YouTube Punishes Russel Brand, Pays Cardi B
When reviewing some of YouTube’s past decisions regarding singer R. Kelly and rapper Cardi B, it’s clear that YouTube’s life-altering authoritarian justice is, at the very least, unsettlingly inconsistent.
YouTube demonetized Russell Brand’s channel on the basis that he was anonymously accused of rape. Despite the serious allegations, which accusers say took place over a decade ago, Brand has not been charged, much less convicted, of any crime.
Regardless, of whether the accusations against Brand are proven true or false, this incident is a reminder of the incredible power YouTube has to deny anyone a right to earn a living if they feel like it. In this case, the decision was based on anonymous accusations rather than any due process of law.
This hasn’t always been the case. For example, in 2021, it appears YouTube didn’t take any action on R. Kelly’s accounts over his off-platform behavior until a week after he was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking charges.
Rapper Cardi B, like Brand, hasn’t been formally charged with such crimes. Although, unlike Brand, who denies such criminal behavior, Cardi B publicly confessed. However, that did not stop YouTube from paying her significant sums (in addition to ad revenue) to promote YouTube itself.
In a 2016 livestream, Cardi B proudly admitted to the crimes of violating men's bodies—drugging them—and robbing them, after making them think they were going to have sex. “I’d drug niggas up and I’d rob them. That’s what I used to do,” the rapper yelled to her audience.
Oddly, she went on to argue that she deserved her rap success not in spite of her admitted criminal behavior but because of it. “So for a bitch to mother fucking say that I don’t deserve shit, that’s when I know they are fucking bugging,” she said, equating drugging people and robbing them to “putting in work”.
Later in 2018, YouTube was “willing to spend heavily” on Cardi B to promote its music streaming service. YouTube Music’s product director said it was part of, “the biggest marketing spend YouTube has done to date.”
The following year, in 2019, the Cardi B livestream was revisited, and there was an effort to “cancel” the rapper on social media. According to Buzzfeed, “The hashtag #SurvivingCardiB was also created, alluding to the #SurvivingRKelly hashtag people used when the documentary of the same name aired on Lifetime detailing alleged sexual abuse by the R&B singer.”
Cardi B’s YouTube channel is still up and monetized with 19 million subscribers.
YouTube said they demonetized Brand’s channel because of perceived “harm” to its users. In a video outlining its Creator Responsibility Policy, a YouTube spokesman explained why YouTube punishes video creators for off-platform behavior.
“If the things you do or say…are really reckless, dangerous, inappropriate—on video or not— you could actually cause damage to YouTube…by hurting their reputation and revenue. Why? Because YouTube and advertisers don’t want to be associated with that level of craziness.”
So apparently, it is now considered crazy to deny accusations of violating women. (As the #MeToo movement said, you must #BelieveAllWomen.) Meanwhile, proudly admitting to violating men, like Cardi B, appears to be the kind of culturally acceptable craziness that YouTube and advertisers actually want to be associated with.
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