VIDEO: Why YouTube bans aren’t working anymore

Banned extremists are sneaking back onto the platform by appearing as guests on mainstream YouTube channels — part of YouTube’s growing “ban evasion” problem

Since 2018, YouTube has banned or terminated the channels of some notable extremist figures from the platform for violating its rules against hate speech and harassment, including conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, white nationalist Nick Fuentes, and alleged human trafficker Andrew Tate.

But even though some of those banned actors have lost their channels, they continue to appear on the platform thanks to YouTube’s massive ecosystem of “interview channels” — podcasts, talk shows, and “debate” programs that invite on interesting or controversial guests to help them produce hours of cheap content.

YouTube supposedly prohibits terminated creators from circumventing their bans by appearing on other YouTube channels. But enforcing that policy would mean taking action against big-time, lucrative creators like Spotify host Joe Rogan, right-wing comedian Steven Crowder, or right-wing YouTuber Tim Pool.

Patrick Bet-David, a right-wing commentator and finance influencer who runs the PBD Podcast and Valuetainment YouTube channels, for example, has earned millions of views by hosting banned figures like Andrew Tate, and Alex Jones.

Former Daily Wire host Candace Owens' most popular YouTube video is an interview with Andrew Tate, which has earned nearly 7 million views, or more than twice as many views as her account has subscribers.

Hosting these banned actors can be a source of revenue for more mainstream channels too.

In October 2022, for instance, Adam22, whose real name is Adam Grandmaison, hosted white nationalist Nick Fuentes on his No Jumper Podcast. The Fuentes video earned over 800,000 views and is still monetized, with ads for companies like Disney appearing on it.

Pool’s top three most-watched livestreams featured banned users Alex Jones, Nick Fuentes, and far-right bigot Milo Yiannopoulos. These episodes generated thousands of dollars in revenue for Pool through YouTube’s Super Chat feature.

YouTube's refusal to consistently enforce its policies against banned actors has completely backfired. By terminating the accounts of some who violate its policies but then later allowing them to appear on the platform, YouTube has afforded some of its most controversial banned figures the unique opportunity to rebrand themselves as iconoclasts who bring in huge audiences — as well as ad dollars and donations — to the channels of mainstream creators.