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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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Beauty YouTubers Call Black Lives Matter and “I Can’t Breathe” Makeup Looks “Disrespectful”

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  • Makeup artists have created looks using Black Lives Matter symbols and the phrase “I can’t breathe” in an effort to raise awareness about racism and police brutality.  
  • Beauty YouTubers like Alissa Ashley, NikkieTutorials, and PatrickStarrr have slammed the behavior, calling it “disrespectful” and encouraging people to donate or sign petitions instead. 
  • But some have defended these artists, arguing that they are voicing their frustrations through their work.
  • The looks have sparked a conversation about performance activism and how to be an ally to the black community. 

Black Lives Matter Makeup Looks 

As people all over the world protest over the killing of George Floyd, some makeup artists have tried to show their support by creating makeup looks inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. 

But several of these looks have been quickly slammed on social media, sparking conversations about how to be an ally to the black community.  

One of the most recent makeup looks that sparked outrage was created by a 16-year-old in Australia who posts content in German under the name “catharinas_beauty.”

In a TikTok post, the teen is seen painting half of her face darker to the tune of Donald Glover’s “This Is America.”

After the post was hit with massive backlash, the teen took it down. She also posted to her Instagram saying she was “really sorry” and “never wanted to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

And she added that she had never heard of blackface before posting the look. “I only wanted to send a message against racism, but I did it wrong. I’m only 16 and have to learn much more about the world history.” 

This teen is far from the only person who’s been slammed this type of makeup. Other artists have created looks using the Black Live Matter fist or phrase, and some have designed theirs around the words “I can’t breathe.” 

That particular phrase is widely recognized as the final words spoken by Floyd as a white officer pressed his knee into his neck. They were also the last words spoken by Eric Garner, who was choked to death by police in 2014. Since their deaths, the phrase has become rallying cry used to fighting against police brutality and racial injustice.

One artist that included the phrase in her look took it a step further. As she lip-syncs over the Gotye song “Somebody That I Use to Know,” she releases a hand from her neck to show a bloody print. 

These are just a few examples of the types of posts that have continued to pop up online, and in most cases, the artists end up apologizing or taking the posts down.

Beauty YouTubers Speak Out 

But these posts weren’t just criticized by the general public. Several popular beauty influencers took to social media to speak out against the trend. 

Alissa Ashley, for instance, said: “White/ Non-Black MUA’s, I promise painting “I can’t breathe” on your lips isn’t revolutionary like I really promise that isn’t what we mean when we say be an ally.”

NikkieTutorials addressed the looks by saying, “don’t be that person 🤦🏼‍♀️ it’s disrespectful and low, have some respect, sign petitions and DONATE!” 

That sentiment was also echoed by fellow YouTuber Patrickstarr who said, “I know a thing or two about makeup. But drawing ‘I can’t breathe’ on your face is NOT it.”

Some Defend Artists 

Still, some have tried to defend the artists, arguing that they were just trying to voice their frustrations through their art. 

One Twitter user actually responded to Alissa Ashley saying, “this is why the country is as divided as it is. Why cant we just understand that raising awareness to situations are never an easy subject some people only have one voice and its through their creative sides.”

Ashley hit back at that user writing, “Raising awareness isn’t using fake blood to appear beaten up. It’s not using a darker shade of foundation to show your solidarity. It’s not writing a dying mans last words on your lips. Black peoples trauma/reality isn’t a makeup trend. Like y’all can’t possibly be this dumb”

She then dismissed responses from people who say they aren’t sure what to do, saying “TWITTER IS FREE AS FUCK. You see us tweeting the petitions to sign. The places to donate. What kind of drug do you gotta be on to be like ‘oh I know what to do. Let me go grab my darker foundation & ben nye stage blood’”

Another makeup artist known as ZayBayBay argued that the makeup looks are actually triggering to black people. Someone then challenged her opinion by saying, “It can’t be any more triggering than seeing Donald Glover shoot up an entire black church choir in his music video. Makeup artists are allowed to creatively express themselves the same way. It raises awareness, which is the bottom line.”

