Was Your YouTube Channel Suspended for No Reason? (A Guide to Community Guidelines-related Suspensions)

Two of the most common questions on YouTube’s help forum are

  • Why did my channel gets suspended for Community Guidelines or Terms of Use violations?
  • How do I get it back?

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of some of the more common situations that lead to YouTube channel suspensions and terminations, especially those that come as a surprise. Suspensions are not done for ‘no reason’, basically there are three reasons

  • There really was something wrong.
  • There was a misunderstanding and the suspension was incorrect (e.g., YouTube reviewers mistook a list of supplies in the video description for a list of tags).
  • The videos (or other channel content) are in a grey area where a judgement call needed to be made (e.g., Is a thumbnail sexy or obscene? Is this really harassment?) and that decision, rightly or wrongly, went against you.

1. Suspension Basics

1.1 Duration
Unless YouTube notifies you that the channel will come go back online within a specific period (e..g, after three months), the suspension is permanent (so it is a ‘termination’ really).

1.2 Effects on other Channels
Not only is that channel terminated, but all other channels associated with a particular user are also permanently suspended. This is one common reason for a channel suspension—once you have one channel suspended any other channel or account you open after that will be terminated once YouTube establishes that both channels or accounts are owned by the same user. These other accounts may be terminated immediately, after a short time, after long time or (if they are never linked together by YouTube) never. The main point would be that if you have more than one channel, when one channel gets terminated, all the other channels turn into unexploded bombs.  At any moment they could go off.

1.3 Types of Suspension
There are two different kinds of account suspension:

  • Community Guidelines Strikes, Terms of Service Violations and Other Issues (e.g., trademarks, privacy)
  • Repeated Copyright Violations

The rules for these are very different and you need to take different actions in order to recover your channel (for suspensions related to copyright infringement, you would need to get the number of copyright strikes down to less than three, either by contesting the claim and strike via a DMCA counter-notification or by having the claimant retract the claim). This article focus on the first kind of suspension; I will discuss copyright-related violations in another article.

1.4 Private vs Public Videos
It doesn’t matter whether your videos were public, unlisted or private. The same guidelines and restrictions apply.

1.5 Community Guidelines & Terms of Service: Strike System
Unlike copyright-related suspensions, which strictly follow a three strike system, suspensions related to Community Guidelines and Terms of Service violations can occur after three strikes or can be given without warning after a single violation.

2.  Appealing a Suspension

There are several ways to appeal suspensions related to to community guidelines or terms of services violations.

2.1 Use the Appeal Form
The normal approach is to submit an online appeal: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802168 (click on the word ‘form’).

The appeal usually takes a few days, but you should receive a response within a week. If the suspension occurred during or after a holiday, the waiting time can be longer.

If the appeal fails, you will get a boilerplate reply. Of course, that is not good news, but you can try appealing again. You will have a much better chance of winning an appeal if you can directly address the problem you are suspected of having. Unfortunately, the notifications either sent to your email or posted on your channel page are usually very vague and could relate to any number of possible suspected problems. That can make it very difficult to guess what you are alleged to have done.

Contrary to what many people believe the decision to suspend a channel for community guidelines violations or terms of use violations is not automated. At some point, YouTube staff approved of the decision to suspend the channel. Therefore, if a channel is suspended, there is either a reason for it or there has been a misunderstanding. If there really was a problem, the appeal will unlikely succeed unless you can persuade YouTube that the problem wasn’t serious enough to warrant a termination. If there was a misunderstanding, if you can figure out what may have caused the misunderstanding and explain that, the appeal will likely be successful. This article also covers possible areas in which misunderstandings may have occurred.

2.2 Backdoor Methods
These methods are additional ways to get your case heard.

  • Several YouTubers have stated that they have gotten their channels reinstated because of interventions on their behalf from YouTube Trusted Flaggers on Reddit or Twitter. These include the Reddit/Twitter users known as TrustedFlagger Ben (now inactive), @Contributors_YT (now inactive) and LightCodeGaming. These people generally prefer to remain anonymous, but seem to have some influence over video strikes and channel terminations. There are also reddits like YouTubeContributors (www.reddit.com/r/YouTubeContributors) where you can seek help. The influencers I mentioned never actually explain how they can affect the review process and it is unknown how much influence they have, but many of them are quite happy to take credit for getting people’s channels restored. It seems they will become inactive after becoming well-known, so I suspect that whatever they are doing is not approved by YouTube. Still, if such backdoor methods exist, you can try to take advantage of them.
  • You can try reaching out to YouTube via social media. For example, one YouTuber has claimed she was only able to get her channel reinstated by bringing her suspension up on YouTube’s Twitter account in India.
  • If you are partnered with an MCN (multi-channel network), they may be able to contact YouTube on your behalf. As far as I know, however, MCNs won’t provide much assistance unless they consider your channel to be important.
  • If you are partnered with YouTube itself, you can try contacting partner support: support.google.com/youtube/answer/3545535

2.3 Scams
If someone asks for your log-in information (or other personal details) or asks you to pay a fee for help in getting your channel reinstated, that would be a scam.

3. The Most Common Reasons for Channel Suspensions

Aside from copyright infringement, channel suspensions mainly involve five areas:

  1. Going too far in attempts to attract views. This is generally related to the metadata (e.g., titles, descriptions, tags, comments, links and thumbnails).
  2. Going too far in attempts to influence metrics such as subscriptions, views and likes. This often involves contests and promotions.
  3. Going too far in attempts to profit from the videos. This is often related to things like unrelated affiliate links, requests for money, trying to sign up YouTube viewers and pyramid schemes)
  4. Encouraging people to violate YouTube’s terms of service (e.g. linking to a YouTube downloader) or the terms of service of other social media platforms (e.g., demonstrating how to hack a Facebook account), software companies (e.g., providing links to cracked versions) or game publishers (e.g., posting videos showing game cheats or exploits) or to commit a crime, terrorist act or dangerous activity.
  5. Going into areas that YouTube wants to keep its site free from (e.g., pornography, fetishism, harrassment, hate speech, pedophila, etc.).

