YouTube Deletes Videos Promoting Cheating

John Lister's picture

YouTube has removed hundred of videos which included promotions for essay-writing services. The company says it breaches its rules but the video presenters say they weren't given enough warning.

The case doesn't involve ads placed via YouTube itself that are shown to viewers before popular videos, or display ads shown on the site. Instead the 'ads' were part of the videos themselves.

700 Million Views For Promotions

A BBC investigation found that more than 250 people who produce popular YouTube videos had broken off in the middle of a clip to promote EduBirdie, a Ukraine-based service which offers to write essays for students. Whether such services are legal to provide varies in different jurisdictions but using them will almost always breach school and university rules.

The videos covered subjects as diverse as video games, dating and fashion and it's likely EduBirdie figured the promotions would be more effective if the people in the videos delivered the message themselves. The BBC says it found more than 1,400 videos containing the promotions, attracting a total of 700 million views. One of the video creators, Adam Saleh, has almost four million subscribers on YouTube. (Source:

Video Makers Say They Were Blindsided

After the BBC published the reports, YouTube contacted some of the producers to say they had breached the site's advertising rules, which ban ads for "academic aids." Anyone who accepts money in return for promoting a product or service in a video must tell YouTube and the promotion must comply with the same rules that apply to standalone ads. (Source:

YouTube has now taken down many of the videos, angering some of the producers. Several of them say they didn't get any warning before the deletion, while others says they had begun editing out the promotions but weren't given enough time to do so before the videos were removed completely.

What's Your Opinion?

Is YouTube right to ban ads for essay-writing services, even in places where they are technically legal? Is there any way to properly vet promotions that are made as part of a video rather than a standalone ad? Should YouTube stars who can reach millions of people be more responsible about the services they promote?

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Dennis Faas's picture

As an online publisher of this website, I can tell you first hand that I typically receive 3 to 5 solicitations PER WEEK from software companies or from fake "authors" asking to submit an article to my audience "for free". While I never, ever accept these "offers", the catch is that these poorly written essays (often from third world countries) also include bloated keywords and embedded links to third party websites.

Since has been around for a long time and we only link to reliable sources, we are considered an authoritative source when it comes to referring another website. Therefore, had we accepted these poorly written essays with embedded links to third party sites, those websites would now have more recognition in Google's eyes. In search engine optimization speak (SEO), this is referred to as "Google juice" and it works by promoting other websites in order to (artificially) increase their search engine rankings.

While the article above speaks about promoting services inside a Youtube video, it is different than what I just mentioned - yet, it's also very similar. The publishers of the Youtube ads are most definitely on the take, receiving most likely hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars just for mentioning other services. In this case, the promotion is for essay writing, but I can guarantee you this issue is highly widespread and won't stop any time soon unless Google makes it 100% illegal to promote a third party service in a Youtube video.