Ultimately, she said that she is beyond her art and knowns “when it’s time to put the brush down and do something productive instead of focusing 5 hours on a makeup look.” But still, she said she respects others’ opinions on this matter. 

This debate isn’t just something being discussed in relation to makeup. Nail artists have faced similar backlash for their work, with the same arguments appearing both for and against it. 

View this post on Instagram

I have taken my nail art awareness inspiration post from the amazing black talented nail tech @queenofnails I saw the positive feedback she got in her comments by not just white but black people too. She inspired me to use my platform and talent to bring awareness through nail art for those who are in need. She had no comments from the black community saying that the post is insensitive. I’ve got a lot of positive feedback for using my art to support the movement (thank you 💕)but I’ve also been told by some that I AM THE MAIN PROBLEM. I’ve gained no profit from this just like @queenofnails didn’t. The nails are not for sale, they are not to be promoted, they are under no collaboration deal, just doing it purely to spread awareness. I’m now being called a prostitute and that I’m doing nails from a little corner at my mums house. Words said by those who I spread awareness for. @queenofnails didn’t get this treatment from the black community, why am I ? If I’ve offended anyone I am truly truly sorry, my intention was never to hurt you, I want to help protect you✊🏼✊🏾

A post shared by Dre’s Nails (@dre.s.nails) on

And especially after #BlackoutTuesday, a lot of people have been concerned about performance activism that does nothing meaningful for the black community. 

There are some people who point out that these makeup looks are coming from a good place. Others say that if done tastefully and in combination with other efforts, they can help keep people talking about racial injustice. But it seems like most people online are not on board with these types of looks and want to see action, not more awareness. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Dazed) (Centennial Beauty)

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Facebook Employees Hold Virtual Walkout Over Zuckerberg’s Stance on Trump Posts

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Source: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

  • Twitter put a warning message over a Tweet from President Donald Trump Thursday which it said “glorifies violence.”
  • In that tweet, Trump criticized the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd, warning that“when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
  • The move escalated tensions between Trump and Twitter. Last week the feud prompted Trump to issue an executive order aimed at restricting social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.
  • Employees at Facebook, which did not issue any sort of warning for the exact same post, are furious at CEO Mark Zuckerberg for allowing that post to remain.

Facebook Employees Angry

Twitter angered President Donald Trump last week after issuing warnings on several of his tweets, and now, Facebook employees are now targeting their CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for not doing the same.

Twitter’s issued a fact-check warning on Trump’s May 26 tweets, which falsely claimed that increased access to mail-in voting will lead to extensive voter fraud.

Then, Thursday night, the company followed up by hiding a different tweet from the president that it said “glorifies violence.”

Notably, these are the first instances where Twitter has corrected or censored Trump, something many have called on them to do for years. 

Facebook, however, has stuck to its policy to not censor the president’s speech, even if it could be interpreted as violence. 

“I’ve been struggling with how to respond to the President’s tweets and posts all day,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on Friday. “Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression,”  he added. 

“I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open.”

Zuckerberg’s post was yet another defense of his long-held stance regarding the platform’s responsibility to censor violent speech and misinformation from politicians. 

Still, Zuckerberg’s unwavering stance has resulted in a number of Facebook employees publicly disagreeing with their boss. 

“Inaction is not the answer,” employee Diego Mendes said on Sunday. “Facebook leadership is wrong.” 

@DiegoMendes

Other employees continued to take to Twitter to express their opposition to Zuckerberg’s philosophy, one saying, “I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up. The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voice heard.”

Monday, dozens of Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout in further protest of Zuckerberg’s “inaction.” Many also took to Twitter with #TakeAction.

During the virtual protest, The New York Times reported that two senior employees threatened to resign if Zuckerberg does not change course on Facebook’s policy.

“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community,” a Facebook spokesperson told CNBC in a statement Monday. “We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership. As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.”

Zuckerberg will meet with his staff Tuesday to discuss disputes over those posts, moving his weekly meeting up from Thursday in response to the walkout.

Twitter Flags Trump Tweet

Trump’s tweet Thursday was critical of the protests that became violence following the death of George Floyd.