The first three areas are where most problems seem to occur. This is because YouTube encourages uploaders to make their videos search-engine friendly, build up a strong subscriber base and make money via their YouTube videos. When suspensions occur, it is often a matter of the YouTuber going too far.

4. The Spam, Scams, Misleading Content Suspension

This particular suspension encompasses a lot of possible areas that are discussed at different points in the article. Such a suspension could be related to anything under points 6. 7, 8, 9, 11, 16. 18 and 20 as well as many of the issues under point 10,

5. Your Content

One common misunderstanding is that suspensions are only related to the actual video. However, suspensions may be related to:

  • The video content
  • Metadata (titles, tags, video descriptions)
  • Comments and messages
  • Playlists
  • Video features like captions, annotations and cards
  • Channel descriptions, channel art and profile pictures

The majority of suspensions would be for inappropriate video content or problems with the metadata. Suspensions related to other kinds of content, though not as common, still do occur

You may be wondering how a channel with only a playlist and no videos may have problems. Let’s look at one possible example. If someone assembles a playlist of young girls doing stretching exercises and names it “nubile cuties in leotards”, it is a kind of fetishistic content and can lead to a channel suspension even though the playlist itself is comprised of videos that are uploaded by other people and are perfectly in line with the community guidelines.

6. Attracting Views: Issues with the Metadata (Title, Tags, Descriptions)

YouTube is the 2nd most popular search engine and is owned by Google, which runs the most popular one. Therefore, YouTube is very aggressive in dealing with attempts to unfairly manipulate search results. Most of the problems in this area are referred to by YouTube as ‘spam’ or “deceptive practices” and fall under this policy: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801973

6.1 Misleading titles
If the video doesn’t contain what the title says it should, that will cause problems. For example, if a video is entitled ‘five steps to happiness’ and it only contains someone saying “to find out the five steps to happiness, visit my website”, that would be considered a misleading title.

6.2 Click-bait titles
Some YouTubers find themselves in a Catch 22 when they use click-bait titles like ‘Free Cracked Gears of War’ or ‘Leaked Sex Tape of Hollywood Star’ . If the video has what the title suggests, it will likely be a community guidelines violation (due to inappropriate content). If the video doesn’t have that and the title is “just a joke”, that is a community guidelines violation, too (because of the misleading metadata.

6.3 Parodies and pranks: Titles and description
If you are doing a parody, it should be labeled as such in the title. Similarly if you are doing a kind of prank ‘advice’ video, there should be an indication somewhere in the description or video itself.

6.4. Unrelated or only marginally related tags (new policy: this should no longer lead to suspensions)
The tags should represent what the video is about. Having unrelated tags can result in a strike or channel take down. A more common problem occurs with people using tags that are only tangentially related to the video. If you include ‘Jennifer Lopez’ as a tag, she should be one of the main points of focus of your video, not just someone who was briefly mentioned in one sentence.It doesn’t matter if tags are related to others videos on your channel. Tags should refer only to what is in that specific video. A good rule of thumb is: if someone searching for that tag word or phrase will NOT consider your video to be what they are looking for, the tag is likely inappropriate.

Update: On 15 February 2017, YouTube initiated a new policy at the video level. Now videos with unrelated tags, will be set automatically to private and channel owners will have the opportunity to edit their tags and then appeal to have the videos made public again (without a loss of views). Only one appeal is allowed. If that is unsuccessful, channel owners would have to reupload the video to a new URL. No strikes will be given. Although channel suspensions were not mentioned, it would appear that the use of misleading tags will no longer result in such suspensions. However, this has not been confirmed by YouTube.

6.5 Tags in the description
Stuffing a description with list of tags is simply not allowed.

6.6 Lists in the description: Possible misunderstanding
There is nothing inherently wrong with lists, but sometimes lists of things—e.g., songs in a medley, art supplies needed to create a project—are mistaken for tags; therefore, it is better to avoid long lists. If you think this sort of misunderstanding may have caused a community guidelines strike, you can explain the situation in your appeal.

6.7 Irrelevant descriptions
The description should be related to the video content, channel and/or the production of the video (including information about the participants).

6.8 Same description in multiple videos: Possible misunderstanding
As the video description should describe the video, having the same description in multiple videos can lead YouTube to conclude that you are spammily uploading near identical videos. This sometimes happens when people use the same description for a long series of videos in order to save time.

6.9 No or minimal description: Possible misunderstanding
One of the purposes of the description is to put your video in context–to tell someone reviewing your video what it is about. If the description field is left empty, someone reviewing your video doesn’t have that context. For example, a video of you trying on shoes as part of a haul video could be be reported as a foot fetish video. When the YouTube reviewers take a look, and there is nothing in the description to provide any context, they may decide the report is correct and take the video down.

6.10 Overly-sensational descriptions and tags
This problem can occur if you are trying too hard to attract views. For example, if you make an educational video about breastfeeding and include things like “hot moms”, “sexy” and “big t***” in the description and tags, you are clearly presenting the video as a kind of fetish video and not at all as an educational video. As previously mentioned, one purpose of the video is to put it into context for anyone reviewing.

6.11 Unrelated links in the description
Links are fine, provided they relate in some way to the video (and are not referral links or affiliate links).

7. Attracting Views: Issues with Thumbnails

There are two common problems (these fall under YouTube’s policy on spam and deceptive content: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801973):

7.1 Unrelated thumbnails
If you are using misleading thumbnails as a kind of clickbait, that can be a violation as it would be viewed as an attempt to unfairly gain views.

7.2 Overly provocative thumbnails
The thumbnail should not only represent what is in the video, but should steer clear of nudity, fetishism and overly sexually provocative thumbnails. I came across a case recently in which the YouTuber had uploaded videos of females interacting with animals but had titled them and used thumbnails in such a way as to suggest the videos were really about bestiality. Clearly that would not be acceptable.

