Does YouTube treat the little channels unfairly

"Fairtube"Youtubers want a say on an equal footing

"Hello and welcome to the Slingshot Channel. Today it's about shooting in the garden, with toys like this one. Yes, I've already introduced them, these are the most dangerous toy weapons in Germany."

Jörg Sprave is one of those Youtubers who reach a global audience with a rather unusual hobby. The 54-year-old's channel has 2.2 million subscribers, on which he shows how to use the bizarre, home-made slingshots and other equipment possible to shoot things of all kinds: potatoes, toilet brushes or even condoms.

This is harmless, but some videos have been blocked from the platform from time to time due to their martial appearance. Nevertheless, there are more than 750 Sprave videos on YouTube, in German and English, the latter being particularly popular. Calls in the double-digit million range are not uncommon.

Video makers feel ill-informed

But despite his success, Jörg Sprave is angry on Youtube and accuses the Google subsidiary of lack of transparency and a lack of fairness. After all, for him, too, it's about reach and money. Youtube does not account for it, says Sprave, why a video is blocked or why no advertising is shown in a video.

"Nobody tells you that. You have to try to guess that. I find it strange and not in partnership, because we mustn't forget that these are people who have already managed to build a large channel and attract a lot of people and have signed a legally valid partnership agreement with Youtube. We don't understand why these people are left out in the rain and given no information. "

IG Metall has been dealing with online platforms for years

"We" is the Youtubers Union, which Sprave founded in March last year, an interest group for Youtubers with now over 21,000 members, and this is IG Metall, with which the Youtubers Union has now launched the Fairtube campaign. A connection that is unusual at first glance: The union has been dealing with the issue of platforms and the fair payment and treatment of its employees for a number of years, says Robert Fuß, who works on the IG Metall board of directors in the crowdsourcing project:

"The Youtubers have similar problems as the crowdworkers, who we have been looking after for some time and where we take care of the topic: the topic of transparency, reliability, the power imbalance between those who work there and the platforms. And the Youtubers Union has seen: Oh, IG Metall, which has been dealing with this topic for seven years. It has competence in the organization. And then we said: Then we will let us work together. You may get more moved than everyone else. "

"Youtube measures very massively with double standards"

Jörg Sprave has observed, for example, that the classic TV networks are much more likely to get their videos into the recommendations and so-called "trending" that are displayed to the individual YouTube users.

"Now you have to know that Trending and Recommended are very, very, very important instruments, because there is now so much content on Youtube that if you don't manage to get on these recommendation lists, then a video doesn't really stand a chance to be seen by a lot of people. And Youtube measures this very massively with two different standards. The fact is that a CNN or an AP video has much, much easier to get into a trending 10,000 views so that they make it into the recommendation lists, while an independent Youtuber needs at least 1.5 million views.

Initiative calls for a contact person and an arbitration board

Fairtube, therefore, demands more transparency, concrete contact persons instead of automated e-mail traffic, a neutral arbitration board and an advisory board on which Youtubers, also called "creators" by the platform, sit. And legal steps are checked, for example to clarify whether the lack of transparency of the YouTube algorithm violates the General Data Protection Regulation or whether one or the other Youtuber is possibly self-employed.

Therefore, YouTube was given a deadline of August 23 to respond to the catalog of demands. At the request of Deutschlandfunk, the platform had a written statement sent out, which states, among other things:

"YouTube creators are an important part of the YouTube ecosystem. Therefore, YouTube pays the majority of its revenue to its creators and partners. For this ecosystem to flourish, YouTube needs to strike a balance between the safety of its users, the fitness of." Ensure content for advertisers and long-term sustainability for YouTube Creator. "

An admission that most Youtubers would probably sign - if they could understand how this balance is achieved.