Making a living on YouTube these days is harder than ever before. We all have heard from our favorite YouTubers about how unfair YouTube’s algorithm can be and how arbitrary the decisions of the company are.
On top of that, the policies that determined whether or not a video is advertiser-friendly and suitable to make money are still a mystery. YouTube has only given a loose set of rules to its creators, but nobody knows for sure what they are.
In this sense, keywords seem to play a big role in determining if a video gets the green checkmark or the yellow one (not eligible for monetization), and this is where channel Nerd City deserve praise, as they seem to have cracked part of YouTube’s code in their video titled “YouTube’s Biggest Lie”, in which they tried thousands of words that can instantly get a video demonetized just by being in the title.
YouTube’s Blacklist of words
Here is the full list: YouTube Demonetized Blacklist (archived version)
Using certain words is more than enough to get a video flagged. Nerd City, Sealow, the CEO of research firm Ocelot AI, and YouTube Analyzed channel, have compiled an extensive list of words that enter this criterion. To make this list, it was necessary to try each word manually using an otherwise suitable for monetization video, which would change its status depending on the words used in the title.
As a result, we now know what words can trigger YouTube’s bots to flag a video, but the result can vary and may shock you.
“The list is best interpreted as a list of negatively charged keywords, as certain words are deemed to be more severe than others” says YouTuber Sealow.
Most of the words are things that you would expect YouTube to ban on their website, such as pornographic terms, anything related to violence, racial slurs, insults, swear words, drug use, and so on. However, some of the words just don’t make sense at all – like “area”, “female”, “hard”, “restaurants”, “You” and even “Minnesota.” So yeah, forget about naming your video “Top ten restaurants that you must visit in Minnesota” as this would trigger YouTube’s bots to demonetize you in an instant.
Nor do you expect to make money by making a compilation of “dank memes.” That’s blacklisted too.
Speaking of bots, it’s no secret for anyone that the company relies heavily on bots to carry out their work for them, which is understandable when you take into consideration the amount of content that is uploaded daily to the platform.
Supposedly, these bots can learn from human workers when they deal with counterclaims from creators that submit their content for review. However, objectively speaking, it doesn’t seem to always be the case, as certain terms will get flagged regardless. Interestingly enough, some of these blacklisted words are LGBT terms, which further raises alarms among creators.
LGBT words are blacklisted
With YouTube supposedly leaning towards inclusivity these days and showing its support to the LGBT community, you would think that words such as “gay”, “lesbian”, and “trans” should be accepted on the platform; well, not quite, since these words have always proven to get videos demonetized in the past, as stated by multiple YouTubers. These terms are all on the researched blacklist.
For a platform that claims to be pro-LGBT, creators are not allowed to make a dime from the related content, if the blacklist is to be believed.
The explanation for this is not clear, and when asked about it, even the CEO of the company, Susan Wojcicki has denied the fact these terms could get videos not suitable for monetization. And remember, when a video is deemed as not advertiser-friendly, it is also less prone to show up in people’s recommendation and daily feed.
A strong theory suggests that because YouTube is a growing international platform, it also has to appeal to the values of countries where homosexuality is still illegal. In this line of thought, advertisers in countries of the Middle East, parts of Asia and Russia, might find it risky or inappropriate to show up in channels with this type of content.
Only allowed for large news networks
Even journalistic work is limited on YouTube unless you are part of some great news network like the “most trusted name in news”, CNN. Banned words cannot be used even for information purposes since the algorithm will detect them and demonetize the video.
Don’t even think about using terms such as “Brazil”, “Idaho”, “Muslim”, “Jews”, “Racism”, “Palestinian”, “Swastika”, and even the name of the 46th Vice President of the USA, “Dick Cheney”. All of these will get you demonetized if you use them in your title.
Although, YouTube does not seem to mind losing the ad revenue generated by these news channels since even CEO Susan Wojcicki has indicated that these are a tiny percentage of the content that the platform has.