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Canada: Keep YouTube Yours

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Editor's note: We’re sharing more below on what we believe is at stake for Canadians and Canadian creators. If you want to add your voice to the conversation, you can sign OpenMedia’s petition here. Canada, let’s work together to Keep YouTube Yours.

For over fifteen years, YouTube has been connecting Canadians to the content they love, from Charlotte Cardin’s newest music video, to house renos with JENerationDIY. Our systems have been designed to recognize and respect the needs of each of our users so that we’re able to serve you the content that you want, in the moment that you want it.

Earlier this year, The Online Streaming Act (Bill C-11) was introduced in Canada with the stated goal of supporting the creation and promotion of Canadian content. We wholeheartedly support Canadian creators and Canadian storytelling, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done to-date to foster the creator economy in this country. New research from Oxford Economics shows that in 2021, YouTube’s creative ecosystem directly contributed $1.1 billion to Canada's GDP. This continued growth comes from access to an audience of billions, where Canadian creators can find an audience here at home and around the world. In fact, over 90% of watch time on Canadian channels comes from outside of Canada.

But what’s deeply concerning is that the current version of the Bill has the potential to disadvantage the Canadian creators who build their businesses on our platform, and change the personalized experience of millions of Canadians who visit YouTube every day.

We have a responsibility to our Canadian viewers and creators to inform them of changes to their online experience. And we think it's worth standing up for our viewers’ interests and creators’ livelihoods.

Today we’re sharing more about what we believe is at stake for Canadians and Canadian creators.

Let me explain why this is so important.

YouTube is a personalized experience for everyone, built on the principle of helping you find the videos you want to watch and will be valuable to you. And we use many signals to do this, including clicks, watchtime, shares, likes, and more. This helps us introduce viewers to new content and creators they may not have thought to look for.

In its current form, Bill C-11 would require YouTube to manipulate these systems, and surface content according to the CRTC’s priorities, rather than the interests of Canadian users. Put into practice, this means that when viewers come to the YouTube homepage, they’re served content that a Canadian Government regulator has prioritized, rather than content they are interested in.

When users are recommended content that is not personally relevant, they react by tuning out - skipping the video, abandoning the video, or even giving it a ‘thumbs down’. When our Search and Discovery systems receive these signals, they learn that this content is not relevant or engaging for viewers, and then apply this on a global scale. This means that globally, Canadian creators will have a harder time breaking through and connecting with the niche audiences who would actually love their content. That directly hits the bottom line of Canadian creators, making it harder for them to build a sustainable business.

In the spring we saw tens of thousands of Canadian creators raise their voices to share their concerns, but their concerns were not addressed. What’s more, millions of Canadians aren’t even aware of the bill, or that their online experience could potentially change.

Respecting the individuality of every user who comes to our platform and meeting their unique needs is a key part of what makes YouTube so special. Does it make sense for a regulator to curate your experience on YouTube to reflect the government’s priorities? We believe that the diversity of content, creators, and users is our strength and we want to preserve the rich experience that Canadians enjoy today.

This is a conversation that impacts so many. YouTube creators and Canadians must be made aware of what could change, and given the opportunity to ensure their voices are heard.

OpenMedia, a community-driven organization that works to keep the Internet open, has done significant work in this space to keep Canadians informed on the Bill. Canadian users and creators: If you want to add your voice to the conversation, you can sign OpenMedia’s petition here.

I look forward to discussing this with policymakers, to ensure we continue to do everything that we can to support all of the players of our ecosystem, and offer workable solutions.

Canada, let’s work together to Keep YouTube Yours.