back to article YouTube mystery ban on hacking videos has content creators puzzled

YouTube – under fire since inception for building a business on other people's copyrighted content and in recent years for its vacillating policies on irredeemable material – recently decided it no longer wants to host instructional hacking videos. The written policy first appears in the Internet Wayback Machine's archive of …

  1. nematoad


    It does seem as if Youtube has got itself in a bit of a muddle as far as banning channels. Now of course they have the right to choose who is shown on their site but the ban-hammer seems to be a bit arbitrary

    A fine example is the trouble one of the channels I follow got into. I went to the channel to look at the latest post. Instead I got a banner saying that the channel had been terminated for breaking the terms of service.

    And what was this naughty channel I hear you ask.

    It's one by a antique furniture restorer. Not the sort of thing that I think that anyone would find objectionable. Fortunately the channel was re-instated but it must have worried the person running the channel as he would have lost over five years of posts.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Strange

      "It's one by a antique furniture restorer. Not the sort of thing that I think that anyone would find objectionable."

      Vegans complaining about glue made from boiled down animal parts?

      1. eldakka

        Re: Strange

        It was probably all the nailing, pounding, tapping and screwing that caused the issue.

        Not to mention ageism issues - well preserved, ancient - and possible racism issues around 'blackface' - staining.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Strange

        Quite right. There must be a humane way to boil a horse.

        Someone should hire Mongo to punch the horses first. A knocked out horse can't feel pain right?

    2. Allan George Dyer

      Re: Strange

      "It's one by a antique furniture restorer."

      Was there a video on stripping and varnishing?

      1. ds6 Silver badge

        Re: Strange

        Ohh yeah baby, brown that grain... Ohhhhhh............ shit.

        1. eldakka

          Re: Strange

          Ohhhhhh............ shit.

          I'm pretty sure they'd block scat too ;)

      2. Martin-73 Silver badge

        Re: Strange

        I'm guessing you aren't joking. Youtube's automatic 'matching' is THAT stupid. If he had stripping and or stripper in the metadata for too many videos, that'd absolutely do it :\

        1. Tigra 07
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Strange

          Perhaps a cat meowed in the video and Content ID claimed the entire video, and took down the channel.

          It's happened before for birds tweeting in the background...

          Paris likes tweeting...

          1. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: Strange

            Indeed, just today, a 'tuber I follow (a blacksmith) has had a video 'copyright struck' because his hammering matched the beat of an obscure song?!

            I expect the strike to be removed, but the stress this causes to people who use youtube to share their passion/interest (and not mere 'influencers' of whom I could care not a jot), is enough to make a lot of them say 'screw it'.

            There should be a redress available where if youtube or some third party's algorithm's falsely accuse you, you can get restitution, even if it's only a few pesos. It'd be enough to make these clowns think twice before claiming copyright violation without a human even watching the d*mn video...

            [puts soapbox back]

            1. Tigra 07

              Re: Strange

              I've actually heard worse. Apparently anyone can mass claim videos, without checks as to whether or not they actually own any of the infringed copyrights. It happened to a channel i look at by a serial video claimer. There was no music or copyrighted material in the videos, and yet these videos were now demonetised and the channel had to fight for them to be bought back under their own control...ONE AT A TIME.

            2. Stoneshop

              [puts soapbox back]

              Is it appropriately stripped, stained and varnished?

            3. STOP_FORTH

              Re: Strange

              Mahler's Sixth? Hammer Time? If I had a hammer? Maxwell's Silver Hammer?

              Do tell!

              1. STOP_FORTH

                Re: Strange

                Rats, I meant the Anvil Chorus. Apologies.

                1. vulture65537

                  Re: Strange

                  out of copyright by now

                  1. STOP_FORTH

                    Re: Strange

                    The original sheet music will be out of copyright but a particular recording may not be. I'm still curious as to which piece of music the hammer blows were infringing.

    3. eldakka

      Re: Strange

      Fortunately the channel was re-instated but it must have worried the person running the channel as he would have lost over five years of posts.

