Paranormal Videos On YouTube & The 'For Entertainment Purposes Only' Disclaimer

June 17, 2024 1:00 AM ‐ YouTubeParanormal
YouTube Paranormal
If you're a regular viewer of paranormal reality shows on British television, then you've probably noticed the preceding disclaimer, "for entertainment purposes only." As many paranormal teams follow in the footsteps of these shows and turn to YouTube to share footage of their own investigations, you may have wondered if these content creators need to include this disclaimer at the start of their videos.

YouTube has become a popular platform for sharing spooky adventures, unexplained phenomena, and eerie experiences due to its accessibility, allowing anyone to share their content. However, the Google-owned platform has changed over the years and is subject to some of the regulations imposed on traditional broadcasters.

Television shows are regulated by the UK's communications regulator, Ofcom, which often requires shows dealing with the paranormal to include the "for entertainment purposes only" disclaimer. However, YouTube operates under a different set of rules and is not directly regulated by Ofcom. Instead, it follows its own community guidelines, along with broader UK laws and advertising standards set by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ASA oversees all advertising content across media, including online platforms like YouTube. This means any promotional content, sponsorships, or advertisements within your videos must comply with the ASA's Code of Advertising Practice. The ASA's rules are designed to ensure advertisements are not misleading, harmful, or offensive and are clearly distinguishable from editorial content.

The ASA's guidelines could be particularly relevant if your videos include promotions for psychic services or events. The ASA has specific guidelines for advertising psychic services and related practices to prevent misleading claims and protect vulnerable audiences. These guidelines recommend transparency in promotional content to ensure viewers understand the nature of the services being advertised. However, the ASA's rules are not directly relevant to general ghost hunting content unless it involves advertising psychic services.

YouTube currently operates under its own community guidelines and policies, which are distinct from the regulations enforced by Ofcom for television content. These guidelines do not specifically state a requirement for disclaimers for paranormal content. However, they encourage creators to be honest and transparent with their audience. Including a disclaimer like "for entertainment purposes only" is not a requirement, but it can be a good practice.

Paranormal content often walks a fine line between reality and entertainment. A disclaimer helps set the right expectation, letting viewers know that the content is intended for entertainment rather than as conclusive evidence of paranormal activity.

Plus, protecting vulnerable viewers should be a consideration. While your content is meant to entertain, it may be viewed by people who are particularly vulnerable, such as those who are grieving or experiencing emotional distress. A disclaimer can help prevent these individuals from taking your content as factual advice or evidence.

It might also be good practice to include this disclaimer now, because it's not outside the realm of possibility that YouTube might update its guidelines to better align with Ofcom's standards, especially regarding content that could be deemed misleading. As digital content continues to grow, regulatory bodies might push for these stricter guidelines to protect viewers, leading YouTube to adopt more stringent measures.

Having consistent guidelines across different media formats - television and online platforms - would make it easier for content creators to understand and comply with regulations, ensuring a more uniform approach to content production and advertising, but it could also impact the amount of new content being shared on the platform.

YouTube thrives on a wide range of content, including niche and alternative subjects like paranormal investigations. Stricter guidelines might deter creators from producing certain types of content, potentially reducing the platform's diversity. YouTube provides a platform for creative expression, so imposing strict regulations might be seen as stifling creativity and limiting the types of stories and perspectives that can be shared.

Even though it's not currently required either legally or to comply with YouTube's guidelines, you may want to protect yourself by including a brief statement indicating that the content is for entertainment purposes. However, if you stand by the legitimacy of your paranormal investigation, craft a disclaimer that reflects this belief while still setting the right expectation.

For example, when we produced the award-winning 'My Ghost Hunting Movie' in 2023, we used the disclaimer, "All events depicted are real. Some audio has been enhanced for clarity." This kind of disclaimer informs the audience of your genuine perspective while also maintaining transparency.

As creators, it is your responsibility to ensure that your content is transparent and ethical. By adhering to best practices and understanding the regulatory landscape, you can create engaging, trustworthy content while enhancing your channel's reputation.
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