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Ethical hacking channel Null Byte outlines changes in response to YouTube’s ambiguous anti-infosec rules

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Many of YouTube’s new rules, policies, and algorithm changes this year have made it impossible for long-time YouTube creators to sustain their business on the platform. Now, the infosec writer, researcher, and teacher Kody Kinzie is reporting that he is another creator who is being forced to use the site in a reduced capacity because of rule changes YouTube has made this year.

In his latest video, Kody Kinzie said that over the last month no new content has been uploaded to his ethical hacking and infosec YouTube channel Null Byte and that he and his team have been taking down videos that have “somewhat controversial topics.”

Kinzie explained that the reason for this is because the Null Byte channel had received multiple warnings and a strike after YouTube added “instructional hacking and phishing” to its list of “harmful or dangerous content” in July. To avoid further strikes, which would prevent Null Byte from uploading videos to the channel and possibly even result in its termination, Kinzie said he’s decided to post shortened versions of Null Byte content to YouTube and then post the full versions of the content to his website.

The current rules around instructional hacking on YouTube are ambiguous and many creators in the space are unsure which types of instructional hacking content are allowed on the platform.

When YouTube added “instructional hacking and phishing” to this list of prohibited content in July, it said that the policies around “harmful or dangerous content” hadn’t changed and that this was just an additional example of content that was already prohibited.

However, shortly after updating this page, YouTube flagged and removed some videos from Null Byte and the channel also received some community guidelines strikes. YouTube ultimately said this was a mistake, reinstated the videos, and removed the strikes from the channel.

Despite reversing its action against the Null Byte channel, YouTube didn’t give creators in the instructional hacking space any guidance on how to produce instructional hacking content that isn’t in violation of its rules.

Kinzie’s announcement comes after many creators have been forced to make similar changes to their YouTube channels in recent months and either change their business model or host some content outside of YouTube.

Flo, the producer of World War 1 history channel The Great War, announced earlier this month that the channel is now increasingly having to rely on donations from fans after it was mass demonetized by YouTube. The channel has been creating content for YouTube since 2014 but will no longer be hosting future projects on the platform because of YouTube’s recent actions.

Major game modding channel MxR Mods is another huge channel that was suddenly demonetized by YouTube in September. Like The Great War, MxR Mods has been creating content for YouTube since 2014 and the demonetization means it’s now reliant on donations to survive.

Even creators who have been posting to YouTube for more than a decade aren’t insulated from YouTube’s increasingly creator-hostile decisions. In August, Cory Williams, the first professional YouTuber, announced that he too was leaving the platform after algorithm changes wiped out his livelihood.

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