Also, together with titles and descriptions, thumbnails are another way in which you are telling viewers (and in the case of channel suspensions, YouTube reviewers) how they should interpret your video. Therefore, if your video contains sex or violence and you choose the sexiest or most violent shot to represent your video, you are in essence telling the viewer/reviewer what to expect and what your video is about. Therefore, if you video gets flagged for violence or nudity, an overly provocative thumbnail will harm your chances of getting a favorable decision.

8. Invalid Attempts to Influence Metrics
This would refer to schemes to boost thing like views, likes, comments and subscriptions. YouTube wants these metrics to reflect the viewer’s true wants. For example, YouTube wants people to subscribe to your channel because they are interested enough in your content to do so, and so that they can enter a giveaway

8.1 Giveaways and contests
If you force people to subscribe or comment on a video in order to be eligible to win, that would go against the guidelines on contests. A lot of channels do this, but that does not mean it is OK. Similarly, if it is found that you don’t follow any of the other guidelines on YouTube’s Policy on Contests (support.google.com/youtube/answer/1620498), that can also lead to suspensions.

8.2. Buying views, clicks or subscribers
It is against YouTube’s policy for channel owners to buy views (support.google.com/youtube/answer/3470104). This generally doesn’t lead to channel suspensions because it is next to impossible to prove. Usually, the only consequence are that bought views are rolled off, paid subscribers are cut away and monetization privileges are suspended. However, buying views, ad clicks or subscribers may still possibly lead to channel terminations.

8.3. Using viewbots, uploading bots or clickbots
The use of bots against YouTube’s terms of service. Of course, almost all third-party view providers will claim that they use real humans and not bots. However, if you use these services you are placing your trust in people running an unethical enterprise as well as they people they have contracted out to actually view the videos.

9. Money-related Issues

A lot of people look at the top YouTubers, who are able to bring in millions of dollars in every year, and want to use YouTube as major income stream. There is nothing wrong with that, but earning anything substantial from a YouTube channel is actually very rare, so sometimes people try too hard to squeeze whatever they can from their channels. This can lead to the following problems:

9.1 Affiliate links, referral links and ad.fly links in the description
Affiliate links are a grey area and Youtube has no clear official policy. The general consensus is that one or two links are acceptable if:

  • They are directly related to the content of the video. For example, if you are reviewing a book, an affiliate link to the Amazon page for that book would be “related”. An affiliate link to the Amazon page for the shirt you were wearing in the video or the camera you shot the video with would not.
  • They are identified as affiliate links.
  • They are not shortened.
  • Adfly links and other kinds of commercial links are not used.

YouTube doesn’t like it if you are profiting by sending people off its site (which is why ad.fly links are frowned upon). If it feels the main reason for your video to exist is to earn money off of the links, your video may be taken down. For this reason, it is better not to start your description with an affiliate link (even if it is related) as it is sending a message to YouTube that this is the main thing you want people to see.

9.2 Links to non-approved fan funding and merchandise sites in the description (or video)
The list of approved sites, such as Patreon is here: support.google.com/youtube/answer/6083754
If you request funding through some other means (e.g., via a bitcoin account), that can pose problems.

9.3 Cash for callouts
Don’t ask people to send you money in exchange for a callout in a video.

9.4 Videos that serve only as ads
Advertising is permitted on Youtube, but there should be some entertainment or informational value to the ad.

9.5 Videos that promote pyramid schemes and other kinds of scams
You should steer clear of any kind of scammy financial scheme as a video subject.

9.6 Links that send viewers to a sign-up or registration page
If you send viewers to your website, that is fine, but if the first thing the viewer sees is a pop-up window requesting them to sign up and leave their personal information, that may be construed as using YouTube as a means to harvest its users’ personal information.

9.7 Monetization without commercial rights
If you habitually monetize videos you don’t have the right to monetize, this can lead to a suspension of monetization abilities. Usually that is all that will happen, but there is the potential for a channel takedown of YouTube feels you are habitually abusing its monetization policies. Recently I have noticed several takedowns affecting channels with no obvious problems by all with the same profile: recent rapid growth, a large number of copyright infringing videos being uploaded and monetization of these videos.

9.8 Ad campaigns on your own monetized videos
This is kind of like paying YouTube to pay you. If you are going to run a campaign through YouTube to promote your videos, you should demonetize them first.

10. Encouragement to Violate YouTube’s Terms of Service, Violate the Terms of Service of Other Companies, to Commit Crimes or to Perform Dangerous Acts

10.1 YouTube Downloader links (or encouragement to use a downloader)
It is against YouTube’s terms of service to download videos without authorization. Therefore inviting viewers to download your video from YouTube (in the description, comments or video itself) via a third-party service would be encouraging viewers to violate YouTube’s terms of service. This falls under the policy on encouraging terms of service violations: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801981

10.2 Videos showing and links leading to software or game cracks, hacks, mods, cheats or exploits
YouTube does not want its services used to undermine other products. Videos involving cracks, cheats and hacks are never a good idea. Whether a video with mods is OK mainly depends on the policy of the game or software developer.

10.3 Hacking videos
YouTube is especially sensitive to hacking videos. Some people will argue that by posting the videos, they can help a company eliminate vulnerabilities. This is a disingenuous excuse. The best way to do that would be to reach out to the company directly and not disseminate hacking techniques on a worldwide video platform. Similarly, if you are showing people how to protect themselves from being hacked, is it really necessary to show in detail how to do the hack in the first place?

Hacking would generally fall under YouTube’s policy on circumvention of technological measures:support.google.com/youtube/answer/6156383

10.4 Hacking: possible misunderstanding
The word ‘hack’ alone simply being enough to raise a red flag even when used innocuously (e.g., top 10 life hacks) or in an educational context (How to keep your Facebook account safe from hacks). If you had the word ‘hack’ in your title or description in such contexts, you can explain your innocent use of the word in your appeal.

