Empower Network to sue YouTube video flaggers?
In what was a completely random discovery during my daily MLM industry news and research trawl, a few days ago I stumbled across information indicating that Google might have begun cracking down on Empower Network videos uploaded to YouTube.
Following the banning of one Empower Network affiliate’s YouTube account, a thread on the Google product forums with the ensuing discussion strongly hinting at YouTube specifically targeting Empower Network.
Over the last few days I’ve been looking into the matter more and after further research, turns out this one Empower Network affiliate getting banned from YouTube was just the tip of the iceberg.
I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly when it started to happen, but as far as I can tell YouTube began removing videos about Empower Network or those that featured links to Empower Network blogs in the video description sometime between mid to late January.
The earliest example I found of an Empower Network affiliate discussing the topic was on the Empower Network blog itself, dated January 24th –
Is there someone maliciously flagging Empower Network videos on YouTube?
Hey everyone, just want to drop a quick post to see if anyone else out there is having problems with YouTube and any Empower Network videos?
I have noticed people saying more and more lately that their Empower Network videos are being flagged and removed in YouTube and since I have (just) joined, 2 of my 3 are already under attack and I am currently going through an appeal on them.
***Update: by the end of the day, they had denied my appeal, citing spam? These were legitimate posts from my actual blog, NOT SPAM You Tube (geez!)***
Funny thing is that the third video is fine. The only difference with that one is that in the description, instead of having a link directly to an EN blog post, it goes to a capture page. So, I am thinking that they may have our EN blogs flagged perhaps.
The two comments left on the article are both from Empower Network affiliates who have had their YouTube accounts banned:
And they’re not the only ones, Facebook is full of Empower Network affiliates complaining about YouTube banning their accounts:
There were a whole lot more with the above only representing a small sample size of comments found on Facebook.
The Google product forums aren’t much better, featuring a recent spate of threads started by banned Empower Network affiliates:
In response to YouTube terminating Empower Network affiliate’s accounts, CEO and co-founder David Wood took to Facebook to issue the following ‘big scary warning” on January 28th:
There is an organized group going around flagging Empower Network reps YouTube videos (videos that aren’t even remotely breaking Youtube terms).
I have no idea who you are, but I’m guessing you’re on my Facebook wall. Be warned:
BIG, SCARY WARNING:
I’m in the process of having lawyers research into whether or not we can sue the shit out of you. I don’t like lawsuits, but what you’re doing hurts the little guy, and is about the most unethical thing that you can possibly do.
There are part time moms and dads, families, who put thousands of hours of effort into their videos – and what you’re are doing is bull shit, and you know it, and you need to realize how much it hurts – not me, but the thousands of people who are just trying to make it happen.
There is nothing wrong with these videos you’re flagging, and you know it.
If I can, and I have the money, I’ll get a court to subpoena your contact information from YouTube, and will sue you for damages against ALL of the affiliates that you are targeting.
I could give a crap about me – but you are messing with my family. Back the fuck down.
Pass the word on. It’s time that this stops. After I sue you, and find out who you are, you will go into a hall of shame, for being the most unethical, garbage marketer ever.
If you want to come out and make a public apology, now is your chance, and your last chance.
That being said – I love you guys in Empower Network. I have your back.
To Empower Network: I’ve never asked ANY of you to do anything unethical to market. We’ve left names out of attacks, to let people save face. We allow you to market whatever you want. We let you say whatever you want. You are awesome, and I love you.
You guys are the most badass, ethical group of marketers online, and you deserve the best.
WE will continue to set the ethical standard. We don’t need to flag other companies channels, because we have a dream.
We love on people – and that’s ALL that we do – because in one moment, anyone can turn their life around.
Love you guys, and I do apologize for the warning in the midst of the most gangster growth ever – we need to unify to keep the standard high.
And when the “big scary warning” didn’t work, on January 31st Wood escalated things with mention of a YouTube lawsuit:
Update on lawsuit against people unethically flagging Empower Network customer YouTube accounts:
Currently Empower Network Corp does meet standing (law) to sue. And we can support our Affiliates to file suit for their losses directly.
Like I said, this is not for me, it’s for the part time people out there, who are putting their hard work, energy, and passion, and because of some dumb group, have lost hundreds, or thousands of hours of work.
