YouTube’s ToS changes: User input is something the social media industry is lacking | The Friday Article

Trends on today’s social media platforms are determined by the websites themselves. Users are forced to accept these changes or go elsewhere for the service. The result has led to Instagram changing the algorithm on its timeline, and introducing Instagram Stories and a zoom function. Gone are the days when the demands of the users were met. It needs to change. Websites and their users must come together to discuss changes which both parties want, for it is an interdependent relationship between the user and the platform as a whole.

YouTube's new policies on 'advertiser-friendly' content is the latest change to be made without consulting users or creators on the platform. Photo: Effie Yang on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.
YouTube’s new policies on ‘advertiser-friendly’ content is the latest change to be made without consulting users or creators on the platform. Photo: Effie Yang on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Twitter is the website which has come the closest to gathering audience feedback, be it in the form of Twitter survey advertisements, for example. Yet, these surveys are about companies which work with Twitter. Why can’t they introduce surveys to assess users’ reactions to new changes?

As for Facebook, they have always remained transparent on any new change to their platform – particularly in terms of privacy, of course. However, we all remember when they tried to introduce profile timelines for the first time, right? A fair amount of people didn’t want to make the change, yet it happened to everyone eventually. Again, users of a platform must go along with social media updates. The companies set the trends, and what’s funny is that we often use the social media platform itself to complain about it. Of course, these websites will see the discontent in a trending hashtag (#YouTubeisOverParty doesn’t sound particularly positive, after all), but they never really address it. Sadly, the changes still go ahead, as all we have are our online soapboxes, and they can do whatever they want with their own website – as many online creators have mentioned when it comes to the latest drama with YouTube’s new Terms of Service.

With any change on YouTube, content creators on the site are forced to make videos as a way in which to kick up as much of a fuss as possible. Small YouTube channels often lose out the most, as – unlike big YouTubers – they don’t have a network or a contact at YouTube to whom escalate their concerns.

The idea of a YouTube channel dedicated to being the middle man between the site and video makers is a solution I’ve often thought about. Whilst YouTubers big or small making videos on the subject is great for showing the collective frustration at the news, a channel dedicated to conveying the general consensus to YouTube would be more meaningful to those at the company. It’d be a way for communication to improve between the users and the platform.

Then, that should hopefully bring this trend to a close, and encourage other sites like Instagram and Twitter to find a way in which users of their website can give clear feedback on upcoming and proposed changes.

Social media apps and websites are trying to be the leading platform in their sector, and are doing this by copying features from rivals (Facebook borrows from Twitter and vice versa, and Instagram Stories has a lot of similarities to Snapchat, of course). However, they are prioritising the business goal of being at the top of the industry over listening to the users. If apps and platforms made the changes people wanted after communicating with them directly, then the industry would be more competitive and offer unique and exciting apps – they wouldn’t have to rely on the unnecessary copying which is happening at the moment.

It’s time for a ‘middle man’ on these platforms. We can no longer rely on automated support or feedback emails to vent our frustration at new changes. Now is the time for a proper conversation between users and the platform itself.

Liam

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