10.5 Dangerous activities: Challenge videos
People like watching dangerous things. In the past, however, TV shows and videos tended to include disclaimers like “These stunts were performed by trained professions. Do not try this at home.“ However, since the ice-bucket challenge proved popular, a lot of things that carry some minor risk are now being presented as a “Yeah, try this at home!” challenge The problem comes with challenge videos that by their nature encourage viewers (some of whom are young children) to do similar stunts. Some things look harmless, but have the potential to do harm, especially if done by young children. These include:

  • Cinnamon challenge (choking, asphyxiation, inflammation and scarring of the lungs)
  • Duct tape challenge could lead to suffocation if done by really young kids, could lead to head injuries if the ‘victim’ falls over (as they have no means to protect themselves from the falls)
  • Fire challenge (burns, obviously)
  • Alcohol challenge (alcohol poisoning)
  • Condom challenge (choking)
  • Cold water challenge (hypothermia and drowning)

Challenge videos are fall under YouTube’s policy on harmful or dangerous content (support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801964), though these guidelines do not specifically mention challenge videos.

10.6 Illegal activities and drug use
If you make a bomb-making video, don’t be surprised if it gets pulled. If you are teaching people how to make meth, that would also not be wise,Of course a lot of things are in a grey area. What about smoking marijuana and getting high on screen? Marijuana is legal in some places but not in others. How would that be handled? Is your video promoting illegal drug use or is simply educating people about the effects of a drug? Or what if the whole thing is an act and you aren’t really high at all? What if is just part of a short drama in which one of the characters gets high?

In any case, if you are shown to be getting high in your video, you may be forcing YouTube to make a judgement call. Scenes of drug use would be more acceptable in dramatic and educational contexts.

10.7 Links to inappropriate sites (e.g., pornography)
If you were to link to a pornography site, that could cause problems

10.8 Links to sites selling federally-regulated goods
It is advisable not to link to things like firearms retailers or websites selling pharmaceuticals.

10.9 Counterfeit and knock-off products
You should not promote counterfeit products. Even videos in which you are educating people about the differences between an authentic product and a counterfeit are risky as the trademark/patent owner of the existing product may not want a worldwide audience being informed that counterfeits of its products are available. The policy regarding counterfeits is here: support.google.com/youtube/answer/6154227

10.10 Dupes and alternative products: Possible misunderstanding
Another problem arises with YouTubers who make videos about legitimate products that can act as cheaper alternative to more expensive products. The problem occurs when the YouTubers themselves use ambiguous language (e.g., Dupes, which is a word derived from duplicate) or incorrect words (e.g., Knock-off, which implies a kind of patent nfringement) to describe the products in their video. If you are presenting a cheaper alternative, just call it that.

10.11 Terrorism
Videos supporting and/or inciting terrorism are not allowed. This is covered in the polciy on dangerous or graphic content (https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802008)

11. Large Amounts of Repetitive, Unsolicited, Untargeted Content

YouTube refers to this as spam and it is under the policy on spam, deceptive practices, and scams (support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801973)

One thing this policy would definitely refer to is copy-pasting comments and shamelessly promoting one’s own channel in comments sections, but this is usually dealt with by issuing a commenting ban.

Some channels simply upload things like photos of a product and an automated voice reading from a promotional brochure. Such a video would not offer any kind of value whatsoever and a channel full of them could be suspended.

Uploading different language versions of the same video would not be a problem. Uploading exactly the same video on another account would also not be a problem. Uploading the exact same video in several accounts, however, could be interpreted as spam.

12. Sexual Content, Nudity and Predatory Behaviour

YouTube’s Guidelines on Nudity and Sexual Content: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802002

Three is a lot of misunderstanding about this. Of course, being a family-oriented site, YouTube does not allow porn. When reviewing videos flagged for nudity or sexual content YouTube is not only looking at how explicit the video is, but it is also considering the purpose. As the guidelines state: “If a video is intended to be sexually provocative, it is less likely to be acceptable for YouTube.”

There are allowances for nudity and sexual material for artistic and educational purposes, but simply slapping an artistic or educationall label on something doesn’t make it so.

12.1 Pornography
Obviously, it is not allowed.

12.2 Nudity
It is allowed to a certain extent depending on the purpose, though the video may be age restricted. For example, it may be allowed for educational or artistic purposes, but if the main reason for the video is sexually provocative for the sake of being sexually provocative, it may be removed and the channel associated with it punished

12.3 Fetish videos
A lot of people have turned to YouTube to explore their own fetishes or to earn money by exploiting the fetishes of others. Fetishes range from foot fetishes to emetophilia (sexual arousement via vomiting) to breastfeeding to beastiality. If the main purpose of the video appears to be to turn people on (sexually), it may violate the community guidelines related to sexual content though no nudity or sexual activity is shown. Some fetish videos are, such as foot fetish videos are not graphic at all, but would still be considered inappropriate.

12.4 Inadvertent fetish videos
These are videos that start off innocently enough, but attract a fetishistic audience. This becomes apparent in the content. For example, a guy may start of doing workout videos wearing only a pair of tight shorts in order to better show off his body. However, if the comments start becoming lewd (e.g. I love your package) and suggestive (e.g., “”Can you wear wet white cotton briefs next time?”), it can turn the video into a fetish video. The channel owner would have a choice:
try to cool things off by disabling comments and wearing less provocative clothes or leave things be and and risk losing the channel.

12.5 Sexualization of minors
Children and young teens should not be presented in a sexually suggestive context. This would fall under YouTube’s policy on child endangerment (support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801999)

12.6 Inadvertent sexualization of minors
Similar to the above, a young teen running a channel may begin to pander to suggestive comments and requests not knowing they are sexual or fetishistic in nature and inadvertently create content that appeals to pedophiles.

12.7 Fetishistic playlists and playlists that sexualize minors
As mentioned earlier, it is possible for a channel to suspended based solely on playlists. If a girl uploads a video of her doing gymnastics in a leotard, that is just a gymnastics video.If someone comes along and then makes a playlist of such videos entitled “young girls stretching in leotards”, that is a lot creepier and a lot less innocent.