      If the channel mattered to the owner, they should have a copy (backup) of everything posted to the channel. Therefore if the channel was banned they should only be losing a few days or weeks of the most recent posts.

      Now, of course it wold be unfortunate to have one's channel banned, and thus losing revenue and future exposure, but the only one to blame for losing 'years' of posts is the channel owner for not backing up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Strange

        Presumably those down-voting are not smart enough to think of keeping a backup.

  2. Mark 85

    Furniture restoration breaks the terms of service? Just when you think you've heard everything someone goes does something to lower the bar a bit more.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      the new "lack of" standard in on-line content:

      a) if *We Feel*, it gets a ban [even if it's just one activist moderator]

      b) it's OUR server, so shut up

      c) you post your content at the whim of our service. We're big enough to just say it to your face.

      d) we can change the agreement, any time, for any length of time, whenever we *FEEL*

      e) we make the rules, we enforce the rules, we *ARE* the rules


      "for the children" of course

  3. Chris G

    Cui bono

    One or two channels that I follow have had videos demonetized for various reasons regarding content that You tube says prevents them from selling ad time but that hasn't stopped them placing ads at the beginning of these same videos when I click on them to watch. If You tube are not paying anything to the content provider but are still placing ads they are using spurious arguments to deny payment to the youtuber while pocketing the money.

    1. Mystic Megabyte

      Re: Cui bono @Chris

      I never see adverts on YouTube and the videos play just fine without any interruptions.

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Cui bono @Chris

        I've asked this before, and apparently some people don't use an ad blocker when browsing Youtube. Weirdos.

        I can only assume that there's people at Youtube who are ok with ad blockers, because I'm sure it can't be that hard for Youtube to bypass the ad blocking (eg, make the advert part of the same video stream as the content, or simply refuse to stream the content until X seconds have passed, so you can either watch X seconds of advert, or a blank screen).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cui bono @Chris

          "I can only assume that there's people at Youtube who are ok with ad blockers, because I'm sure it can't be that hard for Youtube to bypass the ad blocking (eg, make the advert part of the same video stream as the content,.........."

          Having worked for a large internet media company, they (media companies in general) rarely host the ads, but rather pass a URL to your browser to make a call to a particular ad hosted at an ad company or the company who made the ad itself, based on an algo. In doing that, they don't use their bandwidth, storage or compute power, they're not responsible if the ad turns out to be malicious and it would be a LOT of work to deal with the transfer and management of countless media (ad) files.

          Most people don't use ad/script/canvas/referer blockers, cookie destroyers, user-agent changers, etc ... having to occasionally tweak on them gets in the way of the instant gratification people want. With that, YT loses very little $$ for those that do. Beyond using all of the tools listed above, YouTube Red takes care of the ads for me.

          If you really want to see how it works, download a MITM app like Fiddler (Win) / Charles (Mac) / Burp Suite (Win/Mac/Lin) (all free) and learn what goes on when switching videos, or really any interaction you have with the site.

    2. Tigra 07

      Re: Cui bono

      You can have videos demonetised from anything controversial. Even showing clips of violent video games (Call of Duty, etc) on a video game channel can result in demonetisation.

      News segments are often demonetised for being gorey, "problematic" or traumatic too. This happened with coverage of September 11th videos and compilations of news coverage.

      Youtube is for the advertisers first, not the creators that keep the site running.

      1. fandom

        Re: Cui bono

        Actually, it's the advertisers that keep the site running.

        An unpopular thing to say, I know, but still the truth.

    3. ds6 Silver badge

      Re: Cui bono

      FYI, videos can be demonitized for the uploader—but if any claimed content is in the video, the claimant can still allow their own selection of ads to play. It's a funny situation and I'm not sure how the advertisers play that fine line in the background, likely enforced via contract.

  4. Dwarf

    This is the wrong way around

    The more that people understand complex subjects the better for all of us on the progression of life's journey and how we evolve in future generations.

    An understanding of IT security and how to detect where weaknesses are allows us to build stronger computer systems that are resistant to misuse. This is why many companies have bug bounties.

