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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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Shane Dawson Says Hurtful Comments Are the Reason He Doesn’t Upload More

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  • Shane Dawson uploaded a video to his new YouTube channel dedicated to makeup videos and other “random” posts.
  • Shortly after his latest video went live, Dawson shared a comment someone left about his weight, saying that comments like these are what keep him from uploading more. 
  • After a flood of support, Dawson apologized for posting the screenshot and said he was taking a break from the internet.

Shane Glossin 

Long-time YouTuber Shane Dawson opened up on Wednesday about negative comments that make him hesitant to upload more content. 

As you probably already know, Dawson has a massively successful channel with over 23 million subscribers. And while fans love when he drops a new docuseries, he regularly hears complaints that he doesn’t upload enough. 

At some point during the process of his recent makeup collaboration with Jeffree Star Cosmetics, he was inspired to create a new channel, ShaneGlossin, which is named after a lip gloss included in his collection. Dawson does already have a second channel, Shane Dawson TV, though he hasn’t uploaded through that account in several years. 

In January, Dawson made his followers aware of the third account, calling it a low-pressure place to post makeup videos and other random content. 

Shane Tweets About Negative Comments

While his main channel has remained inactive over the past two months, Dawson has uploaded a few videos to his new channel, which currently sits at just over 3 million subscribers. On Wednesday, he uploaded a light-hearted video about his bedazzling obsession and shortly after the video went live, he shared a screenshot of a comment someone left under it.

The comment he shared read: “I love Shane but it’s a damn shame to watch him putting all this weight back on while everyone around him laughs and enables it.”

“Hey Shane why don’t u post more? Why don’t u upload more? Well… this 🙃,” Dawson wrote in the tweet that accompanied the screenshot. “You would think after 13 years on youtube comments wouldn’t get to me but damn… they still feel like the very first time haha.”

It’s no secret that for years, Dawson has been open about his weight insecurities, body image issues, and mental health struggles. After sharing the comment, fans quickly flooded him with messages of love and support. 

In a follow-up post, Dawson apologized for sharing the screenshot “Thanks for the nice tweets. I appreciate it a lot,” he wrote. “Sorry I got sensitive and posted that. I usually just ignore stuff but I’m just in a weird headspace lately :/ I think I’m gonna take a break from the internet for a bit. Thanks for being supportive and having my back.” 

While Dawson has been met with kindness from friends and fans, his post highlights the impact hate comments on social media can have on a person, no matter how big or small their following.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Pop Buzz) (Distractify)

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Ninja Sparks Conversations About Dealing With Gaming Losses

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  • Ninja tweeted that the phrase “it’s just a game” signals a weak mindset and was critical of players who are not angry after a loss. 
  • Some saw it as a message about improvement and taking the game seriously, while others used it as an opportunity to make jokes. 
  • But many said the comments send a bad message to his young audience and argued that you do not need to become angry to learn from a loss.

Ninja’s Message 

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins, one of the Internet’s biggest gamers, called out players who aren’t angry after a loss, sparking conversations about healthy ways to deal with failure. 

On Tuesday, Ninja tweeted, “The phrase ‘it’s just a game’ is such a weak mindset. You are ok with what happened, losing, imperfection of a craft. When you stop getting angry after losing, you’ve lost twice.”

“There’s always something to learn, and always room for improvement, never settle,” he added.

Reactions 

Many interpreted his tweet as an inspirational message about taking gaming seriously and agreed with him. 

Others used it as an opportunity to crack jokes about his intense remarks, including Lil Nas X and KSI.

But plenty of others thought his comments actually sent a dangerous message about dealing with and learning from failure. 

Gaming YouTuber Ohmwrecker, also known as MaskedGamer, disagreed with Ninja. In a response tweet, he said, “You don’t have to be a sore / salty loser and get all toxic to learn from a loss. I feel strongly losing helps you get better, especially in competitive games.  Anyone doing anything competitive should find value in a loss, but don’t need anger to benefit.”

He also said it actually was weak to suggest that managing your emotions is “losing twice” and accused Ninja of trying to justify his own internal challenges.

Thousands of other users chimed in expressing similar sentiments about managing emotions.

Ninja Says He Never Suggested Violent Rage Was Appropriate 

In a now-deleted tweet, another person called Ninja’s stance disappointing, “particularly from someone with an audience who will take this as ‘it’s ok to smash my keyboard/scream at my loved ones/punch a hole in the wall just because I lost a game.’”

