After a report last week revealed that YouTubers were promoting a company that helps students cheat, YouTube has deleted hundreds of videos that violate the site’s policy.
On Tuesday, the BBC reported that more than 250 channels were promoting a service called Edubirdie, which sells essays to students so that they don’t have to write them. An English official said, “It’s clearly wrong because it is enabling and normalizing cheating potentially on an industrial scale,” and she called on YouTube to act.
Now, the streaming service has moved on the violation, according to the Verge. The ads for EduBirdie are considered “academic aids,” and YouTube policy states that “academic aids” are restricted and defined as “‘test-taking’ services, in which someone takes an exam for someone else, and academic paper-writing services, providing customized/prewritten theses, dissertations, etc.”
EduBirdie, based out of Ukraine, bills itself as “the professional essay writing service for students who can’t even.” Prices start at $18 a page. According to the BBC, some YouTubers advertised that EduBirdie had a “super smart nerd” who would write your essays for you, and the advertisements appeared on channels specializing in pranks, gaming, music, and fashion—including that of Adam Saleh, who created a stir in 2016 by claiming that Delta kicked him off a flight for speaking Arabic during a phone call.
The BBC reported that Saleh has since removed EduBirdie advertising from his channel; when the BBC approached the parents of YouTubers who are 12 and 15 years old to ask about the EduBirdie ads on those respective channels, both YouTubers ended up taking down the ads.
Boosta, EduBirdie’s parent company, said in a statement to the BBC that “we cannot be held responsible for what social influencers say on their channels. We give influencers total freedom on how they prefer to present the EduBirdie platform to their audience in a way they feel would be most relevant to their viewers. We do admit that many tend to copy and paste each others’ shout-outs with a focus on ‘get someone to do your homework for you,’ but this is their creative choice.”
Said a YouTube spokesperson to the BBC: “YouTube creators may include paid endorsements as part of their content only if the product or service they are endorsing complies with our advertising policies. We do not allow ads for essay writing and so paid promotions of these services will be removed when we discover them. … We will be working with creators going forward so they better understand that in video promotions must not promote dishonest activity.”
YouTuber AldosWorld TV, who has 1.7 million subscribers, said on Twitter that more than 30 of his videos had been removed. He wrote, “I don’t understand how @YTCreators would let everyone promote edubirdie & now suddenly its annapropriate? You need to communicate more, wouldnt have promoted them in the first place if it wasnt ok but now I have 30+ videos gone. Like what?! They could have at least gave me a chance to download the video so I can reupload it without the edubirdie link.”
The BBC reported that more than 1,400 videos with a total of more than 700 million views featured an EduBirdie advertisement.