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YouTube reverses course on controversial swearing and monetization policy

Colorful language is now (mostly) allowed.

YoGinta via Getty Images

The new profanity rules YouTube introduced late last year are being relaxed — with an update outlining a less restrictive policy that will allow the use of moderate and strong profanity to be used without risking demonetization. The original policy, first introduced in November, would flag any video that used rude language in the first several seconds as ineligible for advertising, with little delineation between "strong" or "moderate" swearing. The policy also seemed to apply retroactively, with many creators claiming that videos they published before the updated policy had lost their monetization status. Now, YouTube is reversing course with a tweaked set of rules that allows some swearing.

Now, creators who use colorful language in the first seven seconds of a video are still eligible for advertising, with some conditions. If the profanity is "moderate," the video won't face any restrictions — but strong profanity in those opening seconds could result in a video only receiving "limited ads." Under the original rules, the update notes, both of these scenarios would have caused a video to be completely demonetized. Creators will be able swear more frequently after the first seven seconds without fear of losing advertising revenue, though YouTube notes that excessive swearing will still put content at risk of being demonetized or limited.

The update also clarifies that strong language in background, outro or intro music should not affect monetization status.

The new language policy goes into effect starting on March 7th — and while it doesn't address every concern creators had about the November ruleset, it should make it easier for most YouTubers to continue to monetize their videos without significantly changing their content or style.