We’ve set up a special inbox to focus collecting information that specifically relates to unethical, abusive, targeted flagging. Please email all correspondence here:
Email to send grievances to: (Ozedit: email removed)
* Please don’t post this information in the comments, send ALL information directly to that address, and be as DETAILED as you possibly can.
Here’s what we need and want:
Your channel, video addresses if you have them, when it was shut down, when it was flagged, any information you have on people flagging your account, and the content of your videos.
Please also send full copies of the videos if you have them – the ones that were flagged.
I’m particularly interested in cases where your videos really weren’t even marketing. Telling stories, cancer research, other subjects, personal development, really good, high quality videos, with valuable content.
A couple of things:
1. Detail on the videos, what they were about, dates, names, links, blog posts, anything else you have available.
2. Copies of the actual videos, sent via a file transfer service, yousendit.com works for this.
3. Specific, measurable damage that this caused you, if you have it. Time you put in, how it impacted your business, time you had to waste re posting videos, outsourcing you paid for, SEO you paid for, why you feel that the flagging was un-just, how much estimated financial damage in total it costed you.
Let’s not focus on this guys – just get us the information, let the people who are on the case focus on putting it together.
Stay focused on your vision, and we’ll be there to make sure we protect you from people that are specifically trying to harm you, your image, and your voice.
Love you guys. Nobody messes with my family.
If you know someone who has been directly affected by this, please get them this post, and that email address. Let’s focus on the future.
Again, please email the comments, no need to post them below, the information will be lost, and let’s focus on the vision.
Wood does not mention who legally represents Empower Network or which jurisdiction they are located in.
First and foremost, despite Wood’s claims that the banning of Empower Network affiliate’s account doesn’t “hurt” him, with the company’s compensation structure requiring all affiliates to pass up commissions to their uplines and David Wood sitting at the top, it most certainly does.
Not directly but with YouTube limiting Empower Network affiliate’s ability to promote the income opportunity on the site, indirectly that means less marketing which means less people passing up money to Wood.
Then of course there’s the issue of David Wood’s legal threats and YouTube’s flagging process.
Here’s how YouTube describe the process:
What is Flagging?
Users report content that may violate YouTube’s rules by flagging it. YouTube’s rules are outlined in our Community Guidelines. YouTube staff review flagged videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
When a video is reviewed and determined to violate our Community Guidelines we remove it.
Despite Wood’s inference that members of the public flagging Empower Network affiliate’s YouTube videos are sueable for damages, quite obviously it is YouTube themselves who are reviewing the accounts independently before terminating them.
The buck stops with YouTube and if Empower Network did want to take the matter to court, subpoenas or otherwise ultimately it would be Google they would face.
Nevermind the absurdity of the claim that flagging a video on YouTube is a legally actionable offense.
Looking at the bigger picture here, it is interesting to observe that, in terminating YouTube accounts that upload videos unrelated to Empower Network but have EN blog links in the description, universally it appears YouTube have determined the company to be a scam (Empower Network affiliate accounts are banned due to YouTube’s ‘policy against spam, scams, and commercially deceptive content’).
Owned by the same company, how long before Google’s search division takes direct action against the Empower Network domain showing up in Google search results?
Or have they already?
Despite having a current Alexa ranking of 512 globally, Alexa report that just 5.3% of the domains traffic (including affiliate hosted blogs) arrives via search engines.
One can safely assume the other 94.7% of visitors to Empower Network are the company’s own affiliates, or those non-affiliates who have been exposed to marketing of the attached MLM income opportunity.
An insignificant percentage of that traffic might be non-promotional hosted blogs, but with no retail customers (members not able to participate in the compensation plan) by and large content published on the Empower Network domain (even if it has nothing to do with the company) is written to funnel people into joining the company as an affiliate.
As of January 31st I haven’t seen any updates regarding possible legal action from Empower Network against Google or YouTube. Meanwhile Empower Network affiliates continue to have their accounts banned for promoting the scheme via YouTube.
At the time of publication of this article, there are 18,700 results on YouTube for the search term “empower network”.
Will Wood follow through on his “big scary warning” and take YouTube to court or is he just blowing hot air from his offshore Costa Rica fortress, hoping that his legal threats will be enough to scare off those flagging Empower Network affiliate’s YouTube videos?