Such is the accusation of numerous vapers who have turned against the world-famous video-sharing platform. Increasingly, YouTube is being criticized for removing certain content related to vaping due to pressure from anti-tobacco authorities.
Already seen in a biased light in the world of politics, certain vaping devices like the Juul (not them again!) are at the centre of the controversy.Suspected of encouraging young people to turn towards smoking, use of the Juul has been heavily criticized, with new regulations prohibiting the sale to minors. The company Juul Labs has thus requested removal of content representing its products and targeting young people, which YouTube has already done. The company’s products were featured on the web, thanks to test videos and consumer reviews.
Today, as a result of YouTube’s initiative, most of the content has disappeared. Following new FDA measures in 2016 linking vaping products to tobacco addiction, YouTube has also removed the “monetisation” feature of vaping-themed video content. Consequently, views on these videos will no longer provide income for their creators.
Deleting content may hinder freedom of expression
Faced with YouTube’s recent attempts to limit views on vaping-themed videos, YouTubers are now on high alert. Creating videos takes a time and energy and is a potential source of income for many. By greatly reducing the amount of potential viewers, many are crying foul by citing an affront to freedom of expression.
Up until now, deletion of content was limited to videos containing illegal substances. But now vaping is also in the cross hairs. Certain Internet users, like Ruby and Nick GrimmGreen, have been vocal about their fears, posting a video of themselves gagged by the YouTube logo. Others prefer to leave the website, and are hoping for new platforms that might be more open to such content (on platforms like Vimeo, or Twitch). Faced with this new form of censorship, certain vape users started Vape Tube, a new video hosting website that, as the name suggests, allows for vaping videos. Many YouTubers have been migrating their vaping channels to this new website, where they can express themselves freely.