Corporate censorship online: Vagueness and discursive imprecision in YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines

Publication: Scientific journalJournal articlepeer-review


This article deals with YouTube’s advertiser-friendly content guidelines – the content rules dedicated to defining what YouTube deems advertiser (un)friendly and that YouTube creators seeking to monetise their content through advertising have to follow. Specifically, this study addresses the textual composition of YouTube’s regulations with a focus on occurrences of vagueness. Regarding methods of data analysis, I take a corpus-assisted discourse analytical approach to YouTube’s texts on advertiser-friendliness. That is, I take a wide-angle view on all concordance lines of ‘content’ and identify occurrences of different forms of vagueness. Findings suggest that at least 26% of the lines of ‘content’ detailing YouTube’s ad-friendly content guidelines exhibit at least one of eight forms of vagueness. Consequently, content creators – left unsure about the monetisability of particular content – may choose not to push any boundaries but to produce noncontroversial content, which, in turn, may impede content plurality on YouTube.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1756-1774
Number of pages18
JournalNew Media & Society (NMS)
Issue number4
Early online date2022
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 508007 Communication science
  • 605

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