Joel Hradecky, also known as Customgrow420, is a popular online video-maker and was the biggest weed-tuber on YouTube, which is currently the world’s leading video platform.
He’s also a legal cannabis patient living in Washington in the US.
Shockingly we found out on 18th April 2018 that Customgrow420’s YouTube account has been deleted from the platform. He had 1.5million subscribers and 193 million video views.
The source of this news came from other Weedtubers like Strain Central expressing their shock on Twitter:
YO CUSTOMGROW GOT DELETED ??? Fuuuuuuuuck
— Would Be Josh ? (@StrainCentral) April 18, 2018
CustomGrow420’s channel got terminated by YouTube
The end is near for weed videos on YouTube
— xCodeh (@xCodeh) April 18, 2018
This is fucking terrifying.. I don’t even know how to feel ? My job could literally just be deleted tomorrow https://t.co/JGaoN09D3m
— ? (@SilencedHippie) April 18, 2018
This is the latest and largest cannabis channel closure to date – but is by no means the first – by Youtube which has been removing cannabis content and creators more and more intensely in recent months.
“The total number of people who use YouTube – 1,300,000,000. 300 hours of video are uploaded toYouTube every minute! Almost 5 billion videos are watched on Youtube every single day. In an average month, 8 out of 10 18-49 year-olds watch YouTube.” Youtube 2018 data
In recent weeks we have seen the closure of several other established and popular cannabis channels run by legal MMJ patients such as Uptowngrowlab, Urban Remo and Cannabis Culture’s POT TV:
Yep. Three strikes in a matter of hours. 1000s of videos. Apparently championing patients and the wrongly incarceted means fuck all. The new normal.
— UptownGrowLab (@UptownGrowLab) April 12, 2018
It’s a purge plain and simple
— UptownGrowLab (@UptownGrowLab) April 15, 2018
Am I wrong to agree with people that @YouTube taking our channels down is comparable to book burning.We are in perilous times. 2300+ videos since 2010. 190,000 subscribers with no community violations until suddenly I have 19 and counting. One of the videos was about a parrot.
— REMO (@theurbanremo) April 15, 2018
#PotTV’s #YouTube account – that we’ve had for 8 years – has been shut down after 3 strikes for 5-year-old old hash videos. Thousands of videos about cannabis just erased with no real explanation! @theurbanremo & others have also been removed. Why @YouTube? #potpurge
— Cannabis Culture (@CannabisCulture) April 15, 2018
These terminations haven’t just affected the bigger channels in the US and Canada. DNA Genetics, Harmony and Pigeon420 have all had their channel’s deleted, and many more cannabis channels have seen strikes, removing their ability to stream and to upload videos to YouTube as per their community guidelines.
Dinafem got wiped too. Not just individual uploads, the lot.
— Cardiff CannabisCafe (@c_cannabiscafe) April 12, 2018
— REMO (@theurbanremo) April 19, 2018
What is going on?
This seemingly started with the YouTube Adpocalypse which began in April 2017, when advertisers began to pull their money from the platform to protest YouTube’s failure to remove some extremist/offensive content. However, this quickly spiralled into demonetizing most cannabis-related content, removing the ability of cannabis content creators to earn money from their videos.
You can actually see the fall in monthly views and monthly subs in the graph below, from data taken from Customgrow420, after the Adpocalypse hit and YouTube updated their algorithm in a way which negatively affected cannabis content on the platform.
If removing cannabis channel’s ability to earn revenue from Youtube plays wasn’t disincentive enough, channels who continued making cannabis content are now being forcibly shut down.
Cannabis media history is literally being removed from the internet, being lost as big canna-business sales skyrocket. When people want to study this period in the future – and they will – they might find a big gap in cannabis media as videos and channels are lost to history.
The whitewashing of history is the most devastating part of all this. https://t.co/ZLrJ1ZXIlQ
— REMO (@theurbanremo) April 16, 2018
Update: Even talking about the platform removing cannabis-related videos & creators seems to have led to community guidelines strikes and channel terminations, see below – Urban Remo’s son has had his channel deleted on the first strike:
— UrbanMichael (@TheUrbanMike) April 19, 2018
Severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content?! The video was of just me talking to the camera. @YTCreators @YouTube @TrustedFlagger @BYRDNews1 pic.twitter.com/GlD2MYdReb
— UrbanMichael (@TheUrbanMike) April 19, 2018
And YouTube doesn’t stop once your channel gets terminated, either…
— Pigeons420 (@Pigeons420) April 19, 2018
We’ve taken steps to ensure the ISMOKE channel will be safe in the event of a YouTube closure. We began preparations for this when our channel was been affected by YouTube’s strikes all the way back in November 2017, removing our ability to stream to our fans on the platform since that date.
Since then, we had our most popular video to date “You can now buy weed on Amazon” given a strike – which we successfully appealed earlier this year. This video had previously been manually reviewed at least once and at the time had 424,000 views and an age-restriction, suggesting that since reviewing the video previously something had changed within YouTube’s internal reviewing guidelines.
We have since had more strikes for videos that were strain specific concerning Jack Herer and Road Dawg – a final channel-deleting strike could come through at any moment.
Update: Less than 24 hours after writing this we got the fateful email from YouTube, informing us that our account has been terminated:
— ISMOKE (@ismokemedia) April 19, 2018
Alternatives to YouTube
We’re moving all our videos over to our Vimeo Page here. This will allow us to keep the integration with the ISMOKE website as quite a few of our posts feature videos. While Vimeo charge for their Pro Account, you get 20gb upload per week, can build playlists, channels and collections, and the UX on the site is very good, making it a good alternative hosting platform to YouTube.
Other options for cannabis content creators include Twitch for live streaming (we currenly stream on Instagram and Facebook), theweedtube, dtube and dailymotion.
Theweedtube.com was started by some vloggers in the US who were affected by channel strikes and wanted to build a new cannabis community. The site currently has lots of creators on board with content, but does not offer the robust video uploading capabilities at present compared to more established services.
It is clear whatever happens on YouTube that there is a huge market for this kind of content, with advertisers who would greatly benefit from brand association with cannabis creators across the world. Whoever solves this and develops the leading solution to fills this gap YouTube is creating will have a huge opportunity!
Where you can find us online
This website is our main information hub, so as long as you add us to your bookmarks or remember this URL www.ismokemedia.co.uk you can always keep up-to-date with ISMOKE. You can also sign up to our mailing list at the top of this page to get our newsletter delivered to your inbox each week with a list of our videos.
Follow ISMOKE on Social Media:
- ISMOKE’s Vimeo Page
- ISMOKE on Facebook
- Tyler Green on Facebook
- ISMOKE on Twitter
- Tyler Green on Twitter
- ISMOKE on Instagram
I’ve set up a new personal YouTube channel here – The Tyler Green channel.
Have you been affected by YouTube’s cannabis content removals? Let us know by tweeting @ismokemedia and we may add your comments to this article.