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YouTube Joins Facebook and Twitter in Saying Politicians Are Exempt From Some Content Rules

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  • 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.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Forbes) (Politico)

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The US is “Looking at” a Potential TikTok Ban, Pompeo Says as the Company Pulls Out of Hong Kong

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  • Early Monday, TikTok announced that it would be leaving the Hong Kong market over fears regarding China’s new national security law, which would require the company to hand over user data.
  • Later in the day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that the U.S. is “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including TikTok.
  • The Chinese-owned app has long been accused of giving data to the Chinese Communist Party, which it has repeatedly denied.
  • If put in place, an American ban would just be the latest national-restriction against TikTok. India banned the app on July 1 over similar fears that it gave away user data to Chinese authorities.

Could TikTok Face an American Ban?

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News Monday night that the United States was “looking at” banning Chinese social media apps, including the popular video-sharing app TikTok.

When speaking to host Laura Ingraham about potential plans to restrict the app, Pompeo said, “We’re taking this very seriously, but we’re certainly looking at it. We’ve worked on this very issue for a long time.”

“With respect to Chinese apps on people’s cellphones, I can assure you the United States will get this one right too,” he added.

Despite his claims, there haven’t been any concrete efforts made public yet. Still, when asked if he’d recommend for people to download TikTok, the Secretary of State replied, “Only if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.”

TikTok has adamantly claimed that despite its parent company ByteDance being based in China, TikTok itself isn’t controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, nor does it have deep ties with the party.

The app claims that the executives and managers who actually make decisions about its business and make its content rules are all outside of China. The company also states that Chinese authorities have no say in what is and isn’t allowed on the app, and lastly, that user data isn’t stored in China.

American authorities doubt these claims, as the company is owned by ByteDance, which is based in China and like most large Chinese companies, is thought to have close ties to the ruling Communist Party. Adding to the fuel that TikTok complies with Chinese authorities is the fact that ByteDance also owns its sister company, Douyin, which is essentially a Chinese version of TikTok.

A U.S. ban would be a massive loss for the company, which is home to some of its biggest creators. The app has also faced hurdles in India, where a ban went into effect on July 1 that blocked TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps. The nation of over 1 billion is among its largest markets.

Australia has also floated the idea of banning the platform over concerns it inappropriately shares data with the Chinese government.

Pulling Out of Hong Kong

Aside from promising that it isn’t controlled by Chinese authorities, TikTok has also made recent moves to distance itself from the country. Hours before Pompeo spoke to Fox News, TikTok announced that it would be pulling out of the Hong Kong market over fears about a sweeping national security law imposed on the city by China on June 29.

According to TikTok, the app would be inoperable within Hong Kong in a few days. Additionally, it wouldn’t process data requests from China or Hong Kong police, although some current residents already say they can’t download the app.

Hong Kong authorities used the new national security law to release strict new rules regarding online posts. If police suspect an “electronic message” endangers “national security,” they can ask the publisher, platform, host, or network provider to remove or restrict access to it. Those who publish messages and don’t comply face a $100,000 fine and upwards of six months in jail.

Users who actually make the posts face a similar fine and up to a year in jail.

According to multiple reports, the rules explicitly allow authorities to jail employees at internet companies that don’t reply, regardless if they’re based in Hong Kong or not. It should be noted that punishment would only be applicable if one was to actually travel to Hong Kong or China, as most nations wouldn’t comply with another country claiming extraterritorial authority.

However, it still puts companies in an awkward position; comply with Chinese authorities and face backlash for caving on free speech, or disregard the rules and potentially risk employee safety and losing market access.

It wasn’t just TikTok that responded to the new rules, other tech giants like Facebook, Google, and Twitter all said they would temporarily halt data requests from Hong Kong authorities as they decide what to do in the long run. All three had spokespeople and statements that were remarkably similar.

A Facebook spokesperson told Reuters, “We are pausing the review of government requests for user data from Hong Kong pending further assessment of the National Security Law, including formal human rights due diligence and consultations with international human rights experts.”

“We believe freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” the statement continued.

Even though at face value it may seem like a hollow gesture, considering the fact that these companies are banned in China, it’s actually a big risk to a massive revenue stream. All three of those companies have major advertiser programs in China.

While they debate whether to comply with the law or not, it’s interesting to note that TikTok went further than the rest by actually pulling services out of the city. That might be because Hong Kong wasn’t a huge market for the company.

It consistently lost them money and only about 150,000 Hong Kongers used the app. Another facet that may limit the impact of “losing” Hong Kong is that TikTok’s sister app, Douyin, is still usable and popular in Hong Kong, despite not officially being available in the city.

