- YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced the platform would not remove politicians’ posts that would normally violate community standards.
- The move follows another recent and similar announcement by Facebook, which said it will grant exemptions to politicians because it considers political speech “newsworthy.”
- Both moves are largely seen as attempts to remain politically neutral ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections as well as to address and adapt to concerns pertaining to hate speech and violence.
YouTube’s Exemptions Announced
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced Wednesday that the video platform will allow some posts by politicians to remain on the site even if those posts would normally violate community standards.
“When you have a political officer that is making information that is really important for their constituents to see, or for other global leaders to see,” Wojcicki said while speaking at The Atlantic Festival, “that is content that we would leave up because we think it’s important for other people to see.”
Wojcicki continued, arguing that even if YouTube took down a video by a politician, the media would still cover it and give context to it.
A YouTube spokesperson later told Politico that politicians are still subject to its community guidelines but clarified that it will grant exemptions to political speech if it deems it to be educational, scientific, or artistic. It will also grant exceptions to their speech in documentaries. Those exceptions, however, reportedly apply to other videos, as well.
Facebook’s Previous Announcement
Wojcicki’s announcement follows a similar decision made Tuesday by Facebook.
Also speaking at The Atlantic Festival on Tuesday, Nick Clegg——Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications—clarified his company’s stance on posts made by politicians, saying the platform considers political speech “newsworthy.”
“It is not our role to intervene when politicians speak,” he said.
“I know some people will say we should go further, that we are wrong to allow politicians to use our platform to say nasty things or make false claims,” he continued. “But imagine the reverse. “Would it be acceptable to society at large to have a private company in effect become a self-appointed referee for everything that politicians say? I don’t believe it would be.”
On top of this, Facebook had already made politicians exempt from its fact-checking program. For example, that includes not flagging clips from debates where a politician makes an inaccurate or incorrect claim.
Clegg did note, however, that the exceptions may not extend to speech that could incite violence. They also do not extend to ads.
Twitter’s June Announcement
Both moves follow an announcement by Twitter in June that it would demote posts from politicians if those posts violated community standards; however, the platform said it would still allow the posts and would include a warning.
“The Twitter Rules about [specific rule] apply to this Tweet,” the generalized warning reads. “However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain available.”
Why Does Any of This Matter?
The announcements by each of these platforms have generally been seen as an attempt to adapt their policies concerning hate speech or speech that incites real-world violence.
Essentially, the moves have been seen as an answer to critics who have accused the platforms of not taking a hard enough stance on politicians who break their rules.
Another major reason why these platforms are making such announcements may be to keep from being accused of bias ahead of the 2020 elections.
Facebook, a frequent target of Democrats and Republicans, has been subject to intense scrutiny since the 2016 elections, both over concerns of Russian interference and political bias.
“We are champions of free speech and defend it in the face of attempts to restrict it,” Clegg said in a blog post. “Censoring or stifling political discourse would be at odds with what we are about.”
By standardizing how these platforms deal with posts by politicians, it would seemingly keep them outside of any political disputes.
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.
Twitch Blames Server Configuration Error for Hack, Says There’s No Indication That Login Info Leaked
The platform also said full credit card numbers were not reaped by hackers, as that data is stored externally.
Login and Credit Card Info Secure
Twitch released a security update late Wednesday claiming it had seen “no indication” that users’ login credentials were stolen by hackers who leaked the entire platform’s source code earlier in the day.
“Full credit card numbers are not stored by Twitch, so full credit card numbers were not exposed,” the company added in its announcement.
The leaked data, uploaded to 4chan, includes code related to the platform’s security tools, as well as exact totals of how much it has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
Early Thursday, Twitch also announced that it has now reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Streamers looking for their new keys can visit a dashboard set up by the platform, though users may need to manually update their software with the new key before being able to stream again depending on what kind of software they use.
As far as what led to the hackers being able to steal the data, Twitch blamed an error in a “server configuration change that was subsequently accessed by a malicious third party,” confirming that the leak was not the work of a current employee who used internal tools.
