YouTube blocks controversial conservative from making money off ads

YouTube on Wednesday announced it will no longer allow a conservative commentator accused of online harassment to make money from ads on his videos, just one day after the company said he had not broken any of the platform's rules.

In a tweet, YouTube said it has "suspended" conservative personality Steven Crowder's "monetization," a penalty that means Crowder will continue to stay on the site but will not be able to collect ad revenue. 

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Social media analytics website Social Blade estimates Crowder could have been making between $81,000 to $1.29 million per year from his channel before the change.

"Update on our continued review–we have suspended this channel’s monetization," YouTube said in the tweet announcing Crowder will not be able to make money from ad revenue on his videos. "We came to this decision because a pattern of egregious actions has harmed the broader community and is against our YouTube Partner Program policies." 

YouTube's demonetization policy, announced last year, allows the company to pull back ad revenue from creators who have caused "lasting damage to the community, including viewers, creators and the outside world." 

Crowder has come under scrutiny after Vox Media journalist Carlos Maza — who identifies as queer and is of Cuban-American heritage — compiled a montage of Crowder using a string of racist and homophobic slurs against him in YouTube videos, including "lispy queer" and the "gay Mexican from Vox." In the clips, Crowder mocked Maza's sexuality, at one point pantomiming oral sex with a microphone.   

Maza's supporters and YouTube critics have argued that Crowder's videos amount to a campaign of targeted harassment, in which he has continually singled out the Vox reporter over his sexuality and ethnicity for the past two years. 

The move by YouTube comes as the company faces accusations of conservative censorship from Republican senators and President TrumpDonald John TrumpSanders urges impeachment trial 'quickly' in the Senate US sending 20,000 troops to Europe for largest exercises since Cold War Barr criticizes FBI, says it's possible agents acted in 'bad faith' in Trump probe MORE. Conservative critics have been increasingly vocal about their belief that the country's largest tech companies routinely remove right-wing commentary from their websites. All of the companies, including YouTube, have denied all allegations of political bias.  On Wednesday, conservatives and far-right commentators denounced YouTube's actions.

Crowder's fans have also repeatedly "doxxed" Maza, posting his personal information online and sending him a deluge of hateful and harassing messages.  

YouTube in response to Maza's thread on Tuesday night said they had reviewed the flagged videos and determined they did not violate YouTube's policies. 

"Our teams spent the last few days conducting an in-depth review of the videos flagged to us, and while we found language that was clearly hurtful, the videos as posted don’t violate our policies," the company wrote. 

YouTube in statements circulated to reporters said they found Crowder was "debating." 

Maza, after YouTube's demonetization decision on Wednesday, tweeted, "So the f--- what. Basically all political content gets 'demonetized.' Crowder's revenue stream isn't from YouTube ads. It's from selling merch and 'Socialism Is For Fags' shirts to millions of loyal customers, that @YouTube continues to drive to his channel. For free."

YouTube clarified their demonetization decision in response to Maza's tweet.

"To clarify, in order to reinstate monetization on this channel, he will need to remove the link to his T-shirts," YouTube wrote in response.

It later added that Crowder will also need to address "all issues" with his account.

--Updated at 5:17 p.m.