See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (The New York Times) (CNN)

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“The Rock” Surpasses Kylie Jenner as Highest-Paid Star on Instagram

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  • After coming in at No. 6 last year, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has now skyrocketed to the top of Hopper HQ’s Instagram Rich List, with it estimating that he earns $1,015,00 per sponsored post.
  • Kylie Jenner, who he dethroned, now sits at No. 2, charging $986,000 per post.
  • Kim Kardashian West ranked No. 4 with $858,000, just a day after it was revealed that she sold 20% of KKW Beauty to Coty Inc. The deal values KKW Beauty at $1 billion and makes her net worth around $900 million.
  • TikTok stars Charlie D’Amelio and Addison Rae also captured attention for making it into the top 10 highest paid per post in the Lifestyle category, after rising to fame in under a year. 

Instagram’s Highest-Paid Users Revealed 

Kylie Jenner was officially dethroned by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the highest-paid person on Instagram, according to Hopper HQ’s fourth annual “Instagram Rich List.” 

Hopper HQ, the social media planning tool behind the list, announced its new rankings Tuesday, which estimates how much high profile figures charge per sponsored post. According to the company, it uses “publically and privately available data to create the most accurate list possible.”

Last year, Jenner topped the company’s list, with it estimating that she earned $1,266,000 per sponsored post. At the time, Johnson took the No. 6 spot, raking in about $882,000 for each of his.

Since then, Johnson’s Instagram earning have jumped by 15%, helping him snatch the No. 1 slot with an estimated $1,015,00 per sponsored post. Jenner on the other hand, dropped by 22%, earning her the No. 2 title with $986,000 each.   

Jenner’s new ranking comes just a month after Forbes stripped her of her billionaire title when it accused her of exaggerating her cosmetic company’s earning. At the time, Jenner called the claims “inaccurate” and “unproven,” while her representatives said that neither she nor anyone from her team falsified tax returns or lied to claim the title. 

But even without the billionaire status, Jenner is still insanely wealthy. Forbes estimated her net worth at $900 million and just a few days after publishing its exposé, it ranked her as the highest-paid celebrity with an estimated $590 million in earnings over the last year. 

As far as the “Instagram Rich List” goes, celebrities that follow Jenner include Cristiano Ronaldo, Kim Kardashian West, Ariana Grande, Selena Gomez, Beyonce Knowles, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift, to name a few.

Is Kim Kardashian a Billionaire? 

Kardashian West is another standout with her No. 4 ranking, charging an estimated $858,000 per post. That’s because the ranking comes just a day after reports that she sold a stake in her cosmetic brand, KKW Beauty, to Coty Inc for $200 million.

Last year, her youngest sister made headlines for striking a huge deal with the beauty brand, selling 51% of Kylie Cosmetics for $600 million in a deal that valued the company at $1.2 billion. 

But Kardashian West’s deal is a bit different. She only sold off a 20% stake in her business, leaving her with 72% and her mother, Kris Jenner, with 8%. According to Coty, she will remain responsible for creative efforts while Coty will focus on expanding product development outside the realm of color cosmetics.

Following the news, Kanye West congratulated his wife for “officially becoming a billionaire” with a bizarre photo of what appeared to be vegetables and flowers. 

However, as Forbes pointed out, this deal actually makes her net worth about $900 million and values KKW Beauty at $1 billion. 

Other Standouts on the 2020 Instagram Rich List 

Aside from “The Rock” and the Kardashian-Jenner rankings, there were some other notable standouts on Hopper HQ’s list.

In the beauty category, Huda Kattan of Huda Beauty made the top of the list with an estimated $91,800 per post. Far behind at No. 2 and 3 were beauty influencers James Charles and Jeffree Star, who charge an estimated $38,400 and $32,700 per sponsored post, respectively. 

In fashion, model Bella Hadid ranked No.1 with an estimated $91,900 per post, with Emily Ratajkowski following at No. 2 with $78,300. 

In sports, Cristiano Ronaldo maintained his top spot with $889,000 per paid post, followed by other huge names in soccer like Neymar Jr., Lionel Messi, and David Beckham. NBA star Lebron James ranked No. 5 with an estimated $307,000 for each of his.

But perhaps some of the most interesting numbers came from the Lifestyle category, which gave insight into the potential earnings of some popular influencers. 

Lele Pons ended up at the top of the list with an estimated $142,80 per sponsored post. She was followed by Sommer Ray, Zach King, and Cameron Dallas.

Others who made the top ten that probably won’t come as a surprise are longtime YouTuber Felix Kjellberg, also known as Pewdiepie, who came in at No. 5 with $72,500 and Viner turned YouTuber David Dobrik who ranked No. 7 with an estimated $69,900 per sponsored post. 