    So, how do young people gain knowledge of the complex fields without experience and guidance ? You don't meet many of them down the pub (if you can still find a pub) and its not like more common skills like welding, bricklaying or plumbing where you might have a mate who knows a bit about that if you really want to learn it.

    Raspberry Pi's are instrumental in breaking down barriers on understanding things like OS's, programming and GPIO based control rather than someone saying "its a phone" or "its a TV" but having no clue about how the device worked.

    In many ways IT security is the same problem with the same solution. Poorly deployed systems need to be called out so that the vulnerabilities can be resolved and better systems produced. It is the vendors problem when they do things badly, not the hacker who finds their weakness out. Better that than someone who gains access for nefarious purposes and nobody has a clue in how that happened and quietly brushes it under the carpet and offers a coffee with doughnuts to make people forget about whats happening.

    Knowledge should be freely available so that we can evolve to the next set of technologies and we all know we only learn by our mistakes, this means that we need to understand what those mistakes are first. You can't do that if the information is not freely available.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: This is the wrong way around

      All good points, but YouTube isn't a public or educational service, it's an ad broker.

      If videos mentioning "hacking" scare the advertisers/agents off, they go. It doesn't matter that it may be incorrect, it's what the ignorant advertisers/agents[1] think the ignorant public[2] will perceive.

      1 - I'm not calling them generally ignorant, I'm using its orthodox meaning of not knowing something in a particular subject that isn't their speciality. In the context of, say, a security video, an ad-person who doesn't know the subject only needs to hears the word "hacking" to be alarmed. Same for other video subjects the advertiser/agent isn't familiar with.

      2 - I am calling them generally ignorant - in the eyes of the advertisers/agents - they generally assume their target is the lowest common denominator.

  5. HmYiss

    Never go full Hitler.

    Oop. Too late.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Just Security

    Any how to fix your device video, whether it's for your phone, your vehicle, or your toilet, is a threat to some corporations bottom line. YouTube just wants to be able to respond appropriately if one of their big advertisers complains.

    Vague terms leave room for expanded applications.

    1. tim 13

      Re: Not Just Security

      [how to fix] your toilet, is a threat to some corporations bottom line.

      I see what you did there!

  7. Starace

    Funny isn't it?

    They'll allow endless videos of 'influencers' acting or driving like total cunts but innocuous stuff gets you in trouble.

    I guess you just have to look at the ad revenue (or occasionally the politics) to understand.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Funny isn't it?

      Those influencers will never break into a Google system, one day....

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Funny isn't it?

      If only it were just an influencer problem. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villany.

      1. John Savard

        Re: Funny isn't it?

        Given the enormous number of videos on YouTube, of course they have to use stupid automated moderating systems.

        Fortunately, The Register is not in a similar position, so we won't have to worry about your post bieng taken down because Lucasfilm thinks you've pirated one of their movies in your comment. Oh, right, that would be Disney now.

    3. The First Dave

      Re: Funny isn't it?

      Was I the only one who saw the quote about a video showing how to set off "fireworks" remotely and thought "that might be useful to a terrorist" ? Not to mention what antics teenage boys might do with it.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Funny isn't it?

        Don't think teenage boys need YouTube to know how to get up to antics with fireworks. It's genetic.

        As for terrorism, perhaps YouTube could do something about livestreaming masacres and beheadings before clamping down on Catherine wheels and 'hackers'.

      2. DCFusor

        Re: Funny isn't it?

        I recently put one up myself, as part of a set of tests on some pyrotechic stuff myself and a few (very responsible) friends make.

        I made it private, I don't share the link, and thanks YT for providing a free bit-barn for this stuff. The email BW would kill us if it even allowed files that big.

        And the design probably wouldn't even help an evildoer - but you know how dumb they are, and how frightened of anyhing that may cause not only problems with ads, but problems with REGULATION.

        Which is being threaten right now.

        Of course, one side of the aisle is calling for more censorship of the other, as they think it helps them.

        I'm reminded of a line from Star Wars that goes something like "The tighter your grasp...".

