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FTC Investigating YouTube Over Child Privacy Concerns

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  • The Federal Trade Commission is reportedly in late stages of a probe into YouTube for allegedly violating children’s privacy and improperly collecting their data, following multiple complaints from privacy advocates.
  • The Washington Post, who first reported the news, says the investigation could result in fines and has already pushed YouTube to speed up discussions about how it handles child content and users.
  • The news follows reports that suggest YouTube is considering moving all children’s content over to the YouTube Kids app, which critics and YouTube insiders have since suggested is unlikely.

FTC Investigation

YouTube’s ongoing issues with child content has sparked an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, according to a report by the Washington Post.

On Wednesday the Post reported that the FTC was in the advanced stages of an investigation into YouTube for allegedly violating children’s privacy. The news outlet cites four anonymous sources familiar with the investigation and says that the probe could potentially result in a fine.

The investigation was reportedly launched after several complaints from privacy advocates and consumer groups. Those complaints said that the Google-owned company failed to protect kids who use the service and improperly collected their data, which is a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The 1996 law known as COPPA bars companies from tracking and targetting users under 13.

The probe also follows numerous reports from users and publications that say YouTube’s recommendation feature has allowed predators to abuse the system to prey on children.

The Post says the FTC investigation has pushed YouTube to accelerate internal discussions and changes in regards to how the platform handles child content.

The platform has already recently disabled comments on videos featuring minors and banned minors from live-streaming video without an adult present in the video. It has also limited its algorithms from recommending content that features minors in a sexualized or violent situation, even if that content does not violate the company’s policies.

Moving Content to YouTube Kids

Earlier this week, reports from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal suggested that the company is looking at taking stronger measures to address its issues.

On Wednesday the Journal reported that YouTube was considering moving all children’s content over to its standalone YouTube Kids app. However, such a change would be hard to implement because of the overwhelming amount of content uploaded to YouTube and because it would potentially cost the company a huge loss in advertising revenue.

On top of that, Bloomberg’s report cited internal sources at YouTube who said that kids “tend to shift over to YouTube’s main site before they hit 13.” Bloomberg also pointed out that the Kids app only gets a small fraction of the audience the main platform brings in, which is sure to affect the content creators who would be forced to shift over.

Content featuring children is a huge part of YouTube that isn’t just toy unboxings, nursery rhyme videos, and skits. Family vloggers on the platform are becoming more and more massive and as the Verge pointed out, some creators often release collaborations with children. Jake Paul for instance often releases videos featuring five-year-old Tydus Talbott, who is also known online as “Mini Jake Paul.”

The Kids app has also faced a ton of backlash in the past for moderation issues in a controversy often known as “Eslagate.” At the time, YouTube was criticized for allowing content on the Kids app that included sexual situations or language, discussions of suicide, and dangerous behaviors in cartoons and skits created for children.

A person close to YouTube suggested moving all content featuring children to the Kids app is unlikely, but said other changes were being discussed.

“We consider lots of ideas for improving YouTube, and some remain just that — ideas. Others, we develop and launch, like our restrictions to minors live streaming or updated hate speech policy,” Andrea Faville, a YouTube spokeswoman, said in a statement to various outlets.

Policymakers Call for More Action

However, many are still unsatisfied with how the platform is dealing with these issues. Some policymakers have already begun responding to news of the investigation. In a press release issued Wednesday, Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) said the investigation “into YouTube’s treatment of children online overdue.”

“It is no secret that kids flock to YouTube every day, but the company has yet to take the necessary steps to protect its youngest users. I am pleased to see reports that the FTC is working to hold YouTube accountable for its actions.”

One of the biggest requests that YouTube has received from critics and policymakers is to stop recommending videos that contain children altogether. However, YouTube has hit back against that idea.

Earlier this month a spokesperson told the New York Times that a move like that would hurt creators. Instead, the company chose to limit “recommendations on videos that it deems as putting children at risk,” the Times reported.

It’s unclear as of now what types of penalties YouTube could face if the FTC finds issues with its current data collection practices. However, the FTC has placed a bigger focus on child privacy in recent years. This past February, the agency fined the app TikTok, formerly known as Music.ly, a record $5.7 million for violating child privacy laws. In that case, the FTC found that the app had allowed children under 13 to use the site with little enforcement of its age minimum requirement.


