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YouTube creators call for changes to notifications

Tim Maytom

Video creators with combined subscriber counts in the millions on YouTube have spoken out in frustration at the platform's changing features and the way that algorithms have altered their interactions with their fans.

The creators, who had gathered at Viacom Inc's annual VidCon event, expressed their frustration with the fact that the platform notifies only a portion of their followers about new posts, resulting in declines in both viewership and the revenues they earn.

"It's unacceptable," said King Russell, who goes by Kingsley on YouTube. "It's tacky, rude and needs to change."

Russell has nearly 3m subscribers on YouTube, but over the past few years, has seen average view counts for videos drop from over 1m to around 100,000.

YouTube executives who were present at the event addressed the criticisms, saying that they didn't want viewers to be overwhelmed by too many alerts, and that users often subscribed to dozens of channels, and rarely unsubscribed.

In order to manage which new videos prompt notifications, YouTube uses algorithms based on viewing patterns. Users can also click on a bell icon on creators' profiles in order to get more alerts, but YouTube has not said what percentage of subscribers take this additional step on average.

This is not the first time YouTube has faced criticism from high-profile creators at VidCon. Last year, many creators complained that YouTube's changing policies toward ad revenue, triggered by the brand safety crisis, were hurting their ability to produce content regularly.

With an increasing number of YouTube creators becoming vocally dissatisified with the platform, other video-based services including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are attempting to encourage creators to jump ship. Instagram recently announced it was introducing long-form video to its platform, while Facebook has launched an advertiser matchmaking system for video creators, along with the option for subscribers to pay for additional content.