@zhiana

Ninja responded to that user with, “Where in this tweet do I say punch a wall and smash a keyboard/rage? It’s the way you perceived the message 🤔”

When someone argued that Ninja was essentially telling kids to keep playing until they win otherwise they are failures, Ninja said, “‘There is always room for improvement, never settle’ is bad advice?”

The wave of backlash doesn’t seem to have changed Ninja’s mind about his long-running issue with people who say “its just a game.” One user even shared a clip of Ninja once commenting on this topic. “Imagine telling Lebron James, Tom Brady, that when they’re pissed off after losing a game that ‘its just a game,” he says in the clip. 

“Are you kidding me? You’re so stupid. It’s the competitive nature bro. It’s about respect bro. It’s about pride. It’s so much bigger than a fucking video game, and anyone that ever users the excuse ‘it’s just a game’ is a horrible human being and is lazy.” 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (GameRevolution) (CCN)

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Jake Paul Criticized for Tweets About Anxiety

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  • YouTuber Jake Paul tweeted, “remember anxiety is created by you,” before advising his followers who might be struggling to remind themselves to be happy, relax their minds, and talk to a friend. 
  • Many found his comments insulting and dangerous, but others defended him for what they felt was a well-intentioned tweet with advice that some might find helpful.  
  • In a follow-up tweet, Paul opened up about his own anxiety issues and explained that he was trying to say there are ways to help cope, but he eventually deleted that post along with his initial tweet.

“Anxiety is Created by You”

Internet users are slamming YouTuber Jake Paul over a tweet about mental health that many found dangerous and insulting. 

On Monday the 23-year-old tweeted, “remember anxiety is created by you. sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy & that the answers will come.”

“Chill your mind out,” he added before recommending that those struggling “go for a walk” or “talk to a friend.” 

@jakepaul

Backlash 

The tweet prompted thousands of responses from internet users. Many, of course, joked that Paul had “cured” their anxiety. 

Meanwhile, others fired back with more serious responses, including people who suffer from anxiety themselves. 

Fellow YouTubers like Sierra Schultzzie also chimed in writing, “This is actually really harmful. Anxiety can be incredibly physical as well as mental. Mental illness is not the fault of the sufferer.”

“Please delete this, you are doing actual harm to your followers who very well may need to be seeking professional help for their problems,” she added.

Colleen Ballinger tweeted, “telling people with anxiety to just stop having anxiety does not help them with their anxiety.” 

Andrea Russett wrote, “i can’t believe i’m paying $200 an hour for therapy when i could just remind myself to be happy.”

Paul Tries to Clarify 

After seeing some backlash, Paul went back to Twitter with a follow-up post to expand on what he meant. “What I meant is that your anxiety can build up if you let it,” he wrote, “it doesn’t just go away.”

“Mine never does but there’s days where it’s really bad and then there’s days when it’s not as bad so if anxiety starts to build up there ARE ways to help it chill out.” 

@jakepaul

In another tweet, he wrote: “everyone is clowning my tweet but not it’s spreading more awareness about anxiety which I didn’t even know was a thing till I was 18 but had it my whole life & never knew how to deal with it.”

“If u think u have it or wanna deal with it try reading this,” Paul added along with a link to an article about coping with anxiety from Healthline.com.

In response to those comments, more influencers explained what exactly their issues were with his initial post.

Taylor Nicole Dean said, “ur tweet spread bAD info about anxiety bc it can stop people from getting help when it’s needed thinking they can just walk it off and chill :/ it was also a lil insulting to those who deal with it.”

Sky Williams responded by telling Paul his tweet was dangerous to his young audience. “Anxiety is bad enough as it is, but now you’re trying to make it seem like its our fault that we feel anxious. it’s just so invalidating and shortsighted. You should delete it.”

Paul eventually deleted his initial post as well as his follow up tweet, but left up think link he shared about coping with anxiety. 

Some Defend Paul

Despite the widespread backlash against Paul, many felt that his tweet was well-intentioned and could be helpful advice for some. 

Others argued that he shouldn’t be attacked for trying to share advice that has helped him. Instead, those who took issue with his phrasing or message should use this as an opportunity to educate.

See what others are saying: (Mashable) (Newsweek) (BBC)

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