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Why? Arguments for our proposals and other notes

27 Nov 2019
Changes to YouTube's terms of service coming into force December 10, 2019: The lack of transparency continues
On 11 November 2019 we were asked by Kotaku to make a statement regarding the changes YouTube recently announced to its terms of service, planned to take effect worldwide on 10 December 2019. Although YouTube said to The Verge that the terms changes do not reflect planned changes to “the way our products work, how we collect or process data, or any of your settings,” we’re posting our statement here in full for archival purposes. Read →


25 Nov 2019
Google on the offensive against unions?
“Don’t be evil” — that was Google’s old motto. But now Google, which owns YouTube, seems to be getting increasingly involved with, shall we say, “the dark side.” According to a recent New York Times report, Google managers have met repeatedly with representatives of IRI Consultants, a firm best known for union-busting. Read more →


21 Nov 2019
Violations of EU data protection law (GDPR) can be very expensive
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) provides clear rights regarding personal data — and big fines for violators. Classifications of videos uploaded by YouTube creators in the EU are personal data — so YouTube managers may be running a significant financial risk by refusing to disclose these classifications to creators. Read more →


13 Sep 2019
No more targeted ads on videos “for kids” — a reasonable decision, but creators bear the pain
Targeted ads will no longer be allowed on YouTube videos “for kids” starting January 1, 2020, YouTube announced on September 4. Comments and notifications will also be disabled on these videos. Which videos are “for kids” will be partially decided by automated systems — the same kind of famously untransparent, capricious, and error-prone systems that already decide which videos to (de)monetize. Creators are worried – and rightfully so. And they are wondering: what’s left to make that can be monetized? It’s obviously essential to protect children’s personal data. But it already looks like creators will be made to carry most of the pain – and the risk – associated with these changes. In this context of ever-narrowing rules for monetization and ever-increasing regulatory scrutiny, the FairTube proposals for transparency and mediation are more relevant than ever. Read more →


5 Sep 2019
We are not alone!
Unions haven’t had it easy for a long time. In the 1930s, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president in the United States, it was widely understood that workers must be fairly treated and have a say in important decisions at work. In the 1970s and the decades after, though, this understanding disappeared. It’s a depressing history, from a union perspective. But Sarah Todd, Lila MacLellan, Michelle Cheng, and Hanna Kozlowska at Quartz have put together an article that highlights recent developments that give us cause for optimism. Read more →


30 Aug 2019
It’s possible to win against Google
In the far south of Germany on the shores of idyllic Lake Tegernsee in the Bavarian Alps is the “Bräustüberl,” or “Little Brewery.” It’s a cozy place. But on November 25, 2017, the coziness was abruptly interrupted. Customers told Peter Hubert, the restaurant’s proprietor, that they had googled the restaurant — and that he should be glad they’d come at all, because a diagram with blue columns had appeared on their smartphones that said: “Live: Very busy. Normal waiting times up to one hour and 45 minutes.” Yet the information was simply wrong, false: there were 20 tables free. It took two years and a lawsuit for Mr Hubert to get Google to hide the inaccurate, damaging information. But they did. Read more →


22 Aug 2019
How much work goes into a YouTube video?
“The first million is the hardest.” When YouTubers say that, they probably aren't talking about money; they're probably talking about subscribers. In Jörg Sprave's case, it took 7 and a half years, and thousands of hours of work. More work goes into YouTube videos than most people realize. Read more →


21 Aug 2019
Let's talk about money
"Don't talk about money" is a well-loved German saying. But let's talk about money. YouTube says they share “the majority of revenue” with Creators. But...which revenue exactly? Read more →


20 Aug 2019
The reason why you have to be famous now to make it big on YouTube
When Jörg Sprave uploaded the “FairTube” videos onto his YouTube channel, he expected that this would harm his income – as his usual audience wants to see slingshots, not Union videos. But the opposite happened: his views exploded, and not just on the Union videos. Over 90% of the additional views came from his regular clips. Why? The answer has to do with YouTube's recommendation system. Read more →