In the first of two tweets, Trump says he can’t stand by and watch the situation in Minneapolis. He goes on to jab Mayor Jacob Frey for being a “weak radical left mayor.”

But that tweet was never flagged. It was actually Trump’s second tweet that Twitter targeted because, in it, Trump said, “…when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” Twitter wrote above the tweet, which is hidden and must be clicked into while on the site. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”

While Twitter did not delete the tweet, it has disabled all likes and replies on the post. Currently, the only way to directly share the tweet is to retweet it with a comment.

Early Friday morning, Twitter followed up with another statement, where it explained that the tweet violated “policies regarding the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

As many online have also noted, the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” carries with it a deeply dividing history. 

It’s first known use was in 1967 by Miami police chief Walter Headley to describe his department’s plans to crack down on protests in black neighborhoods. According to historians, that phrase was even considered to have contributed to the city’s race riots in the late 1960s.

White House Quotes Censored Trump Tweet

In opposition to Twitter’s decision, Friday morning, the White House Twitter account quoted Trump’s censored tweet. That tweet then got hit with the same warning.

The White House later posted another tweet defending the president, saying he didn’t glorify violence.

“He clearly condemned it,” the account said. “@Jack [Dorsey] and Twitter’s biased, bad-faith “fact-checkers” have made it clear: Twitter is a publisher, not a platform.”

In addition to the White House, Trump continued his battle against Twitter Friday morning in a series of tweets that accused the site of having an anti-conservative bias. 

“Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot,” Trump also said in defense of his original comment. “I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means.”

“It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!” 

Trump’s Executive Order

Prior to posting this original comment on Thursday, Trump signed an executive order aiming to restrict social media platforms’ ability to police their own content.

Following this, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey promised to continue issuing fact-checks and even warnings against Trump if he’s found in violation of Twitter’s policies.

On Friday, prompted by journalists, Google released a statement saying that undermining the statute that affords platforms their freedoms to moderate their content would “hurt America’s economy and its global leadership on internet freedom.” 

Still, both Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Representative Matt Gaetz have promised to introduce legislation that would roll back this statue. For his part, Trump has been very receptive of that idea.

However, there have been a number of reports that any restriction could face major hurdles with the Federal Communications Commission as well as in court over whether such a move would impinge on speech freedoms. 

See what others are saying: (Reuters) (Forbes) (CNBC)

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YouTuber Myka Stauffer Slammed for Placing Autistic 4-Year-Old With New Adoptive Family

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  • YouTuber Myka Stauffer and her husband James, who adopted an autistic boy from China in 2017, announced that they have decided to permanently place the toddler with a new adoptive family.
  • In their announcement video, the couple said medical professionals and the adoption agency felt it was best to find a better fit for the boy after several evaluations.  
  • However, many people are outraged by the decision, accusing the family of exploiting the child and his story for sponsorships and monetized videos, then giving up on him because of his special needs.

The Stauffer’s Announcement 

A YouTube couple has been flooded with criticism since announcing that they have permanently placed their autistic 4-year-old in another home, after adopting him from china years ago. 

Myka Stauffer runs a YouTube channel with over 700,000 subscribers where she posts videos about home organization, her experience as a mother, and more. She also posts vlogs on a separate family channel that has over 300,000 subscribers.

For years Myka and her husband James have shared intimate details about their lives as parents, from pregnancies to births and beyond. One of the most emotional experiences they’ve shared has been their international adoption journey. But the couple shocked fans Tuesday when they confirmed that their 4-year-old son Huxley had been placed with a new adoptive family. 

The Stauffer’s adopted Huxley from China in October 2017, and the video of him being brought home is actually the most viewed video on Myka’s channel, with over 5.5 million views.   

But in their tearful video update, James said that Huxley has been in numerous therapy treatments over the last few years to help with his severe special needs. Myka has previously said he has reactive attachment disorder and level 3 autism, though the adoption agency initially told her he had brain damage and a brain tumor.

According to James, over the last year specifically, Huxley’s therapy sessions have been more intense. 

