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Cornell Tech researchers examined more than 130,000 YouTube channels and, in a study released today, recommended that the platform work with other services to identify and demonetize bad actors. These bad actors can easily direct payments elsewhere, and while YouTube can’t ban users from making money on other platforms, the company can partner with other platforms.

On one of the accounts flagged by the researchers, a channel called Turd Flinging Monkey (bear with me here), the first dozen videos were flagged as inappropriate. By YouTube standards, this account could be demonetized for posting problematic content. But it doesn’t matter what YouTube does, because that creator makes money elsewhere.

The account includes links to his BitChute profile, Patreon account, Discord username, and a number of other platforms, some of which allow the creator to get paid. On Patreon alone, the account makes between $900 and $4,000 per month. So even though YouTube demonetizes problematic videos, the creator is still able to share that content and make a living through other services.

“In general, alternative monetization is a good thing,” Cornell Tech researcher Yiqing Hua told Protocol. “But if YouTube really wants this demonetization policy to work, it should work with other alternative monetization service providers.”

Over the years, more and more creators have started directing users to platforms outside of YouTube. Cornell Tech research found that approximately 61% of channels use at least one form of alternative monetization, up from just 20% in 2018 and 2.7% in 2008. The more popular the channel, the more creators tend to provide subscribers with a link. alternative payment methods.

But the researchers found that the use of external payment methods is more prevalent among problematic content creators who may not be able to generate ad revenue on YouTube. For example, alt-right and men’s rights activist channels posted monetization links more frequently and tended to use a wide range of platforms to monetize.

Hua said these creators would explicitly tell their audiences that they can’t make money on YouTube, sometimes because of censorship. “And then they were telling their audience, ‘If you want to see more of this content, you should support me through this stuff,'” she said.

Many asked for donations through crypto and payment services like Patreon and PayPal. This simple request works: On Patreon alone, at least a dozen problematic channels have grossed over $100,000, according to the study.

Hua said that instead of restricting the ability to make money on YouTube, the platform could create a database of users who have been demonetized and share it with Patreon and others. This way, platforms can help each other identify bad actors and use their own respective policies to address them.

“Other platforms have different policies and they have their own process for making those decisions,” Hua said. “But to report these [users] is going to be very helpful as they can notice the problem and focus on the problem. »

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