  8. jelabarre59


    So what would it take to set up a distributed, bittorrent-like video hosting "site"? You know, something where there isn't a central administrator, just videos uploaded and freely available without threat of blocking or censorship? I know, content creators wouldn't be able to make money on it, but if that's not your intent anyway, why not make them available where no one can kill them?

    1. ds6 Silver badge
      1. leexgx

        Re: YouTorrent?

        Http:// is another one (actually get paid on that one) does take about a week or 2 to get a account or you can pay to get a steemit account

    2. Long John Brass

      Re: YouTorrent?

      BitChute already does this as does a few others

    3. Suricou Raven

      Re: YouTorrent?

      Easy enough. Several already exist. Simply hosting video is only part of the problem though. Youtube's real power is in getting people to watch them - subscriptions and recommendations, that useful list down the side, a good search system, and ranking to separate the very few good videos from the mountains of rubbish. If you put a really good video on youtube, you will get thousands of views - it might even go viral, with a good thumbnail and a whole lot of luck. You put the same video anywhere else and you'll be lucky to make it into triple digits.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: YouTorrent?

        "that useful list down the side"

        Useful as in one in ten relevant if you're lucky?

        1. Alistair

          Re: YouTorrent?


          In my case more like one in 200.....

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: YouTorrent?


  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me get this straight...

    YouTube (owned by Google/Alphabet) does not allow videos that shows users how to "steal user credentials and personal data"

    So, if I create a video that shows how to create an Android app that uses permissions to grab the users access tokens and personal data for targetted DoubleClick ads will it get banned?

    (Asking for a friend)

    1. W.S.Gosset

      Re: Let me get this straight...

      Of course. Outright theft of their IP. Clear-cut legal case; I don't see why people are protesting.

  10. T. F. M. Reader

    " ... hacking is not a derogatory term ... "

    I belong to a generation that insists that "hacking" has nothing to do with computer security.

    1. Chris G

      Re: " ... hacking is not a derogatory term ... "

      Of course it isn't. When one is out enjoying the countryside with other companions on horseback, stopping off at some point at a good alehouse to quaff an ale or before returning to the workaday world. I have been hacking since the early sixties without once damaging any software.

      Mine's the hacking jacket.

    2. Stretchoman

      Re: " ... hacking is not a derogatory term ... "

      "4. A person who is good at programming quickly."

      Here we go, get out your sunglasses and trench coat.

      1. ds6 Silver badge

        Re: " ... hacking is not a derogatory term ... "



  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An odd response

    "After this story was filed, a YouTube spokesperson replied with some talking points on background. Per the company’s request, we won’t repeat them. If we receive attributable comments, we’ll pass them along."

    What on earth was worth saying to The Register that couldn't be passed on to us?

    Apart from a threat or an attempted bribe, that is.

    1. MonkeyCee

      Re: An odd response

      "What on earth was worth saying to The Register that couldn't be passed on to us?"

      It has been, it's included in the article.

      My experience of privately communicating with journalists is that you (and they, assuming also acting professionally) are clear on what things you can be quoted on, that will be publicly attributed to you, and things which you aren't prepared to be quoted on, but feel are important to understanding the story.

      This is important, because while the hack you talk to will write up what you said, an editor who's never spoken to you will decide what parts of your story they want to use.

      It may seem odd, but it's part of the dance you have to do. In private I can express quite frank opinions about what is going on. I would be very hesitant to make some of those suggestions in public, or with a legal disclaimer first :)

  12. tempemeaty

    Direct their followers elsewhere?

    It's hilarious that, no matter how much punishment youtubers are force to endure, no matter what youtube does to them, they just keep holding on to youtube. LOL

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Direct their followers elsewhere?

      Yeah, well they'd also like people to find their videos. Guess which video website the most popular search engine favours?

      People who produce videos worth watching use something like Patreon to get round the random demonetisation problem.

