Everything You Need To Know From Casey Neistat's Interview With YouTube Chief of Business

Yesterday, YouTuber Casey Neistat was given unprecedented access to have an on-the-record interview with one of YouTube’s executives, Robert Kyncl, on the future of the platform's creator community. Kyncl is the video-sharing services' chief business officer (CBO) making him second in command behind Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO.

Much of the interview fell into the sphere of YouTube’s policies and how the company is still developing them, as well as the initial steps it took to demonetize harmful content.

While some outlets have criticized Neistat for not pushing Kyncl hard enough on certain shortcomings, it was still an enlightening interview. Neistat probed Kyncl on many aspects of YouTube's controversial 2017: from its delayed response to Logan Paul's 'suicide forest' video to its highly criticized "adpocalypse" and more. Kyncl continually emphasized that they’re hard at work refining their policies and standards, but YouTube is not a new platform. The site has been around since 2005 and owned by Google since 2006, leaving many wondering — how is it that 12 years later, their team still hasn't adequately refined their policies regarding harmful content?

“All of [creators'] problems are my problems, and all of [creators'] wins are my wins, so we are tied at the hips…”

Obviously YouTube has a much tougher job today than they did 12 years ago; the platform processes approximately 450 hours of video every minute and streams approximately one billion hours of content every day. The bottom line is YouTube grew much faster than they were able to scale. Between their ideal of running an open platform for free speech and also maintaining a platform that's safe enough for ad partners to not worry about their brand being associated with harmful content, YouTube has yet to find a healthy balance. 

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At one point, Kyncl said that both sides he represents, the creators and the advertisers, think that he favors the other side. YouTube took action after major ad partners like Coca-Cola and Amazon pulled ads from the platform because they found their ads were paired with hate speech and violent extremist content. Part of their solution to “adpocalypse” was an algorithm that wrongly and automatically demonetized videos. Kyncl went on to say that while this may have been painful for creators, every time a creator petitioned their demonetized video, it actually helped the algorithm to learn the signs of appropriate content.

Neistat and Kyncl also discussed another step taken by YouTube. As of January, in order to join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP) and monetize on content, one has to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch time hours in the last 12 months. Neistat noted that a lot of smaller creators and channels are protesting these new guidelines as they're incredibly discouraging and difficult to achieve. Kyncl responded by saying that "YouTube wins when the creators win." YouTube sees these standards as a reasonable benchmark in order for the company to make an informed decision about accepting a partner to the program before paying them. Moving forward, Kyncl stated that YouTube believes this step will result in less videos being automatically demonetized while also keeping advertisers happy.

Neistat closed by prompting Kyncl to lay out what YouTube represents and the plans for the future. Kyncl laid out 4 core "Freedoms":

  1. Freedom of opportunity

  2. Freedom of speech

  3. Freedom of information

  4. Freedom to belong

He emphasized the importance of the creator community, but also the trouble of balancing these freedoms with the principles of the companies that keep YouTube afloat — the advertisers.