Google and YouTube sued after extremist-content response allegedly robs revenue from popular zombie videos

Google and YouTube can’t tell the difference between touting terrorism and re-killing the undead, a new lawsuit claims.

The Mountain View search giant and its video-streaming sidekick are accused in the suit of choking off the revenue stream from Zombiegoboom, a YouTube channel focused on using guns, saws, axes and other weapons to slaughter attacking zombies.

Many of the videos, including “Homemade Zombie Killing Potato Cannon” and “Can a 10 Year Old Kill a Zombie?” have hundreds of thousands to millions of views.

The legal action arose in the wake of controversy over extremist content on YouTube. Google has taken a multi-million-dollar hit because YouTube advertisers, including major firms such as AT&T, Verizon and Johnson & Johnson pulled their ads after a newspaper exposé revealed ads were being paired with videos promoting terrorism and anti-Semitism.

But in an effort to comfort and win back advertisers, Google set up an ineffective screening algorithm and a secretive video-rating system that led to Zombiegoboom losing its ads, the lawsuit filed July 13 claims.

The two Arkansas men who own Zombiegoboom say in the suit that they were making $10,000 to $15,000 a month from the channel, before the changes slashed their revenue by 90 percent to 95 percent.

“This was despite the fact that viewership of creative content posted by Zombiegoboom remained steady,” said the suit, which seeks class-action status.

The two plaintiffs, James Sweet and Chuck Mere, claim that their channel was getting six million to 10 million views per month, “roughly equivalent to the number of views that a popular television show on cable would receive.”

A YouTube spokesperson said, “We have always worked hard to provide creators with the opportunity to earn revenue on our platform.”

After the changes, Sweet and Mere “were not even being paid enough to cover the costs of making their content, due to their videos being demonetized,” they claim.

YouTube had provided no warning of impending changes or new terms that channels had to abide by, the suit alleges.

“The only such communication received by Plaintiffs focused on YouTube’s desire to demonetize hate speech,” the suit says.

The men lost tens of thousands of dollars in revenue as a result of the changes, and after the de-monetization, a would-be buyer of the channel rescinded his $60,000 offer, the suit says.

YouTube ignored requests by the men for a review of their situation, the suit alleges.

The suit seeks certification as a class-action covering any U.S. YouTube content providers who have uploaded material since 2006, and whose videos were available for viewing on YouTube between March 1 — when the changes purportedly began — and the present.

Sweet and Mere accuse Google and YouTube of unfair, fraudulent and anti-competitive business practices. They are seeking unspecified damages.

YouTube in June issued a blog post concerning the changes to ad eligibility for videos. Not eligible is material with “hateful content,” “inappropriate use of family entertainment characters” and “demeaning content.”

“Many advertisers have resumed their media campaigns on YouTube, leading creator revenue to return to a better and more stable state,” YouTube said.


Photo: Technology workers are seen outside a Google office building (Bay Area News Group)


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Share this Post

  • EllaFino

    They don’t have a leg to stand on because even though YouTube may be the most popular video site it is not the only one. So the company can make policy that they believe is in their best interests with creators and users having the option to leave.

    • Lucretius

      Consider an analogous case: suppose a government wants to take a popular local store to run a road through it. Would the store be getting “just compensation” if the government were to say “there is a barren lot in another city where nobody knows you. You can start over again from scratch there, but we are only going to compensate you with the market value of that barren lot.”

      If yours is the best objection to the case going forward, it has excellent legs to stand on.

  • Tim Clark (Let’s Get You Notic

    It will be a honor to join this lawsuit, and when we win i will create the next YouTube with our winnings. The TRUE ‘Content Creators’ platform. Not a fake website like that was shut down by the FBI for hosting child porn & terrorist content. They were even funded by the same people that funded ISIS, i warned them not to F with me, now they are deleted. I also thought that Steemit was a good platform, it’s a scam, as soon as you really do earn money from that platform,they sick bots built into the platform to take your earnings. YouTube was good, i made over $150K from it, when they deleted my 30+ channels for supporting Donald Trump & Infowars. Now that the FISA Memo is out it only strengthens our class-action lawsuit (soon to join) and automatically reverses the deletion of my channels, content, etc. because we who are awake & not suffering from a brain disease have always been right, and will continue to be. I still have to look into the mirror, i still have to tell my kids, now adults, that there is hope, there is a God. I have bills, i have a business to run, i have famous clients to answer to. They also give me the freedom to what ever the F i want to do… I miss the $1000+ a day but i am rebuilding, you can search on YouTube for, Something New Now Media Promotions to watch all the content, RAW & unedited, because i really don’t give a F…

    Tim Clark (SNN), CEO
    Something New Now Media Promotions