In terms of technology, Nintendo is “old money” to Google's “new money.”
But old and new are converging here on some pretty ugly grounds: by showing a shared arrogance that borders on hostility toward their own users.
Modded Warfare announced on Twitter recently that Nintendo had gone after him on YouTube by means of false claims, which the powerful video platform then translated into community strikes, in effect “crippling” his channel.
If you've been wondering why I haven't uploaded in over 2 weeks, my channel has been crippled by these false claims from Nintendo. Firstly I got another CTM complaint about Switch Tutorials #7 which resulted in a second community guideline strike…
— MODDED WARFARE (@MODDED_WARFARE) June 26, 2019
“If you've been wondering why I haven't uploaded in over 2 weeks, my channel has been crippled by these false claims from Nintendo. Firstly I got another CTM complaint about Switch Tutorials #7 which resulted in a second community guideline strike…With two strikes your ability to upload is disabled until the strike is resolved or expires. I got in contact with YouTube & explained the situation to them. After waiting a week they have now re-enabled my ability to upload but they are refusing to remove the strikes…So I asked them, why are those videos deemed to be in violation of the community guidelines? If the videos really are in violation of guidelines then they should have no trouble pointing out which policy they are in violation of right? Here's the response I got back.
“They are refusing to tell me why the videos violate the community guidelines, because they don't violate the guidelines. YouTube is acting on the request of Nintendo to remove the video despite the video not breaking any of YouTube's rules…This is the problem YouTubers face with YouTube right now. The rules are not clearly defined. Their stated policies are not the same as their internal policies. They don't apply their rules equally and they consistently allow large companies to abuse creators without penalty…
“I had a few switch videos I was going to upload but now I don't dare upload them encase I get another strike. As a precaution I'm privating all my switch videos until at least 1 of the strikes expires. You will be able to find my Switch Tutorial series over on BitChute…
“From now on all my future YouTube uploads will be backed up on BitChute and LBRY so if any videos are removed in future, you can always find them there. Please take the time to subscribe on those platforms if you want to continue to watch my content when YouTube gives me the boot”
The videos that rubbed the Japanese video games giant the wrong way were tutorials and instructions on modding the Nintendo Switch console.
Nintendo has a long history of going after creators and even game lovers in general. The company's style of relentless enforcing of intellectual property rights has in the past resulted in the shutting down of popular ROM sites.
It was of no consequence to Nintendo then that it was in this way undermining its own legacy by wiping out preserved, digital versions (ROMs) of the early classic games originally released on cartridges.
More recently, Nintendo and YouTube creators were falling out over copyright, fair use, and the company's attempts to monopolize the space by shoehorning YouTubers into Nintendo's own Creators club.
But the way Nintendo splits the profits there has made it an unpopular choice for creators, especially newcomers, who were seeking other platforms – at the time Twitch – to avoid YouTube demonetization.
There is once again unrest and talk of moving away from YouTube. Modded Warfare, who had been unable to upload new videos for several weeks thanks to the two community strikes, said on Twitter he would be backing up his videos to alternative video platforms.
In a series of tweets, he explained that going forward, his videos would be available on BitChute and LBRY, and invited his subscribers to join there as well – ahead of the “boot” he expects to receive from YouTube.
According to Modded Warfare, YouTube eventually restored his ability to upload videos, but did not remove the community strikes – and most worryingly of all, never really explained in what way the videos had breached the platform's community guidelines.
An email YouTube sent in response to Modded Warfare's questions admitted, “We cannot provide you specific details on what guidelines your content has violated.”
The decisions made against his channel, the email said, were the result of “careful investigations of our team of dedicated specialists.”
Now, in case you missed it, YouTube shows a message accompanying the 500 Internal Server Error that informed users about “a team of highly trained monkeys” having been dispatched to fix it.
That's an attempt at humor.
The email sent to Modded Warfare – not so funny.
“They are refusing to tell me why the videos violate the community guidelines, because they don't violate the guidelines,” the creator Warfare spelled it out on Twitter on June 26. “YouTube is acting on the request of Nintendo to remove the video despite the video not breaking any of YouTube's rules,” he writes.
The YouTuber then goes on to identify an obvious problem that is felt by creators across the platform, regardless of industry: a lack of clear rules, and the discrepancy between YouTube's “stated and internal policies.”
This is something that even Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently, to all effects and purposes, admitted to.
He was talking about the hardship of defining and policing hate speech, to remark that even content which “doesn't exactly violate policies” would still be removed – if the giant deems that to be the right thing to do.
There's also the special relationship between big companies, tech and otherwise, which often means they'll wholesale ignore their own rules or making them fluid to the point of crushing creators and ordinary users' rights.
As for Modded Warfare, currently, the status of his YouTube channel is determined by fear: his fear of earning another community strike before the previous ones expire, and sealing the fate of his effort on the platform.
Thus the creator has made all his Switch tutorials private until the situation has been resolved.
YouTube and other giants are ever increasingly being accused of stepping up their censorship and removing revenue streams from a wide variety of users.