Will Users Go to Other Streaming Platforms?
While no major creators have said they are leaving Twitch for a different streaming platform because of the hack, many small users have either announced their intention to leave Twitch or have said they are considering such a move.
It’s unclear if the leak, coupled with other ongoing Twitch controversies, will ultimately lead to a significant user exodus, but there’s little doubt that other platforms are ready and willing to leverage this hack in the hopes of attracting new users.
At least one big-name streamer has already done as much, even if largely only presenting the idea as a playful jab rather than with serious intention.
“Pretty crazy day today,” YouTube’s Valkyrae said on a stream Wednesday while referencing a tweet she wrote earlier the day.
“YouTube is looking to sign more streamers,” that tweet reads.
“I mean, they are! … No shade to Twitch… Ah! Well…” Valkyrae said on stream before interrupting herself to note that she was not being paid by YouTube to make her comments.
The Entirety of Twitch Has Been Leaked Online, Including How Much Top Creators Earn
The data dump, which could be useful for some of Twitch’s biggest competitors, could signify one of the most encompassing platform leaks ever.
Massive Collection of Data Leaked
Twitch’s full source code was uploaded to 4chan Wednesday morning after it was obtained by hackers.
Among the 125 GB of stolen data is information revealing that Amazon, which owns Twitch, has at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library. That library, codenamed Vapor, would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
With Amazon being the all-encompassing giant that it is, it’s not too surprising that it would try to develop a Steam rival, but it’s eyecatching news nonetheless considering how much the release of Vapor could shake up the market.
The leaked data also showcased exactly how much Twitch has paid its creators, including the platform’s top accounts, such as the group CriticalRole, as well as steamers xQcOW, Tfue, Ludwig, Moistcr1tikal, Shroud, HasanAbi, Sykkuno, Pokimane, Ninja, and Amouranth.
These figures only represent payouts directly from Twitch. Each creator mentioned has made additional money through donations, sponsorships, and other off-platform ventures. Sill, the information could be massively useful for competitors like YouTube Gaming, which is shelling out big bucks to ink deals with creators.
Data related to Twitch’s internal security tools, as well as code related to software development kits and its use of Amazon Web Services, was also released with the hack. In fact, so much data was made public that it could constitute one of the most encompassing platform dumps ever.
Streamer CDawgVA, who has just under 500,000 subscribers on Twitch, tweeted about the severity of the data breach on Wednesday.
“I feel like calling what Twitch just experienced as “leak” is similar to me shitting myself in public and trying to call it a minor inconvenience,” he wrote. “It really doesn’t do the situation justice.”
Despite that, many of the platform’s top streamers have been quite casual about the situation.
“Hey, @twitch EXPLAIN?”xQc tweeted. Amouranth replied with a laughing emoji and the text, “This is our version of the Pandora papers.”
Meanwhile, Pokimane tweeted, “at least people can’t over-exaggerate me ‘making millions a month off my viewers’ anymore.”
Others, such as Moistcr1tikal and HasanAbi argued that their Twitch earning are already public information given that they can be easily determined with simple calculations.
Could More Data Come Out?
This may not be the end of the leak, which was labeled as “part one.” If true, there’s no reason to think that the leakers wouldn’t publish a part two.
For example, they don’t seem to be too fond of Twitch and said they hope this data dump “foster[s] more disruption and competition in the online video streaming space.”
They added that the platform is a “disgusting toxic cesspool” and included the hashtag #DoBetterTwitch, which has been used in recent weeks to drive boycotts against the platform as smaller creators protest the ease at which trolls can use bots to spam their chats with racist, sexist, and homophobic messages.
Still, this leak does appear to lack one notable set of data: password and address information of Twitch users.
That doesn’t necessarily mean the leakers don’t have it. It could just mean they are only currently interested in sharing Twitch’s big secrets.
Regardless, Twitch users and creators are being strongly urged to change their passwords as soon as possible and enable two-factor authentication.