12.8 Predatory behaviour
This refers to adults trying to strike up relationships with minors online. This would be done via comments or messages. This would fall under YouTube’s policy on child endangerment (support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801999)

13. Violent or Graphic Content

YouTube’s Policy on Violent or Graphic Content: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802008

This only rarely results in channel suspensions. YouTube has a high tolerance for violence provided there is some kind of context (e.g., you are reporting on people being attacked during a riot), though it is likely violent and graphic videos will be age-restricted and made ineligible for monetization. If the main purpose of the video however, is to shock people that could cause problems unless your video was clearly fictional

14. Hate Speech

YouTube’s Policy on Hate Speech: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801939

It is actually quite difficult to get a channel suspension for this. You have to be actively promoting violence against or hatred for a specific group based on their race or ethnic origin, religion, disability, gender, age, veteran status, sexual orientation/gender identity.

YouTube’s policy regarding hate speech lies somewhere between the American legal system’s anything-goes free speech laws and the hate speech laws of countries like England. Thus, some American find YouTube too controlling while people in other countries may be surprised at what is allowed.

15. Harassment

YouTube’s Policy on Harrasment: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802268

YouTube is notorious for rude and ill-informed commenting. To a large extent this is allowed. There is a policy intended to protect users from harassment, but the action needs to be quite obvious and serious. If you upload a video of yourself, to a certain extent, you are pushing yourself into the public sphere and are open to the same kind of abusive comments that celebrities get. According you YouTube’s policy harassment MAY include:

  • Abusive videos, comments, messages
  • Revealing someone’s personal information
  • Maliciously recording someone without their consent
  • Deliberately posting content in order to humiliate someone
  • Making hurtful and negative comments/videos about another person
  • Unwanted sexualization, which encompasses sexual harassment or sexual bullying in any form
  • Incitement to harass other users or creators

Some of the points in the above list are meant to deter Doxxing and other forms of online attacks. It is OK to negatively comment on another channel, but if you instruct your own fans to interfere with someone else’s life and/or YouTube channel,that would be going too far.

Another form of harassment would include actual threats (YouTube’s Policy on Threats: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801947)

Blackmail is another kind of harassing behaviour and is included in YouTube’s policy on scams (support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801973).

16. Impersonation

YouTube’s Policy on Impersonation: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801947

If you impersonate another channel or user, YouTube may consider this a form of harassment and your channel may be suspended. Individuals can report impersonation to YouTube directly while businesses and organizations would need to submit a legal complaint.

17. Privacy

YouTube’s Policy on Privacy: support.google.com/youtube/answer/2801895

If you receive a privacy complaint, this usually will not lead to an immediate taken down. Usually, you would be given the option to blur the faces of people in your video. For a privacy complaint to be accepted YouTube looks at how identifiable the person is as well as how public they are. For example, if someone uploads a video clip of themselves to YouTube and you use a screenshot of that video, they wouldn’t get very far making a privacy complaint.

Privacy complaints would generally only lead to a takedown if there was malicious intent as well as an invasion of privacy (and this would fall under the policy on harassment (“Maliciously recording someone without their consent.)

18. Trademarks

Generally speaking, if you are doing a product review, you do have the right to show that product in the video (it is a kind of trademark-related fair use). The two main things to avoid would be:
Making your video appear to be an official or officially endorsed release. For example, ‘’Revlon’s New Lipstick Line” is potentially misleading, whereas “My Review of Revlon’s New Lipstick Line” would be a lot clearer. Also, you should avoid using trademarked logos and slogans more than necessary (e.g., don’t use the logo in the thumbnail).
Showing the trademarked item or logo in ways that could bring the brand into disrepute.

Trademark infringement problems are generally resolved by removing or asking you to remove problematic videos. If the trademark problem is compounded by problems related to counterfeiting (see Section 9.10), that can lead to channel suspensions.. YouTube’s trademark policy is here: support.google.com/youtube/answer/6154218

19. TOS Section 4 Part H

This is the part of the Terms of Service that deals with bots (used for mass uploading,viewing and/or subscribing) and also with harvesting user data. However, it used to be relatively common for YouTube to send this notification of violations unrelated to anything in that section.

20. Ineligible Channels

As mentioned earlier, channel suspensions are:

  1. given to the user
  2. are permanent
  3. affect all channels managed by that user

Thus, if you don’t resolve a channel suspension and instead keep making new channels, the very existence of the channels would be Community Guidelines/Terms of Service violations and could result in their termination.

22. Buying & Selling Channels

This would violate the terms of service.

22. Mass Flagging

By itself, a mass flagging campaign against your channel, will not work. This is because reports are reviewed before strikes and suspensions are dished out. The problem is that many channels have one or more of the many problems listed above and it only takes a few “correct” reports to bring a channel down.

23. Avoiding Channel Suspensions

Basically you just need to to do two things. The first is to ensure your channel has none of the problems listed on this page and that you closely adhere to YouTube’s terms of service and community guidelines. The second thing to do is to use the titles, description and thumbnails wisely so that if any videos of yours are flagged, the reviewer knows exactly what they are looking at and exactly what you intended.

~by longzijun


Return to Video Making


54 thoughts on “Was Your YouTube Channel Suspended for No Reason? (A Guide to Community Guidelines-related Suspensions)

  1. I have no Strikes , no copyright , No violanted no break the policy
    I spend a lot of time , to create m recording with bandicam, editing with adobe premier pro cs 6, and uploading my videos , and get 65 subscribe .. My account suspended because no reason and i need it back because i didnt break the rules, if i did i will not talk enymore, but i didnt do anything oh my god youtube not good

  2. Dear YouTube, I surely know that my channel follow all rules and regulations my channel not voileted any community guidelines. Sir please recheck my account.
    my videos are my won created and i have confident of my videos are not copyright nd community guidelines against I sure that my channel suspended by your some error So please as soon as reactive my account Thank you. please recheck my channel please and give me my channel please please Thank you.

    Please Check My Channel Again Please back my channel

    channel link: – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgua5nrfcPEIyJcPgxY-kUg
    channel name: geeta baba 786
    fb – https://www.facebook.com/geetababa786/
    blog – http://geetababa786.blogspot.in/

  3. I’m noow not sure the place you aare getting yojr info,
    but great topic. I needs to soend a while learning more or working out more.
    Thanks for magnificent information I used to be lpoking for
    this information forr my mission.

