A slew of dealers got a wake-up call last week when YouTube temporarily shut down their accounts, replacing their online videos with a warning in legalese.
YouTube quickly corrected the snafu, but the incident delivered a stern lesson to dealers: YouTube is a free service that can be taken away at a moment's notice. Nothing is guaranteed -- not even a detailed explanation.
At least eight affected stores had posted hundreds of videos on the Google-owned site, having invested thousands of hours into creating them. Many stores used the videos to educate customers about various tech functions on their vehicles and topics such as warranty plans.
But they learned last week their efforts are at the mercy of a sometimes unpredictable digital world. Mistakes can happen.
Google began looking into the situation after an inquiry from Automotive News last Monday about why the accounts for St. Charles Toyota near Chicago and other dealerships had been terminated. The accounts were restored that night.
In this case, Google said content from the dealers was apparently flagged by YouTube users or identified by the site's spam team as unacceptable. The dealerships received notices that they had violated YouTube's Community Guidelines, "which prohibit spam, scams or commercially deceptive content."
The stores said they posted nothing of the sort.