New YouTube terms will allow Google to terminate accounts that it determines are not "commercially viable"
Relevant part of YouTube TOS that'll come into effect on 2019-12-10:
YouTube may terminate your access, or your Google account’s access to all or part of the Service if YouTube believes, in its sole discretion, that provision of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.
However, it's not clear whether "Service" is YouTube or whole Google account. As we've seen in Markiplier affair, violating YouTube TOS meant that people lost access to their whole Google account - including gmail and gdrive.
I think the interpretations of this clause flying around the internet over the last few days are starting to get pretty wild. I've seen everything from "YouTube will terminate people that upload a lot of videos and don't get enough views" to this ad-blocking interpretation now.
Companies include a ton of vague statements in their terms so that they have something to point to when they need to ban abusive users. These statements often could mean almost anything—that's exactly why they're written so vaguely—but unless they actually start banning some people for using ad-blockers I think it's a huge stretch to assume that's specifically why they're adding it.
In practice I expect it'll play out like reddit and everyone else - they'll use it as an excuse to shut down whatever is getting them bad press. If there's no bad press or public/legal pressure to force action I'd be surprised if anything happens.
I thought a lot about automated tools such as youtube-dl, but I'm not sure if usage of these automated tools is so wide to force google to add the clause.
Generally I agree with @Amarok that they will just annoy not-revenue-generating users, but I can't help but wonder what prompted them to put it there. They need to have some reason.
I removed the most clickbaity part of the post, you're right that we can't just assume that.
BGB §305c (2) (German civil code on TOS)
Zweifel bei der Auslegung Allgemeiner Geschäftsbedingungen gehen zu Lasten des Verwenders.
Ambiguity in applying TOS are resolved in disfavor of the person issuing the TOS.
I'd really like to hear a german court's opinion on trying to employ these TOS. Oh, it's not just these, I'd love a battle over TOS according to german law against any big US company.
This is how you craft consumer protection laws. Note that "user" refers to the party using TOS here, i.e. YouTube. I'd like to hear an US opinion on the cited sections (305-307) - I can help with reading them if the translation is unclear.
A for-profit company blocking users? I'll believe it when I see it. More likely they'll just hassle users through the interface and try to convince them to buy Red or disable the blocks.
If they do, it'll be very interesting. The First Great Ad War. Especially with more and more browsers integrating anti-tracking, with how nearly synonymous ads are with tracking, if Google blocks adblockers and anti-tracking browsers from their site, that's a very hard and public stance to take.
I mean, there may be more browsers with that kind of technology coming out, but Chrome absolutely dominates the field in terms of marketshare. They have aleady taken steps to stem the effectiveness of adblockers in their desktop browser. And remember that mobile users are now the large majority, so that's people that are either going to use the YouTube app, which will show ads, or use Chrome Mobile, which does not allow addons. They're already on their way there.
I suspect this sort of behavior would just drive more users to switch away from Chrome, reducing their market share. What are they going to do, make Chrome a requirement to access the site? I don't see that working out well for them in the long run.
...are you saying that sarcastically? They made Firefox a second class citizen for a lot of products: Youtube was slowed down, Google Earth could not be accessed (still can't access it from my Firefox install), etc. Sure, they're not explicitly telling Firefox users they can't use YouTube, but they're slowly and surely driving people towards Chrome.
Firefox was a gimped browser until just last year when Quantum came out. Even early versions of Quantum had serious issues with addons converting over to the new web framework. At this point we're past all that and the Mozilla ecosystem is stable again. That means it's much easier to switch off of Chrome now than it has been in the past, and there's a comparably performant browser with vastly more and better features/toys ready and waiting.
Add on to that Mozilla has been much more aggressive in recent months pushing for user's rights and features that users want, rather than websites. It's growing their mindshare. If there's a major public backlash over the current web's invasive business model, Mozilla is poised well to capitalize on that mainly at Google's expense. Let's not forget there's an ad bubble ready to blow and take down the entire advertising model.
Firefox is more of a threat to corporations that track users and show ads now than it has ever been before, and Mozilla is certainly not done developing in this direction. Browsers with massive market share have died many times, I see no reason to think that Chrome is somehow an exception. Users will kick that shit to the curb in seconds once they have a reason to do it. If I were Google I wouldn't be looking to give users reasons to switch. As you point out, they got away with that in the past, but that's becoming a more risky road every day.
Just a nitpick, but Quantum came out in 2017, two years ago.
Has it been that long already? All I remember is it came out of beta right around when Tildes went live. We were all discussing it in slack.
Honestly I thought it was even longer. I could have sworn that Firefox was still faster than Chrome even before then.
Are you implying this will be used against viewers? I'd guess it'll be used against creators that are demonetized too often or upload too much, don't get enough views, etc.
Honestly, the wording is so vague it seems to give them blanket permission to use 'not commercially viable' against anyone. If you aren't making them money, you're expendable. That could mean those who block ads, or those who aren't advertiser-friendly enough to be monetized.
A comment that got a lot of traction r/ublockorigin said that this clause is more about if they wanted to shut down part of or all of YouTube. Say they decide that YouTube music isn't working out for them they could shut it down and then point to this clause when musicians/labels complain about the loss of revenue. Etc
Edit: YouTube has said this now too https://mobile.twitter.com/TeamYouTube/status/1193988444873060352
I'll keep blocking ads as long as they allow me to. If they ban my account I'll just keep a list of often watched channels or maybe I'll write myself a web app to keep check of my subscriptions outside Youtube. Probably already exists to be honest. The only thing really hanging on my google account is my email and my calendar. If they terminate it, I'll find alternatives, maybe self-host something. It might honestly just be the kick that I need to finally de-google my life.
If you need something on Android you can use NewPipe but if you want to use a website there's Invidious.
Thanks for showing me Invidious! I wasn't aware of its existence.
All youtube channels and playlists even have RSS feeds! Depending if you have the channel id or username you can use the following feed urls:
"Service" is YouTube as is defined in the second paragraph of the terms.
Still, other YouTube ToS violations have nuked the entire Google account in the past.
Had the recent Markiplier incident in mind.