See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Wall Street Journal) (Bloomberg)





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Mr Beast Defends Charli and Dixie D’Amelio Following Tournament Win Backlash

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  • Mr Beast held a trivia tournament Saturday where creators competed against each other for $300,000 to give to their fans.
  • Charli and Dixie D’Amelio won the competition, however, many accused them of having an unfair advantage because they were allowed to compete as a team and had their parent’s beside them as well.
  • Some online even suggested that the family may have been cheating through the use of phones or people off-camera.
  • Mr Beast said fans should be mad at him, not the family, since it was his decision to allow multiple people on a team. Still, he noted that the tournament was just for fun and promised to make teams equal in future competitions.

Mr Beast Hosts Creator Tournament

Internet users lashed out at TikTok stars Charli and Dixie D’Amelio on Saturday, accusing them of cheating in YouTuber Mr Beast’s trivia competition.

Mr Beast, whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson, held his latest influencer tournament that same day, following the success of his Rock Paper Scissors charity steam earlier this year. During the trivia event, 24 creators competed against one another for $300,000 to give to their fans.

Contestants included the likes of Addison Rae, Bretman Rock, KSI, Safiya Nygaard, Jaiden Animations, and tons of others, with the D’Amelio sisters ultimately being declared the winners.

However, many were unhappy with that, saying they cheated and had an unfair advantage. This is because the sisters were allowed to compete as a team and also brought their parents along with them.

It is worth noting that only Dixie competed in the final round of trivia against comic book artist and YouTuber ZHC. Still, many felt like the 4 on 1 match-ups weren’t fair and even suggested that the family was cheating through the use of phones or people off-screen.

Mr Beast Defends D’Amelio Family

Mr Beast eventually had to try and diffuse the situation after seeing the family faced a slew of backlash online.

“I see some people mad that I let multiple people compete on a single team in the trivia tournament!” he wrote. “Honestly, the tournament was just for fun and to bring the community together and I’d appreciate if you were to get mad at anyone, get mad at me. It was my decision lol”

“The criticism is noted and I’ll definitely keep all the teams the same size next time! 100% my b Red heart,” he continued.

Fellow YouTubers expressed a similar sentiment about the competition being all for fun, with the money ultimately going to fans in need.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Insider) (HITC)

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Tana Mongeau’s “Booty for Biden” Promotion Sparks Legal Concerns

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  • YouTube star Tana Mongeau has come under fire for offering nude photos to fans who proved they voted for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
  • Some said it could be considered vote buying, which is a felony. Others said it encourages fans to take ballot selfies as proof, which are illegal in several states.
  • Mongeau eventually added, “by proof I just meant tell me,” before ultimately deleting the post and writing, “in all seriousness if you can vote please do.”
  • She did, however, claim that she received “tens of thousands of messages” from people telling her they voted for Biden.

Tana Launches #BootyForBiden Campaign

YouTuber Tana Mongeau promised to send nudes to Joe Biden supporters on Wednesday as part of her “Booty for Biden” campaign, which has now raised legal concerns.

Mongeau advertised the strategy in a Tweet, writing: “if you send me proof u voted for Biden I’ll send you a nude for free.” 

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@Tanamongeau

That post, of course, was accompanied by a link to her OnlyFans page and the hashtag #bootyforbiden. However, the problem is that people said she was breaking the law and asking her fans to do the same.

Some say what she did could be considered vote buying, which is a felony punishable by a fine and up to two years behind bars. Because she was asking fans for proof of their vote, others said she was also encouraging ballot selfies, which are illegal in several states. 

2016 map that shows where voter selfies are illegal. Source: Vox

Tana Deletes Post

Mongeau eventually clarified what she meant by proof, saying, “I just meant tell me.”

@Tanamongeau

She then ended up deleting her initial offer altogether, following up with, “in all seriousness if you can vote please do… not voting is voting and the world is scary.”

It’s unclear what the response to her post was like on her end, but she did later claim that her campaign “broke Tana Uncensored,” in an Instagram post that featured a NSFW photo of her with the Democratic candidates face photoshopped over hers.

“Tana Uncensored messages are broken, and the point has been made: I got tens of thousands of messages of people telling me that they willingly voted for Joe Biden,” Mongeau added in an Instagram Story.

“It’s the best thing ever. You don’t need my ass to make you go vote. So go vote because you wanna see a change in this country just like me, and thank you to everyone who joined me today. Booty for Biden.”

For now, it seems like the YouTuber is trying to join the list of stars encouraging their fans to vote, but the way she’s been doing it might be a problem.

Tana Loses YouTube Verification

Reports surfaced this weekend pointing out that Mongeau has just lost her YouTube verification check. As of now, there’s no confirmed reason, evidence, or explanation for this, but some internet users and media outlets are suggesting it could have to do with the controversy.