19 Aug 2019
Are Youtubers employees? A lawyer’s assessment
On August 5, the German financial newspaper “Handelsblatt” published an interview with Gerlind Wisskirchen, a labor lawyer and partner in the German law firm CMS Hasche Sigle, with the title “Labor lawyer sees hardly any chance for IG Metall lawsuit against YouTube.” In the interview, Ms Wisskirchen says that YouTube Creators, in contrast to Uber drivers, are probably not employees. Her argument is that the “activity” of the drivers on the Uber platform would make no sense without the platform itself — but that this is different on YouTube. But... is it really? A closer look reveals a (perhaps) surprising result. Read more →


17 Aug 2019
YouTube's statement to the press about our proposals - and our response. A video
We made a video responding to YouTube's statement to the press about our proposals. The video has some other good news too... Read more →


15 August 2019
Workers are not artichokes
The world of work is constantly changing. But one thing has not changed and will not change: human beings are not a commodity. Human beings have dignity. Today we can interpret this as: we cannot allow humans to become the subjects of abstract rules implemented automatically by algorithms. Read more →


14 August 2019
Alexa is a person
The extent to which “artificial intelligence” is really “artificial” may be oversold. We’re finding more and more that human workers are hidden behind the convenient, “artificially intelligent seeming” interfaces of these systems. Read more →


13 August 2019
YouTube's responses so far miss the point
We’re still waiting for an official answer from YouTube. For the most part, YouTube didn’t offer a response to our proposals when asked about them by journalists. But they did reply to Forbes. Here we present their statement and our reply. Read more →


10 August 2019
Famous FairTube: A video about some of our favorite press reactions!
The FairTube Campaign has received more press coverage than we can keep track of in the last few weeks. We made a video discussing some of our favorites. Read more →


8 August 2019
“There is some evidence that Youtubers are employees”
Is YouTube compliant with regulation regarding employment classification and data protection? Lawyer Thomas Klebe of the Hugo Sinzheimer Institute for Labour Law has answered this and other questions about the legal protection of Youtubers and other platform workers in a compact interview. Read more →


7 August 2019
“We aren’t going to tell you what the rules of the road are, but we’re going to hold you accountable to them anyway”
One Youtuber wrote that YouTube's system “is like telling somebody when they get their driver’s license, ‘We aren’t going to tell you what the rules of the road are, but we’re going to hold you accountable to them anyway.’” We think it’s a good analogy. If you like that one, we have a few more. Read more →


6 August 2019
YouTube Trending — how does it (really) work?
Videos from traditional media are more likely to appear in “Trending” — even when they have fewer views — than videos from independent creators. Read more →


5 August 2019
FairTube campaign goes viral
The FairTube campaign has been covered in media all over the world. Here we review a few highlights Read more →


4 August 2019
New video: FairTube news and answers to your comments and questions
Our video from last Friday announcing the FairTube campaign generated a ton of positive feedback, and press coverage from all over the world. There were also a few comments and questions. We made a video answering some of them. Read more →


1 August 2019
Who - or what - is YouTube?
YouTube is part of a whole universe of companies linked together. The parent company is Alphabet, Inc., founded in 2015 by Google founder Larry Page as a restructuring of Google. Most of the subsidiaries of Alphabet were projects or subsidiaries of Google, which is itself now a subsidiary of Alphabet. YouTube is still a subsidiary of Google. Are you confused yet? Read more →


31 July 2019
Employee? Self employed? What am I?
On today's agenda for the Bavarian Labor Court in Munich: a lawsuit from a crowdworker. In the lawsuit, the worker claims to have been falsely self employed by the platform “Roamler.” In a last-minute decision on Monday, the court moved the court date to November 6. But the case is still worth talking about, as it could have broad implications. Read →


30 July 2019
Does YouTube follow its own principles?
YouTube's about page says: "Our mission is to give everyone a voice and show them the world." It lists "four essential freedoms that define who we are": freedom of expression, freedom of information, freedom of opportunity, and "freedom to belong." But are YouTube's practices in line with its principles? Read →


29 July 2019
So that happened. First responses to our proposals
In the first three days our two videos had a total of over 200,000 views (over 159,000 for the English video, almost 50,000 for the German video). More statistics, media coverage, and some of our favorite comments from YouTube. Read →