    2. Tomato42

      Re: Direct their followers elsewhere?

      well, if there was at least one video-sharing website a fifth the size of YouTube, then they likely wouldn't stay

      but there basically are no alternatives (and no, vimeo isn't it, you pay to have your videos hosted)

  13. ratfox

    How things have changed

    It used to be there were dozens of videos telling you how to steal the World of Warcraft account of somebody else... It was simple, you just had to identify yourself by sending your own username and password to

  14. Peter Prof Fox

    Lockpicking is fine then

    Bosnia Bill and The Lockpicking Lawyer routinely demonstrate how crap merchandise is. For how much longer?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lockpicking is fine then

      or Big Clive if crap hardware merchants start buying lots of ad space...

    2. DCFusor

      Re: Lockpicking is fine then

      And how good they both's kind of funny that you can tell how hard it is to get past a lock fairly reliably by looking at the runtime of an LPL video...."and that's all I have for you today" can come awful quickly on some locks.

    3. Tomato42

      Re: Lockpicking is fine then

      ...and a click out of one, and a click out of two...

  15. Blackjack Silver badge

    So, how long is Youtube going to get away with this?

    Just how much abuse can Youtube uploaders take before they move into somewhere else?

    Youtube has both full series to see for free, save for a few ads, and a paid version of Youtube that costs way more than Netflix.

    Youtube both removes stuff for copyright infractions and leaves old videos that have broken copyright for over ten years.

    And is terrible at removing copyrighted material.

    The song you want to listen was removed from YouTube? Just use the search option in Youtube and you are likely to find a dozen uploads of the same song you can still listen with no problems.

    And they keep cutting the money uploaders can make with Ads, at this rate of cutting profits, a lot of "Youtubers" are going to leave Youtube to do something else in the next few years, because they won't be earning enough.

    But for now at least, Youtube enjoys the monopoly, so they are doing whatever they want.

    Will they still be a monopoly in ten years? Who knows?

    MySpace was replaced by Facebook.

    Newsgrounds and other Flash video sites were replaced by Youtube... that until not so long ago still used Flash for videos.

    Altavista and Yahoo were replaced by Google.

    What will end replacing Youtube?

    1. Carpet Deal 'em

      Re: So, how long is Youtube going to get away with this?

      To my knowledge, nobody actually depends on ad revenue at this point. Everybody has Patreons or oter off-site ways to support their channels. Most will stay on YouTube as long as they're allowed simply for that exposure, since that's all they're getting as it is.

      1. STOP_FORTH

        Vanity publishing

        Isn't most content (in any format) on the Internet just vanity publishing for the vapid witterings of dumb people with no original ideas or insights?

        Umm, including this posting of course!

  16. DropBear


    Aren't "spokespersons" who may not be quoted called "lawyers"...?!?

  17. Jastoner

    I have heard that it is more and more difficult to make business with youtube

  18. Aynon Yuser

    Isn't that the new troll trend? If you don't like someone or want to take out the competition, hire Russian troll farm bots to automatically send a large torrents of complaints which would trigger automatic bans done by AI?

    I believe that AI scripts run by media corporations are given free reign to do what they please mass banning innocent users for something like bird song and wind noise. Trying to unban yourself requires the attention of the corporation that initiated the AI ban, and if they don't look into it, which they never do, they user has no recourse.

    Of course the process to correct an innocent ban is worthless, unless you know someone directly at YouTube, or if you're rich/famous.

    I think this is done on Facebook. I know that mass complaints about a person gets them automatically banned by AI.

    The system is broken.

    1. Claverhouse Silver badge

      Maybe There Should Be A YouTube On This...

      Since 'Troll' pace the anti-Trump Mob has now devolved into Somebody of Whose Views I Disagree With, how exactly does one hire a troll farm ?

      Russian of course, with the New Democratic McCarthyism triumphant all the best trolls are Russian, just as back in the Cold War the Chekists of the KGB were regarded as icily brilliant undefeatable chess-players.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tracer T

    Best hacking video ever was the one teaching hackers how to use "Tracer T"


    Well again failure

    Tavis and Parisa need to talk to your compliance peeps. Just because Blackhills proved you guys had big holes in your GDocs platform you do this? You had a disclosure program people would like you more.

    Youtube still can’t fix the hatefulness that suddenly pops up onmy kids feeds . I guess distract people from problems hackers are bad people. Vimeo anyone?

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