Neither Mongeau nor the platform has commented on the verification change so it’s tough to say if they are connected.

Meanwhile, fans online are offering up other explanations, saying it could be because she changed her name back from Tana Paul to Tana Mongeau. 

See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Cosmopolitan) (Daily Dot)

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How Snapchat, Kylie Jenner, and David Dobrik Are Helping Boost U.S. Voter Registrations

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  • Snapchat has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through an in-app feature.
  • According to the company, about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters, and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24.
  • On top of that, Snapchat also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states, including Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.
  • Massive stars like Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik also caught attention this week for encouraging voter registration.
  • Jenner did so with bikini photos that directed fans to vote.org, meanwhile, Dobrik did so by launching a Tesla giveaway that requires participants to check their voter registration status.

Snapchat Helps Register Over 1 Million Voters

Snapchat said Thursday that is has helped more than 1 million people register to vote through its in-app tool. The move aligns with several recent pushes encouraging voter registration from both companies and notable public figures.

More than half of the 1 million who registered through the social media platform did so in less than a month, the company added.

While the numbers are less than the 2.5 million who have signed up through Facebook, they’re still incredibly important and impressive.

Experts also find them particularly interesting because Snapchat reaches much younger audiences, which could play a huge role in affecting the outcomes in certain areas.

Snapchat said about 56% of people who registered to vote through the app this year are first-time voters and about 65% are voters ages 18 to 24, a Snapchat spokesperson estimated.

On top of that, the company also had large amounts of users registering in historically red or battleground states. 

The company says it saw more signups to register in Texas than in any other state, with some of the largest additions coming from Texas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Aside from the in-app registration tool, Snapchat had already been working to helping inform its users about voting with public service announcements from lawmakers in both parties, as well as celebrities and influencers.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Snapchat says it will continue sending reminders to users about early voting deadlines in their states and will ensure that information and news in the app is accurate. 

Kylie Jenner and David Dobrik Boost Voter Registration

However, it’s not just social media platforms working to boost voter registration ahead of the election. A ton of big-name celebrities and influencers have been their platforms to do the same.

One unique approach came from none other than Kylie Jenner. She took to Instagram on Monday to post some bikini pics for her 196 million followers, captioning the post: “but are you registered to vote? click the link in my bio.. let’s make a plan to vote together.”

That link directs users to Vote.org, where users can check their voter registration status. According to a TMZ report Wednesday, the thirst trap resulted in “nearly 50,000 potential new registered voters.”

The article went on to say that Vote.org saw a 1500% boost from traffic driven via Instagram, and got over an 80% increase in total users of its voter registration and verification tool from the prior day.
TMZ says all translates to more than 48,000 users going to the site through Kylie’s post.

Those numbers, of course, are likely still rising.

Another massive star encouraging voter registration this week was YouTube’s own David Dobrik.

He’s partnered with HeadCount, a nonpartisan nonprofit that promotes voter registration, and together they’re giving away five brand new Tesla Model 3s. 

In order to win, participants must check to see that they are registered to vote on the HeadCount website. 

Voter registration is not necessary, but participants will have the opportunity to register if they haven’t yet. The contest started midday Tuesday, and by Wednesday morning, HeadCount has said the campaign has been a record-shattering success.

It generated 10,000 new voter registrations within the first hour of launch and allowed 23,000 people to verify that they had already registered within that same time frame. 

On Wednesday morning, HeadCount also said the numbers for registrations and verifications had reached 82,000 and 212,000, respectively, which makes this the organization’s largest campaign to date. 

By Thursday, the numbers hit 100,000 new registrations and 250,000 verifications, with the HeadCount saying on Instagram, “This is unprecedented in the entire history of celebrity-led voter engagement campaigns.

It’s extra inspiring to know that David is a “Dreamer” (DACA recipient) who can’t vote in the U.S, but has used his platform to help others make their voice heard. A true act of patriotism if there ever was one.

Of course, that number too is expected to get even higher in the coming days. The contest closes at 11:59 p.m ET on Sunday, October 4th. The winners will be randomly selected and announced Monday.

Like in Snapchat’s case, this campaign will no doubt have an impact on younger audiences because Dobrik’s fanbase consists of Gen Z and Millenials. HeadCount says those groups make up 37% of all eligible voters, though they are drastically under-registered.

See what others are saying: (NBC News) (TMZ) (Tubefilter)

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