This discourse analytical article deals with the power relations between social media corporations and content creators in the context of monetization schemes of social media businesses, i.e., schemes that allow creators to monetize their social media content. Specifically, this study presents an analysis of discourse material pertaining to YouTube’s monetization scheme (the YouTube Partner Program [YPP]) to shed light on the broader point of how social media corporations position themselves in relation to creators who (seek to) earn money on social media. While some research on social media has focused on their potential to empower users/content creators, less optimistic scholars have addressed social media corporations generating massive profits by exploiting creators, for example, in the form of free digital labor. By comparison, there is a lack of research, especially empirical discourse analytical research, on creators’ paid digital labor and on how social media corporations conceptualize paid creators. This study redresses this gap regarding one of the oldest monetization schemes—the YPP. Using corpus linguistic tools to explore textual data from 46 YouTube sites detailing the YPP, this study homes in on references to content creators, YouTube, and how these players are connected to one another. The findings show that although the name YPP elicits the impression of cooperation on equal terms, YouTube represents itself as legislator, judge, and executive authority. This indicates that despite the ability of partnered content creators to share in the social media businesses’ profits, they do not inhabit a particularly empowered position.
Österreichische Systematik der Wissenschaftszweige (ÖFOS)