- YouTube reversed an upcoming change to its verification system that would have removed the verification checkmarks from many creators, including some with more than a million subscribers.
- YouTube said, starting by the end of October, it will update the application process for verification by confirming the channel’s identity as well as by ensuring the channel is “complete” with an icon, content, and recent activity.
- Users who would have lost their checkmark praised the decision after originally expressing concern over the previous announcement.
YouTube Reverses Verification Policy Change
A day after YouTube announced it would be removing the verification checkmarks of some creators, it reversed course on Friday, saying creators who are already verified can keep their verification.
“To our creators & users–I’m sorry for the frustration & hurt that we caused with our new approach to verification,” YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said on Twitter. “While trying to make improvements, we missed the mark.”
“We heard loud & clear how much the badge means to you,” she continued. “Channels that currently have verification will now keep it without appeal. We’ll continue reviewing those channels to ensure we’re protecting creators from impersonation.”
A post on YouTube Creator Blog echoed and expanded on Wojcicki’s tweets, saying the move was originally intended to curb impersonations and clear up associations with what the checkmark means.
“The idea behind this update was to protect creators from impersonation and address user confusion,” the blog post reads. “Every year, we receive tens of thousands of complaints from creators about impersonation. Also, nearly a third of YouTube users told us that they misunderstood the badge’s meaning, associating it with *endorsement of content*, and not an indicator of *identity*. While rolling out improvements to this program, we completely missed the mark. We’re sorry for the frustration that this caused and we have a few updates to share.”
Many creators praised YouTube for listening to their concerns.
“Couldn’t be happier that YouTube listened to creators about verification badges and that Susan personally addressed the issue,” LifewithMaK said on Twitter. “There truly is strength in numbers. Our voices were heard loud and clear.”
Thanks so much, Susan. This really does mean a lot to us 🔑— Ryan B. (@PrestigeIsKey) September 20, 2019
Thank you Susan 🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠🤠— LG Kiwiz (@Kiwiz) September 20, 2019
🤠👍— ƿ૯ωძɿ૯ƿɿ૯ (@pewdiepie) September 22, 2019
This is good— Jacksepticeye (@Jack_Septic_Eye) September 21, 2019
YouTube Changes Verification Policy
YouTubers were first made aware of the now-canceled change with an email shared Thursday, some of which read, “We’re writing to you to let you know that we’re updating the eligibility criteria for channel verification. Unfortunately, with these changes, your channel no longer meets the criteria to be verified.”
Notably, that list includes several prominent YouTubers like LifewithMaK, MacDoesIt, JaackMaate, Strawburry17, and Kiwiz. All of those creators have over one million subscribers, and Kiwiz boasts 2.34 million.
Prior to the announced change, creators only needed to attain 100,000 subscribers on their channel to apply for verification; however, under the new change, which had been expected to be completed by the end of October, creators would also have needed to pass several other requirements.
The first would have ensured the channel belongs “to the real creator, artist, public figure or company it claims to represent.” The second requirement would have applied even more strenuous challenges, such as “representing a well-known or highly-searched for creator, artist, public figure or company.” Additionally, creators would have needed to be “widely recognized outside of YouTube and have a strong presence online.”
Following the announcement, popular YouTubers criticized the move on social media, with many fearing the loss of their verification would translate into fewer views. Without the checkmark, they also feared their content would be demoted in searches. Notably, verified users also receive prioritization at the top of the comment section.
“This HAS to be a bug on YouTube’s end,” Kiwiz said. “I have literally been invited to YouTube creator only events and even have my own YouTube Partner manager. How is getting 15-20 million views a MONTH with over 2 million subscribers NOT fitting the criteria?”
Machiazelli Kahey the creator of MacDoesIt, a channel with around 1.9 million subscribers, criticized the platform after having appeared in a YouTube promotional campaign promoting black artists during Pride month.
“Hi @youtube if you don’t keep my channel verified I would not like you to use my photos as marketing purposes on your socials,” he said in a Thursday Instagram story. “If you want to use me to shape the face of your company you’re gonna have to respect me as a face of your company thank you.”
Several other major creators like James Charles and Jacksepticeye were not in danger of losing their checkmarks, but they still defended other creators on social media.
“Everyone getting unverified on YT today,” Jacksepticeye said. “It’s a slap in the face but try not let it get to you and demotivate you. Keep creating and making cool shit.”
Confusion Over Checkmarks
On the same day as the announcement, many users soon became confused on who would be losing a checkmark and who wouldn’t.
One such example involved Jake Paul, who currently does not have a checkmark. YouTube later clarified, saying Paul lost the checkmark before the announcement when he changed his channel name to a joke name.
People also noticed mega creator PewDiePie, who recently hit 100 million subscribers, lacked a checkmark on mobile; however, PewDiePie has a checkmark on the site’s desktop layout.
YouTube then clarified again, saying, “The checkmark has never appeared on YouTube mobile channel pages (this will be added soon).”
Still, users were left confused after noticing that James Charles apparently has a verification check on mobile.
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.