YouTube appeared Thursday night to have reversed its decision on demonetizing the account of an independent journalist. It happened hours after Fox News published a story about the tech giant's "dangerous" actions.
Video journalist Ford Fischer spoke with Fox News about how his YouTube account News2Share was demonetized with little explanation from the company after raw footage he took from then-President Trump's Jan. 6 rally was removed.
Fischer was one of several independent journalists and commentators who were affected by YouTube's major crackdown this week.
"Demonetization" is the common term for stripping a content creator of the ability to make money from ads provided by, in this case, YouTube.
Hours after Fox News ran its story about the targeted journalists, Fischer announced to his Twitter followers on Thursday night that his YouTube account had been remonetized.
"I really am grateful to YouTube for taking that first step to remonetize my channel," Fischer told Fox News. "I think what it shows me is that they’re paying attention, but probably largely because of the news agencies reporting this - Fox in particular."
While many individual videos on his account remained demonetized as they were prior to his entire account being affected, Fischer was still hoping YouTube would restore his footage from Trump's speech that took place before the riot on Capitol Hill and that the company would reform its policy enforcement.
"I think the whole situation -- which isn’t over yet -- shows that human moderators are needed at the platforms to make reasonable decisions, and people should be able to appeal to a human who will review and explain their decisions," Fischer said. "Without YouTube stepping up with more human and reasonable content moderation, the unfortunate reality is that those who can’t get the attention of networks like Fox are going to be punished and not heard."
In response to multiple requests for comment, a spokesperson for Google, YouTube's parent company, pointed to a statement from TeamYouTube telling Fischer on Twitter that his YouTube Payment Program suspension was an "over-enforcement" but that his Jan. 6 footage was still "policy violative."
"Right now, we have nothing to share beyond this tweet, but will let you know if there are other developments," the Google spokesperson told Fox News.
Fischer was just one of several independent journalists whose accounts were demonetized this week. The others included progressive outlets like , , hosted by Jamarl Thomas; , hosted by progressive commentator Graham Elwood; and whose host has alleged that the money his audience donated to his show through YouTube's "Super Chat" feature was not only blocked from reaching him but was never refunded to donors.
Fischer is now calling on YouTube to remonetize their accounts as well.
Matt Taibbi, an independent journalist who advocated on Fischer's behalf on Twitter, suggested the growing actions against such YouTube accounts stems from , which was launched by YouTube's parent company Google in 2017. Project Owl modified algorithms to amplify what it describes as "reliable sources" or "authoritative pages" and rank them higher in search results in order to combat the spread of misinformation.
Taibbi told Fox News what YouTube is doing now is "more drastic" by making even raw footage from independent outlets "off-limits or taboo," even if the same footage was used by other mainstream media outlets.
"The clear goal is to disempower alternative media," Taibbi said. "The end game here is to force all content to be sifted through the filter of larger outlets."
Taibbi, who has launched his own newsletter on the subscription-based platform Substack, argued that America is moving away from a free press to a "journalistic licensing system" operated by Big Tech and that "you can only do the job if you're part of a larger structure."
"Their goal is to make the press part of the political establishment, rather than a check on it," Taibbi explained.
While much of the discussion of online censorship has dominated right-wing politics, conservatives aren't the only ones feeling the wrath of Big Tech. The progressive media outlet Status Coup has also clashed with YouTube in recent weeks. YouTube had removed a livestream of a peaceful gun rights rally that took place Jan. 18, but the video was restored after Status Coup co-founder Jordan Chariton vocally protested the decision on Twitter. On Tuesday, YouTube removed Status Coup's livestream of the Capitol Hill riot, alleging the footage is "advancing claims of election fraud."
The footage, which was captured by Status Coup cameraman Jon Farina, was licensed by several news organizations, including CNN, MSNBC, NBC News, CBS News, ABC News, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Associated Press.
Chariton called YouTube's actions "alarming and dangerous" and is urging mainstream media outlets to condemn "the onslaught of censorship against leftist channels."
"It's part of a broader trend by Google (YouTube) to purge their platform of independent and progressive channels their advertisers don't view favorably. They are doing it under the guise of removing extremist right-wing content," Chariton told Fox News. "It's puzzling to see our historic footage, that has been used by dozens of domestic and foreign media networks, removed when we were COVERING the events — not advocating or 'advancing' false claims of election fraud. ... It is corporate censorship by YouTube and other platforms to appease corporate advertisers."
Status Coup has not been demonetized by YouTube, at least for now.
A spokesperson for Google, YouTube's parent company, previously told Fox News "we will take a look" in response to several inquiries about YouTube's recent actions against these independent journalists.