also be very entertaining and so we hope Hoping that this would garner a lot of attention from people and also from the press.
So you've joined forces with IG Metall.
They're taking point on the legal strategy.
Depending on how google responds to your demands IG matala is a traditional union and one of the biggest one of the oldest but this isn't a traditional unionization push you're not looking for collective bargaining right can you kind of characterize how this is a new kind of labor movement
Yeah with the youtubers union really isn't an organization it is a movement company organized Mostly in a Facebook group but also we do have a forum and a website.
But it doesn't really take in any membership fees or something so you don't get a membership card.
You just join our movement and this means that you're supposed to back up our actions if you like them.
So there's no obligations.
We're just fighting together.
We're standing together In order to change things, whereas the IJ metal, of course, is a completely conventional union trade union with the, of course incredibly structured and incredibly well organized, but also they have a lot of resources, experience and also political connections.
So why does this matter.
Because we believe that if you have to fight, or if you fight against a big internet company like YouTube or Google, then you need a certain number of assets.
The IG Metall, as I already said, they have the resources, also the money.
They also have the influence and they have the experience to deal with big companies.
But what they do not have is they do not understand the YouTube ecosystem and they don't have access to the YouTube community.
This is two things that the youtubers union brings to the table.
And I think the combination is really effective.
Google and YouTube are global companies.
YouTubers are a global community.
Why do you think that your efforts, along with [UNKNOWN] will have a global influence and not one that's limited to just Germany or Europe?
So the thing is that YouTube has to impose rules that are for everyone on the planet, basically, everywhere where at least they can be accessed.
So therefore even if it's a European law that we can use to put pressure on YouTube, ultimately the goal is that they change the rule and the system for everybody on the planet.
So we're just using it as leverage, and we hope that if YouTube talks to us, we will make YouTube a better place for everyone involved.
Because we believe that the changes that we demand will ultimately also be very good for YouTube.
Not just for the users and creators.
Why do you think YouTube should care enough to change the way that it does business when it already has a group that it can, in a way, already do that sort of interpersonal interaction with?
> And have the rest of youtube just sort of exist as it is what what is the impetus for them to address the needs of quote unquote smaller youtubers and
there's a great many youtubers that have between I would say 500,000 And 3 million subscribers.
And these people all have no chance to really talk to YouTube directly.
You have to be bigger than that to make it make a difference.
But these people definitely have a lot of followers and also they usually make a living as movies usually their main job to run the YouTube channel.
So it is a very important group.
We should also consider that YouTube does not only just live from the top youtubers even though of course these people get watched a lot, but it's also the diversity of the content that keeps people coming back to the platform.
So if all these other channels that are smaller and that YouTube by Now besides to not talk to
If they would go away, if they would be using some other platform or whatever, then YouTube's site would definitely lose a lot of popularity and ultimately go down.
It's very important that everybody understands that we're not trying to bring YouTube down.
We're not actually advocating any alternative platforms although of course there are some around but we're not doing that we all love YouTube and we want YouTube to be very successful because we are all in the same boat here.
I just think that YouTube overreacted to the apocalypse, and now it is necessary to bring things back into a sound balance so that everybody benefits.
That is our goal, not bringing YouTube down.
Now You Tube response about the union has been the same over the last month, the company says it is deeply invested in the success of creators, that's why they share the majority of ad revenue with them, they see You Tube needs to ensure user.
News and advertisers feel safe, and that the company takes a lot of feedback by meeting with hundreds of creators every year.
But they emphasize YouTube creators are not YouTube employees legally speaking.
So Ben, did you say anything that changed your mind Not exactly, but I'm pretty interested to see what these next steps are that he mentioned.
So for instance, he says, for strategic reasons he didn't want to delve into what exactly they plan on doing to embarrass you to bring them to the table, but it's kind of at some point the rubber is going to have to meet the road and they're going to have to see if any of those things have resonance.
And if the public starts paying attention to this kind of thing.
Yeah, and one of the things that would create the most resonance is having gigantic YouTubers come out and show some sort of solidarity, some sort of support.
As we've said the biggest ones, the ones that are most capable of drumming up buzz and interest in the plight of Smaller creators are the huge creators, and they're not talking there are creators that feel like they've been discriminated against on YouTube that will stand in solidarity with the union.
There's a group that's suing.
Just last week they filed suit against Google and YouTube because they're a group of LGBTQ plus creators and they say that their content is unfairly de monetized because it deals with issues of Sexuality, not necessarily in appropriate way, but that means they bump up against the monetization in an unfair discriminatory way.
So they're suing Google and they have no problem they've already said like If there's a hand that feeds them they're going to bite it cuz it's not feeding them what they feel like they deserve.
Well and that's the primary issue.
This is that the folks where the platform is actually operating properly, some of these folks like PewDiePie are making millions and millions of dollars.
In some cases tens of millions of dollars.
So why would they bother trying to change the system so.
And the union won't be fighting for their needs either.
It'd really be something they'd be out.
[UNKNOWN] for them to do.
Yeah, so we'll see what happens as far as certain actions that they wanna do.
We have obviously seen Google respond to certain actions, but at the same time, these were huge efforts by their own employees over the course of large pushes, big efforts.
So I would probably expect if they do expect to see Any sort of changes it's probably going to be a long haul for them for the daily charge and Johnny thanks for watching.