  4. I once have a youtube channel that got terminated/suspended. and youtube’s rules is once you get suspended/terminated you are prohibited from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube accounts, and yeah they lived up to their rules, cause I created a youtube channel using my identity and got suspended for no reason, I guess I am really banned for life. my question is what if I create another youtube account using one of my family’s Identity? will they still suspend it? will they know it? or they will suspend all the accounts under the IP Address in our household?

    please answer. cause my sister really want to create a youtube account but I’m worried her account will just get suspend because of the IP Address.

  5. YT runs by BOTS …..
    we got suspend by bots and humans(workers on YT) can’t find out WHY !!!??

    “”Hi there,
    It looks like your account has been suspended for YouTube’s Terms of Service, specifically section 4H.
    This section has to do with spam practices or using robots, spiders, or other automated systems to gain views, subscribers, etc.
    Repeated violations of this or other Community Guidelines may result in exclusion from the partnership program and termination of your YouTube account.
    If you think this was a mistake and you’d like to appeal your suspension, you can submit an appeal using this form.

    If you have additional questions, feel free to reply to this email.

    Yuuki “””

    LoL :>> “using robots, spiders, or other automated systems to gain views, subscribers, etc.
    i dont have any clue about this !!?

  6. Oh, that is the worst notification to receive. I get the impression that it is sometimes used randomly in place of other alleged violations. Therefore, it is very difficult to appeal.

    One relatively common thing that would fall under that notification would be providing a link to an email registration page (that would be harvesting user information).

    When you are appealing you would want to cover those areas (bots, spiders, harvesting data), but also mention other area where there are no violations. Normally when you appeal, you should focus on only the things mentioned in the notification. However, I think appealing a 4H suspension is the exception to this rule.

  7. HI longzijun ,

    I don’t have any idea, maybe is my account hacked ,i don’t know :s

    Google had my acc suspended , they asked my tel.number, i give them my tel.number to verify my account
    And from then, everyday calling me RUSSIAN numbers with land code +7 from burundi +257, Hungary +36……etc ,(all sex call centers)…

    -Before i didn’t have never such calls …I assume that GOOGLE aka YT sells our phone numbers !!

    -I’m investigation this matter further with state bodies in my country, If its shows that GOOGLE sells the tel.num, or maybe the GOOGLE SERVERS hacked by Russian hackers ,than they have a BIG problem with EU law.

    have nice day .

  8. Hello,

    We have looked into your request and found that you have recently sent an
    appeal. Please wait for the result of your current appeal. If it has
    already been decided, please refer to that outcome. Note: You cannot appeal
    a second time.

    The YouTube Team

  9. Hi I have a problem, I was suspended from my Youtube account and have no idea why. My account is only new and I have no video content on it and I barely made any comments on other channels. The ones I did make guaranteed were not offensive or worthy of suspension. I don’t know if it’s possible that accidental spam could be attached to the problem as I have posted the same comment more than once. But still….is that bad enough to get suspension? I also don’t know if it’s possible that my account got hacked as I was signed out of my google account suddenly a few days ago and I have no clue why. It said suspicious activity was detected from my account as in trying to sign in on more than one device. That was very odd because I did not at any point sign in on another device. I don’t know what to do. They say best chance of getting around suspension is to point out the problem but I genuinely don’t know what it is.

  10. it is likely related to

    (a) What you just mentioned–hacking–so give as much detail about that as possible in your appeal or
    (b) Problems with a previously owned account (if you had an old or alternate account suspended in the past, the suspension applies to all accounts/channels you own or create) or
    (c) Copy-pasting comments can also lead to suspensions, but it would depend on what was in the comment and how many times you posted it. if there were any links in the comment, that could definitely cause a ‘spam’ problem.

  11. Hi Longzijun, thanks for your response.

    Firstly I can’t determine that my account was hacked into for definite although this notice that I received appeared odd. I cannot go back into my account to investigate if there is content on it I don’t recognize because I no longer have access to it frustratingly.

    However in relation to the same comment I posted, it wasn’t an abusive post, contained no foul language, threats or anything towards other users. The comment was posted in response to a debate over whether a certain actor’s comments “were gay” and I made a post explaining the irony of the whole actresses in Hollywood caught trading roles for sex and yet an actress is being labelled “gay and weird” because she is 23 and won’t date. I did copy and paste that response to a few people who said the same thing as food for thought. And honestly this is the only thing I can think of that I might have done wrong although I think YouTube took very extreme actions against me for that if so but if that’s one of the rules then I certainly wouldn’t attempt that again as I was unaware.

    My other channel was not previously suspended. The reason I made my second channel recently is because I had my other account for a long time with no content and I wanted a fresh start with a new account because I was considering building a channel. It never made it that far however and I have this account only a couple of weeks.

    My first account actually only got suspended when my second one did as they are both under my name.

    And I’m afraid I might have made the situation worse because I sent in an application already and I admit I didn’t go into much detail because I asked them to review it for themselves, thinking they would see I clearly wrote or did nothing to warrant that.

    Well now they sent me an emailing telling me my account is still suspended and I can’t try to appeal it again which I was surprised about to say the least. I also think I may have filled it out incorrectly because I didn’t put in the google account email, I used my gmail and I discovered afterwards that I wasn’t supposed to.

    I really am in a huge pickle and I don’t even know how or why I find myself in this situation. Is there any hope for me or an option to appeal again at all? I’m really desperate at this stage because the more I am reading about others’ experiences, the more bleak this sounds.

    Also I have to add there after what you said that I didn’t post links in any comments I wrote. It’s possible I was flagged by people who didn’t appreciate me calling them out or that my copy pasting was seen as spam or bot behavior.

    I’m even more frustrated that they suspended my old account too however because it had all my channel subscriptions and people I followed on it.

    If you have any advice I would be grateful.

  12. Oh and one other thing, I just read on the YouTube support site that you are supposed to get warning emails when you get a strike for doing something wrong. And if you get 3 strikes your account gets terminated for multiple breaches. Well I never received a single email to notify me that I even got one strike on either of my accounts. It was just automatically removed.

