YouTube deleted at least three nootropics channels over past days, leaving members of the community confused and worried that a bigger crackdown is forthcoming.

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Steve Cronin was a typical nootropics YouTuber. He experimented on himself using numerous substances, many of which can be bought without a prescription in Whole Foods or GNC.

Nootropics normally refer to a vast selection of substances such as prescription medications such as Ritalin and over-the-counter nutritional supplements such as aniracetam, which may be purchased on the internet. A number of them are not governed by the Food and Drug Administration, so they aren’t tested for efficacy or safety. There are anecdotal reports of addiction and harm, in addition to uncomfortable side effects like nausea. But the majority of the materials are legal, and their usage is increasingly mainstream. Nootropics firms like HVMN, previously Nootrobox, and Bulletproof have raised millions from Silicon Valley investors.

Cronin’s YouTube channel was around approximately 22,000 subscribers when he received a note from YouTube about one of his videos,”Relax and Improve Your Sleep with Natural Calm Magnesium.” The note said the video was removed for violating YouTube’s community guidelines, but did not specify further.

The video was a review to the item, which he purchased at Whole Foods, Cronin stated in an email. “Nothing illegal, no medical advice offered, I’ve always been incredibly careful about this,” he explained.

YouTube removed the video and issued a strike. Strikes expire after three months, but if a YouTuber gets three at a time, their channel gets deleted. Cronin set 101 of his videos–roughly a fourth of his oeuvre–to private, hoping that could deter YouTube from issuing more strikes. He appealed the strike against the magnesium video and got it reversed. However, he obtained two strikes, against a video titled”My Current Daily Nootropics Stack” and one called”Increase Your Energy with Adrafinil | Star Nootropics,” even though the latter was set to private. To prevent his third simultaneous strike, he deleted 236 videos that showed products or mentioned nootropics–but YouTube still suspended his uploading rights on Sunday. Late Sunday night, YouTube issued a second strike for “Increase Your Concentration & Memory with Oxiracetam by Star Nootropics” and deleted his channel.

YouTube also eliminated Ryan Michael Ballow’s channel Cortex Labs Nootropics, which had over 7,000 subscribers. Ballow sent Motherboard screenshots of the mails from YouTube demonstrating he received the initial notice of a strike on a video at precisely the exact same time as his channel was terminated. In addition, he continued to get at least a dozen apparently redundant notifications of termination or suspension from YouTube throughout the weekend. “The strikes are a mix between Modafinil (prescription compound) videos (of which there are very few), and utterly innocuous videos about cholinergic Nootropics (Nootropics that affect the neurotransmitter acetylcholine),” he explained in an email.

Jonathan Roseland’s channel Limitless Mindset, that had over 600 videos and 13,000 subscribers, was also removed.

The nootropics YouTubers do not understand why YouTube penalized . YouTube’s community guidelines prohibit harmful or dangerous content, such as “hard drug use,” which appears to be the most probable motive. Ballow believes it is either “pharmaceutical industry influence” or some other elements within YouTube’s leadership made a decision to target nootropics specifically. “It’s all extremely fishy, and demonstrates a continued censorship trend with YouTube,” he explained in an email.

Roseland suspected his channel got flagged because he made videos about kratom, an opioid-like material that’s been associated with deaths and is coming under increased government regulation. Other kratom videos have apparently been removed. However, Ballow said he has never posted a video on kratom, and a search for”kratom” on YouTube brings up countless results, including reviews. In the same way, looking for nootropics, magnesium, aniracetam, oxiracetam, and Modafinil revealed no lack of videos, including reviews.

It is difficult to understand the channels were eliminated since YouTube failed to clarify specifics with the creators and didn’t react to a request for comment. YouTube enables creators to appeal enforcement decisions, but Ballow’s appeal has been rejected.

The rejection notice didn’t clearly say which guidelines were violated, but it pointed out to a different possible violation. YouTube “included a paragraph that states that if the sole purpose of your YouTube videos is to drive people off of the platform, said videos break the rules,” Ballow said. He interpreted this to mean the simple fact that his videos led viewers to other sites to buy products. “We do promote product during videos, but so does hundreds of thousands of other people, and the content is disproportionately educational/scientific nootropics content…. Cronin did not pitch as aggressively as we did, but yet, he’s still gone. And they’re merely making reasons up for it, and trying to make it fit the frame of breaking community policy/guidelines.”

YouTube has begun policing content more rigorously after a tide of bad press which included reports that advertisements were running against racist or offensive videos; revelations of all disturbing children’s content; and its promotion of conspiracy theory videos after the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

YouTube’s scale clearly makes it hard to track , an issue that the business tackles via a blend of machine learning-powered algorithms and human moderators. Errors are unavoidable, however, and YouTube has confessed it accidentally penalized videos from LGBTQ creators and conservatives.

Removals are devastating for creators who spend years creating a fanbase on YouTube– particularly when people like Alex Jones, that promotes an enormous swath of harmful conspiracy theories as well as nootropics-like supplements, are permitted to stay .

Source: Motherboard