What’s the news: Google has informed certain YouTube creators that it will be removing the verified status of their accounts on YouTube. They’re also introducing a new look that helps distinguish the official channel of the creator, celebrity or brand it represents.

Why is Google doing this? Google has been making changes to YouTube for a while now, including monetization of hateful content, prevention of live streaming on channels that don’t have sufficient subscribers, and now the removal of verified status of certain channels. They’re basing the changes on research (they claim), which shows that viewers often associated the checkmark with an endorsement of content, not identity.

What’s the new criteria? Google says that the criteria for having a verified status of new channels is that they have a large audience and community on YouTube, are widely recognised outside of YouTube and have a strong presence online, or have a channel name that could be confused with other channels on YouTube.

How has Google decided whom to remove? We don’t know. The criteria is clear, but the implementation is likely to be clunkly, as it usually is when Google changes something. There are legitimate sites whose search traffic and monetisation get impacted when Google changes its search algorithm. Got the scale of the platform, there really isn’t any transparency and accountability from google. The issue is also that Google really isn’t geared up to deal with scale and decision making, especially at the scale at which it operates.

What’s the collateral damage? Channels like ours. The verified status of MediaNama’s channel is about to be removed, and the email below is one that we’ve received from Google. This is not new for us: earlier last month, our ability to live stream MediaNama discussions was curtailed by YouTube because our channel didn’t have the minimum required 1000 subscribers (p.s.: Help us out by subscribing here).

Even though we don’t have enough subscribers on YouTube (we’ve only just started doing more video), and we don’t have a channel name that can get confused with someone else’s, we do still have a substantive recognition outside of YouTube.

How will it impact creators? Google says it won’t impact monetisation, but we don’t know if it will have an impact on discovery of content, which is critical to views on YouTube for most creators.

Will the appeals process work? Google has an appeals process, and most creators are likely to appeal for re-verification, but frankly, talking to Google is like talking to a wall. They mention a broad enough templated criteria for disallowing your appeal even if that criteria doesn’t fit you, and their decision is final. We’ve experienced this with Google ads monetisation. Given the impact that Google has on business, and the arbitrariness and opacity of their decisions, there really does need to be regulatory action to ensure fairness and transparency from Google.

Google’s email to creators:
Hi there,

We’re writing to let you know that we’re updating the eligibility criteria for channel verification on YouTube. Unfortunately, with these changes, your channel no longer meets the criteria to be verified. We realize this might be disappointing, but we believe these updates will make channel verification more consistent for users and creators across YouTube. Please keep reading to learn more about the changes and what you can do.
What’s changing
YouTube will now proactively verify channels instead of accepting requests for verification badges. We aim to verify channels that represent a well-known or highly searched creator, artist, public figure, or company with a clear need to differentiate themselves from other channels with a similar name.
Channels are typically verified if they:
• Have built a large audience and community on YouTube.
• Are widely recognized outside of YouTube and have a strong presence online.
• Or, have a channel name that could be confused with other channels on YouTube.
The goal is to help channels avoid impersonation, and help viewers understand if a channel is the official presence of the creator, celebrity, or brand it represents. The verification badge does not represent endorsements or awards from YouTube.
What this means for you
Starting in early October 2019, your channel will no longer be verified, but you have the option to appeal the decision here. This will not impact monetization of your channel.
For more information on these changes, please refer to the YouTube Help Center.
Sincerely,
The YouTube Team

Watch the video we did on Google removing verification for channels arbitrarily: