YouTube Instantly Deleted Our Entire Channel… What We Learned & How You Can Help

For the past 6 years, the StartupBros YouTube channel has been churning out all sorts of YouTube videos helping new entrepreneurs grind themselves out of their day jobs. It’s not the biggest channel, but we did pretty well — and built up over 2-million views on our ~200 videos…

I know some of you really enjoyed these videos — we had well over 30k subscribers (rapidly rising), and we had just invested well over $10,000 into our studio to deliver even better videos to you…

But today that all abruptly comes to an end. YouTube has permanently & immediately terminated the StartupBros channel — with no warning whatsoever.

What Exactly Happened?

About an hour after our latest YouTube video went live, we received our first ever Community Guidelines Strike…

All right, no big deal. Sounds like we got caught up in some algorithmic moderation, and just need to appeal this strike. Worst case scenario, we’ll re-edit the video and cut whatever YouTube’s algorithm doesn’t like…

But wait — not more than 15-minutes later, there’s another email — 

Uhhh…wait….WTF?!

Apparently there was a ‘complaint’, and a ‘review’ that determined we were inciting users to commit crimes. And not just any crimes — but crimes so heinous, simply removing the offending video wasn’t enough…

For the world to be safe — YouTube had to completely scrub StartupBros from their platform…

But You Must Have Done SOMETHING?!

Before we blamed YouTube for anything — we first blamed ourselves…

We went back and listened to all our most recent videos for anything that could be misconstrued as inciting users to commit crimes. Our best guess was from our latest video (published just a few hours before our suspension)…

You can watch the video YouTube deems so dangerous here —

In this video — I point out that your IRA’s are protected even in bankruptcy. Because of that it makes sense to fund your retirement accounts before making any debt payments…

And although I explicitly tell you NOT to do it (3 times) — I make the point that it would even make sense to go into debt to fund your IRA…

It’s a fairly sophisticated and complex financial point, and I’m pretty sure it’s completely legal… 

But I KNOW that YouTube’s content moderators don’t know if it’s legal or not — so how did someone manually decide to terminate out entire account instantaneously for that?

Seems like a longshot…

So What DID You Get Banned For?

Outside of a junior content moderator at YouTube getting overzealous with their CPA knowledge — we truly don’t know…

Before last night, we were the ‘ideal YouTubers’ — we worked hard to follow the rules, and had never received a single strike (community or copyright).

What’s really interesting, is that YouTube is actually violating their own policy here. Just take a look at some of the language from their “clear and consistent” Community Guideline Strike policy…

I can now tell you personally that this is all bullsh*t. We received no warnings, no strikes, no video removals…

In fact, we received no contact from anyone at all. Just an email letting us know all our hard work has been deleted. Thanks for using YouTube!

Our Appeal to YouTube

YouTube’s termination email included a link to appeal, so went ahead and submitted the best appeal we could. Here’s what we wrote, for anyone in the same sitatuon —

Thanks so much for your help in advance!
We just had our account terminated, and are hoping to get it back. The account was in good standing before tonight -- we've never even had a single strike on the channel.
We received the notice "We don't allow content that encourages illegal activities or incites users to violate YouTube's guidelines"
It also states "The only depictions of such activities that we may allow need to be educational or documentary in nature"
In our latest video we posted on 7/27/2020, we do precisely that...
At 5:39 we talk about how important it is to fully fund your IRA & 401k. To show how important it is -- we make the point that IRAs are protected in bankruptcy (so that makes it REALLY important to fully fund them).
But at 5:40 and from 6:06 - 6:14 we give explicit warnings that say "I am 110% saying you should not do this" and "it's...bankruptcy fraud".
We are not sure how this got picked up as illegal activity, but we'd be happy to remove the video.

After submitting our appeal, we received a strange G Suite notification —

I tried doing as much as I could with this, but it seems like just a random notification to let you know your appeal has been received…

So Now What?