  13. YouTube could make it clearer. On this page, however, it is stated that a single violation can lead to a channel termination (in this case, there is no warning or strike) : https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802168

    “Community Guidelines terminations
    Reasons accounts are terminated:

    Repeated violations of the Community Guidelines or Terms of Service
    A single case of severe abuse (such as predatory behavior or spam)
    Accounts dedicated to a policy violation (hate speech, harassment, impersonation, etc)”

  14. So it’s possible that just one case that they consider spamming can be deleted without warning? That seems a little harsh to be honest. I know it’s their rules but I never intended for my comments to come across as malicious spamming. And as I said, I never threatened anyone or used abusive language, they can check it out for themselves and see that.

    I decided instead of filling out that form again that I would reply in email form to try and explain the situation and the fact that I left out important info in the appeal form. If I don’t get any reply I don’t know what to do because apparently it’s forever.

    Would you recommend that I fill out a second appeal for my old channel? I haven’t done so yet but if they wanted to investigate both of them it might help. I haven’t used my old channel in a good while but the last comment on that was the owner of an avian channel liking my comment.

    I think I deserve an explanation at least.

  15. Oh and actually in the email I got it mentioned multiple breaches of the community guidelines, it didn’t mention singular. That’s actually quite confusing for me because like I said, I haven’t used my old account in a long time and haven’t engaged in any malicious behavior and my new account is the same. I only had it running a couple of weeks and commented on 3 videos with the most “controversial” if you like being the video debate I mentioned to you.

    If I did have “multiple breaches” why did I get no warning? Although none of it makes sense to me in all honesty.

  16. This is probably important to mention actually. My Google + account is erased too. I got this email just before the YouTube one but I presumed the reason why that was erased is because it is linked to my YouTube account. I don’t and never have used Google +. But since you have to submit your google + specific email in your application rather than gmail, this has been impossible for me to find.

  17. It should be the other way around. A YouTube suspension doesn’t normally affect the Google account. However, if the Google account is taken down it always takes the YouTube channels with it. The first step would be to appeal the Google account termination.

  18. Hi Longzijun,

    Just thought I would let you know the good news that my account that was accused of being at fault for spam has been unsuspended.

    The Google + by the way was a false alarm, I was using it on desktop and I think I had not logged in. It’s automatically working on my phone.

    Thank you for your advice. I found out that the error was actually with my old YouTube being accused of spam and as I had not logged into my emails in a while, I thought that my new channel was the one at fault.

    So I appealed on my old channel. I knew that I had not engaged in any of the scams or spams or deceptive actions that my account had been accused of so I carefully included every rule and explained how I had not participated in these practices.

    My email came today saying that it had been reviewed again and unsuspended. It just goes to show that humans can make mistakes too and that it’s one of those things.

    Thank you for being supportive throughout this. It made me doubt myself quite a lot but I knew that I had never committed multiple rule breaks of the description they said and was careful to review this myself.

    My newer channel is still terminated however due to my old account being terminated. Will this lift now that the issue has been resolved or does another appeal need to be submitted?

    I would also be concerned that in the future, they might confuse this as being the violating channel and suspend others in the future. I want all my channels cleared.

    Thank you for your help and patience. Also thank you for answering my questions directly. YouTube help can sometimes ignore your question.

  19. Yes, you need to get all channels cleared. It should be done automatically. If the new one doesn’t get cleared in a day or two, you better appeal that one as well (BTW, there is still the slight possibility that the two channels were suspended independently of one another).

  20. Hi great blog you have some great info for fellow youtubers and you seem very knowledgable on how to approach YouTube… can you please advise me on what to do my YouTube channel has been demonetized for resubmitted ineligible videos but I didn’t resubmit videos because those videos I got a review because of yellow doller sign were manually approved and green doller symbol was applied I really do believe this is a mistake on YouTube’s part is there any way I can appeal it as I’m losing out on a lot of money £200-£300 per day for something I believe I have been caught up in, my channel does not break any rules please I need your help. I am willing to pay CASH to anyone who can help reinstate my monetisation as I have done nothing wrong channels that’s produce the same content as me have still got ads why me I am innocent. Also I have started a thread on YouTube product forums and I’m getting told it’s usually permanent but I know of at least 10 channels that had channel demonetizatun and are now having ads on there videos please I’m desperate for your help I can provide a email address if you prefer to contact me that way Thank you in advance I have nowhere else to turn PLEASE

  21. For that message, it usually means YouTube suspects you did not own the commercial rights to everything you were trying to monetize (the word ‘resubmit’ may be misleading).

  22. Thank you so much for getting back to me…ok we didn’t have a email when we were demonetized it says in the YouTube dashboard “monetisation is disabled due to repeated submission of ineligible videos and or insufficient documentation “ what do you advise I do will deleting the videos reinstate monetisation even though I havnt gone against YouTube TOS . I really do appreciate your time thank you again

  23. Oh…that channel does not seem to be monetizable. YouTube implemented new guidelines a couple of months ago dealing with the use of trademarked characters and weird videos for children (e.g., in your thumbnail for the most recent video, you have a crocodile emerging from the stomach of a man).

    This was in response to an ad boycott known as ‘elsagate’.

    View story at Medium.com

    In terms of monetization, that channel is basically finished. In my opinion, basically, you have a choice of deleting everything, keeping the subscribers and starting from scratch (and hoping the monetization ban isn’t permanent), starting a new channel or simply continue what you are doing (without monetization). In any case, you will need to tone down the weirdness a LOT and not rely so much on trademarked characters.

  24. Thank you for taking a look at my channel and sparing your time to look into it for me, I still don’t understand why they would just demonetize and not terminate if we were breaking rules. Thanx again

  25. there are no real people to review the appeal of this error. if there are some real people to review your appeal then they must have a brain to review the channel but nowadays you going to wash out the small youtubers and this is so sad. even I was facing this problem even my channel and videos are legitimate
    And Youtube has no care about small content creators just F**uk even you create new channel youtube will be ready to suspend this one for sure in just a couple of weeks.
    check out my site and blog. http://www.hollydayfy.cf and freeseoforblogger.blogspot.com

  26. The channel isn’t breaking any rules (as far as I can see)…it is just not totally suitable for the target age group (and that whole genre is being demonetized).