“After multiple assessments, after multiple evaluations, multiple medical professionals had felt that he needed a different fit and that his medical needs…he needed more,” Myka explained.

Fans have been asking about Huxley for months, as he hasn’t appeared on any of their social media posts. Some have even made Instagram accounts dedicated to finding answers about his whereabouts. 

So as far as why they have waited to announce the news, James said, “It’s because we’ve been trying to protect his privacy, his rights, and also just try to not mess up his future that was laid out in front of us. We’re trying to just make sure we don’t impact that at all when making this video.”

Myka also explained that she tried to share as little as she could about Huxley’s situation because of this. “Anything that happened in the home that was hard for Hux, that’s not fair for me to put there publicly. That’s his privacy. So we’re not going to talk about that. It’s not appropriate and it’ll never be appropriate. I didn’t adopt a little boy to share these things publicly.”

She also said that they’ve waited to talk about this because medical professionals have been allowing Huxley to spend time with different people to help him find his “new forever family.” Based on the updates they’ve received, it appears that Huxley is now in a home that the adoption agency feels is the best fit, with a parent who has medical professional training. 

Still, the couple said they’re grieving and tried to help him as much as possible because they never wanted to be in this position. “Do I feel like a failure as a mom? Like 500 percent,” Myka said.

“So when I get like insidious, hurtful comments, it just really makes it hurt worse. It’s not about me at all, but it’s just like this journey, the last couple months, has been like the hardest thing I could’ve ever imagine going to – choosing to do.”

The couple closed by asking their followers to respect their privacy and understand that they are hurting, even if they are seen on social media in positive spirits. 

Backlash

So after this news was announced, many people took to the comments section and social media sites to expressed sadness for Huxley. However, plenty of people also slammed the couple for their decision.

“I’m sorry but you did fail as a mum. You wouldn’t have given up your own child,” one commenter wrote.

“Autistic children aren’t puppies. They don’t have ‘forever families.’ They don’t get ‘rehomed.’ They get abandoned,” another Twitter user said. 

On top of that, there are a ton of people who feel that the couple exploited Huxley for their channel, pointing to the fact that they monetized adoption videos and took sponsorships for them. 

Now, some are calling for the family to take all videos of Huxley down, while others are sharing a change.org petition asking YouTube to remove monetization from those videos. 

According to Myka’s channel, she has shared 27 videos about their adoption journey, which included updates and Q&A about the process. The vlog channel currently has no content on it, though it’s unclear if videos were recently changed to private following all of the outrage.

To understand what people are now questioning the family’s ethics for, some are pointing to a sponsored video where proceeds were supposed to be “going towards bringing our SON home from China!”

In other videos, Myka promoted a fundraiser for helping Huxley’s needs. And in a 2017 video, she said every person who donated $5 would unlock a different piece of a 1,000-piece puzzle, which would, at the end, be a photo of Huxley that she would reveal to the world. She also said she would write the names of all donors in his baby book.

Others have slammed Myka because she was viewed as an adoption advocate who wrote for parenting blogs and magazines.

Meanwhile, others noted she regularly posted things suggesting she wouldn’t trade Huxley for anything.

Unconfirmed Response

There is a screenshot of a pinned YouTube comment that was allegedly written by Myka circulating online, however, that comment is not currently pinned under her video so it cannot be confirmed as real.

But it says that the family, “would never just give up a child with special needs, this is a personal matter to Hux it had nothing to do with he just had Autism.”

“Multiple scary things happened inside the home towards our other children, if these events happened with one of my biological kids, after all the help and after the behaviors we witnessed sadly we would have no other choice then to seek help and get their needs met.”

The comment claims that Huxley “wanted this decision 100%,” adding, “We sat that in family time with other people, he constantly choose them and signed and showed tons of emotion to show us and let us know he wanted this.”

As of now, there have been no further statements about the announcement, and the adoption videos still appear on Myka’s YouTube channel. Myka has not returned Rogue Rocket’s request for a comment on the issue.

See what others are saying: (People) (EOnline) (BBC)

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