Well — that’s it, silly!

Now we wait to see if our corporate overlords decide to allow us onto their platforms. But we won’t hold our breath — there’s no obligation for them to even grace you with so much as a human reply…

In fact, I’m not sure there have been any humans involved in this process whatsoever. This is just another story of algorithms gone haywire, and probably a vision into the algorithmic tyranny we’re moving into…

We Need Your Help!

It’s insane to me that it’s come to this — but if you want the StartupBros YouTube Channel to live on — we’ve all got to FIGHT for it!

Most of the appeals I’ve read about are DENIED — and the ONLY way to beat the censorship systems is to MAKE SOME NOISE!

So PLEASE, if you’ve ever found value in what we do here at StartupBros — PLEASE MAKE SOME NOISE! 

It’s up to the entire StartupBros community to keep the drive alive! This is the ONLY time I’ll ever ask you — PLEASE TWEET!

Any extra attention you can bring to this (particularly to the @TeamYouTube account, or anyone you know at YouTube), will be DEEPLY appreciated!!!

What You Can Learn From All This

It feels weird talking about myself, so let me give you some takeaways from all this…

  1. Being a YouTuber, blogger, influencer, or content creator doesn’t make you a business owner. It makes you a slave to whichever platform is supplying your traffic.

    Amazon, Google, Facebook — use these platforms to get your message in front of more people. But never forget they can be taken away from you instantly. You don’t own squat — you’re just building their platform for them…

    The only thing these monopolies can’t take from you is the RELATIONSHIPS you’ve built up with your audience. For example, Joe Rogan couldn’t build his podcast anywhere but YouTube — but now that he’s built rapport with his audience, he can lead them off to Spotify…

    Never confuse your current position in someone’s algorithm with your real long-term worth.

  2. Speaking of algorithms — don’t depend on them to build your business ‘organically’. Organic growth used to mean you had a product or a message that was so awesome — it just naturally spread like wildfire. Go for that kind of growth, and everything else will work itself out…

    A company built around the latest algorithmic loophole might make money right now, but it’s going to become a nightmare as those algorithms continue to be developed. And my version of financial freedom certainly isn’t losing sleep over what some recent college grads are doing with some computer code…

    Instead, build an experience that creates a lasting, memorable impact — and use these platforms as a way to help spread your message. Don’t just create random time-wasting clickbait because the algorithms like it — create memorable experiences, and people will naturally want to come back for more…

  3. Once you have an audience, don’t be stupid enough to send them OFF your platform. Try to keep them in your eco-system as much as possible (else they fall back into the hands of our corporate overlords).

    For example — I was stupid enough to send out these videos with direct links to YouTube. And now, everybody clicking that link is seeing a terminated YouTube channel. Bad move…

    If I simply embedded that video on the StartupBros website — I could have just replaced the YouTube embed with a Vimeo embed, and lots more people would have seen the video.

    So be smarter than me — and keep your audience on YOUR platform instead of THEIRS.

  4. Backup everything. The cloud is not a permanently safe place to store your important files. This type of algorithmic policing is only set to get worse — and it’s slowly spreading even into people’s private storage like Google Drive.

    I don’t know why this is happening to entrepreneurs, but it’s happening. I assume we are getting unintentionally caught up in extremely overzealous algorithmic moderation (although YouTube says there’s humans doing the checking).

    But the point stands true. You can’t depend on cloud services to safely store the fruits of your labor. You MUST have HARD BACKUPS of your work. 

In Closing — Please Help 🙁

I’ll keep this post updated as the situation progresses, even if there’s technically no update to give.

If you’d like to see more StartupBros videos in the future, be sure to make some noise and tweet @TeamYouTube — and hopefully we can get an actual human to take a look.

And for those of currently investing your time & money into YouTube — I hope this helps, and hope you can avoid the arbitrary ban-hammer longer than I…

God Speed into this Brave New World, Bros…