  27. Well that’s the annoying part my target age group is 13 plus as I cut up squishy toys as this was a trend and still is and thought adding in the mr doh toy was different to most as a huge YouTubeer toy genie did the exact same so thought oooo this looks fun let’s give it a go I never thought that the mr doh itself would mean targeting younger children the thing that’ grinds on me most is that a whole bunch of huge youtubers have jumped on the bandwagon and guess what they still have ads on the exact same content as mine do I delete and hope to regain monetisation? Thanks again you have been amazing taking time to help :-)

  28. That is exactly the genre that is being demonetized (videos more appropriate for 13+ but using kids toys and characters and therefore drawing in a large audience of very young children). In the next few months. YouTube will be doing a lot of channel monetization reviews, so I expect a lot of the channels you are talking about will be demonetized in the process. The demonetization process for your genre started late last year.

    You will need to think about where you go from here.

  29. Right ok I’m starting to understand abit more now so say I did just cutting up squishy toys would this too be demonetized? Its so disheartening that people who have copied my videos are earning on videos I created and my expense as they have ads but they are my videos on fake channels but I can’t earn. Thank you again much appreciated really is :-)

  30. It will likely be demonetized. It is ‘better’ than your channel in that it doesn’t feature so many trademarked children’s characters and the thumbnails are more appropriate. It is ‘worse’ than your channel in that it treats scissors as a kind of toy and models a kind of destructive behavior to children.

    To be frank, this whole genre is problematic and the videos really should not be monetized. The main focus of such channels is on things like views, thumbnails, ease of production, tags and monetization. The videos are mainly viewed by young children, but there is very little attention paid to things like intellectual stimulation, creativity, socialization skills or moral development. Children’s programming should be more responsible (think of shows like Sesame Street, Blues Clues, the Electric Family, Dora the Explorer and the Wiggles, etc.). That is why I said you need to rethink your channel concepts.

  31. My account was suspended and I still don’t understand why!
    I appealed and was told it would remain suspended. All I did was publish my portrait art and I got suspended. No nudity, vulgarity or gore. It’s sad, actually.

  32. Excellent article although if YT still don’t tell you exactly why they suspended the account even after making an appeal to find out why? then whats the point – you really are at the mercy of someone who just clicks “ban” for something to do? – terrible service and now Im off to upload on Vimeo and Daily Motion – I relly hope YT’s new streaming service does well !!!!

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  34. My name is ‘wayne cabrera’ has channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCb-o4N29MDlC8qGKq85bpdQ) has been suspended due to someone complaining I violated the copyright. Actually, my videos made by myself have a lot of content that people love and follow. I followed the steps of following the instructions but received an automated message. I have all the evidence to prove but I do not know how to do that when youtube just respond to the template automatically. is considering . 7 days. YouTube responds to my videos that violate the community. But actually those videos have content that helps children learn and entertain. has been censored by the youtube staff and has reported that the content is friendly. When I asked to restore the channel, YouTube created a new channel for me. I feel so disappointed. until now I no longer get feedback. I do not know what the outcome will be. All my friends who are watching me are wanting youtube to recover their account. I need to talk to someone so that I can prove my account is not infringing. Look forward to the support of somebody. thank you

  35. wayne cabrera if you seriously think that you will “the support of somebody” then you will be waiting a long time – I had my channel deleted June 5th – and Im still waiting or YT to tell me excactly why and not send some generic @terms” etc – waste of time and bloody ignorant too – although I hope you get some answers :-0

  36. I blog often and I genuinely appreciate your content.
    This great article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take
    a note of your website and keep checking for new
    information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.

  37. My account got suspended with no content on it at all – no video uploads, no playlists, no publicly liked videos, no logo or pictures used as avatars. Nothing. So I can only assume I got suspended for a comment I made (no idea what, though, as I don’t use profanities nor make offensive, abusive or judgemental comments). Freedom of speech…

  38. I need your help, I think I did violate a rule on YT but If I did is it possible for me to wait for another couple months before I appeal again. My channel was suspended/terminated about 4 months ago, here’s what they said after I appeal like the third time: Hello,

    Thank you for contacting us. We have carefully reviewed your account appeal.

    Upon review we have found that one or several of your comments were in violation of the Community Guidelines and we have decided to keep your account suspended based on our Community Guidelines and Terms of Service.

    For more information on YouTube’s Community Guidelines and how they are enforced on comments, please our Policy and Safety Hub: https://www.youtube.com/yt/policyandsafety/.

    Account terminations do not expire. Users whose accounts have been terminated are prohibited from accessing, possessing or creating any other YouTube accounts. If your termination appeal has been rejected, then you will not be able to recover your account.

    For more information about Account Terminations, please visit our Help Center: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2802168.

    The YouTube Team

    What do I do?

  39. Unfortunately, it looks like there is nothing more to do, though you can try to appeal again (as it won’t hurt). It looks like you are permanently suspended, If you want to run a channel again, the usual workaround is to get someone else to take care of all the administrative work (e.g., setting up the account and channel and adsense, uploading videos, commenting, promotion etc), with your job being to produce the videos only.

  40. Respected youtube team.
    Sir my channel is suspended without any reason i dont know the reason of suspension of my channel.fo please sir help me i promise to you i never do any thing wrong and i dont do anything mistake.sir i have do any thing mistake please sir forgive me and give me my channel back i was statrting work on my channel original work original videos i uploaded sir you can check my account again i have no copywrite.sir now i requst please sir give me back my channel please sir please

  41. Respected youtube team.
    Sir my channel is suspended without any reason i dont know the reason of suspension of my channel.so please sir help me i promise to you i never do any thing wrong and i dont do anything mistake.sir if i have do any thing mistake please sir forgive me and give me my channel back i was statrting work on my channel original work original videos i uploaded sir you can check my account again i have no copywrite.sir now i requst please sir give me back my channel please sir please

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