But some newcomers to the digital space that broke the top ten in this category are TikTokers 16-year-old Charli D’Amelio and 19-year-old Addison Rae Easterling. D’Amelio actually ranked above Dobrik at No. 6 with an estimated $71,200 per post. Easterling ranked just below him at No. 8 with $69,600 each. 

The Paul brothers then finish up the top ten with Logan at No. 9 and Jake at No. 10. However, the success of the two TikTok stars is arguably the most impressive considering how quickly they’ve exploded to popularity and expanded onto other sites. 

Easterling, for instance, only joined TikTok in July 2019 and is the second most followed person on the app with 48.2 million followers. Meanwhile, D’Amilio is the most followed person on the app with 66.9 million followers, and she joined in June of 2019.

See what others are saying: (Forbes) (LAD Bible) (Yahoo Lifestyle)

Correction: This story has been updated with the correct spelling of Cristiano Ronaldo’s name.

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Breaking Down Shane Dawson’s History of Offensive and Inappropriate Content

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  • YouTuber Shane Dawson is facing backlash for racist and offensive jokes he has made throughout his career, including instances where he used black or brownface and said the n-word.
  • Many also took issue with his jokes about pedophilia, including one where he pretends to masturbate in front of a poster of 11-year-old Willow Smith and another where he appears to joke that pedophilia is a fetish.
  • Over the past few years, he has apologized for some of these instances and for doing blackface, but in a recent video Friday, he acknowledged that this was not enough, and apologized once more.
  • He is still facing other heat from the beauty community, as some fans think he used the industry for a profit, only to later slander the people in it.

Shane’s Past Racist and Inappropriate Jokes

Over the past several days, controversies surrounding YouTuber Shane Dawson have spread across the Internet, prompting Dawson to issue an apology. But with so much being thrown around, what exactly are people accusing him of?

Well, many are bringing up racist and inappropriate jokes he has made in his past. In several instances, internet users brought up footage of him doing black and brownface or using the n-word. In 2014, Dawson apologized for using blackface, claiming he did not know what it meant. 

“I made a mistake. And I should not have done it,” he said. “I should not have put makeup on my face to make myself look Black it was stupid.” 

Others brought up footage of him saying predatory things about children. One clip shows him asking a young fan to twerk for him during a webchat with him and his mother.

In soundbites from a 2013 podcast, he can be heard making jokes about pedophilia. 

“People have foot fetishes, people have fetishes about everything. Fine. Everybody do your thing. So why is it that when somebody looks at, googles, naked baby on google and jerks off to it, they can get arrested?” he asked after calling a six-year-old “sexy.”.

“Here’s the worst part of it, I actually went to google like, I want to see, I just wanted to see, let me pretend like I’m a pedophile for a sec,” he added. “So I typed in naked baby, first of all they were sexy.” 

However, back in 2018, he said those jokes were taken out of context and that he was actually saying pedophilia was disgusting. He also posted a YouTube video at the time that showed the unedited footage, where he does say that he does not “understand why anybody would be turned on by that.”

“I’m sorry that I used to make really shitty fucking jokes,” he said, adding that he made them for shock value and to get a rise out of his co-host.  

But more clips continued to resurface, including one were he is showing photos of his young fans in his merchandise, saying he would rape them. In another, he pretends to masturbate to a poster of Willow Smith, who was 11-years-old at the time. 

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Many also brought up clips of Dawson interacting with his tween cousin where he makes sexual jokes and asks her inappropriate questions.

Outrage at Shane’s Depiction of Beauty Community

Dawson’s Friday video addressed many of these clips, which he said he is sorry for. However, these off-color jokes are not the only reason he is in the hot seat right now. Many in the beauty community have slammed him for seemingly using the industry to make a profit.

Dawson recently made a statement announcing his exit from the beauty community. In that statement, he painted the community as a toxic bunch who live for drama, while standing by his friend and collaborator Jeffree Star, who many believe is perhaps one of the most toxic and dramatic beauty YouTubers.

Dawson has made two docuseries about Star. In the most recent one, the two collaborated on a palette together, which was restocked prior to him announcing his departure from this industry. Because of this, people thought Dawson was taking his money and running, all while insulting the beauty community, which he briefly infiltrated. 

YouTuber Samantha Ravndahl tweeted that if he thinks the whole community is toxic, he is “watching the wrong people.”

“Let’s just be clear, you didn’t do a beauty series. You highlighted the literal one person that has continually been the most toxic, harmful, racist, misogynistic, threatening individual in the community,” Ravndahl added in a video addressing Dawson.

She also explained that while many see the beauty industry as female-dominated, the higher ups, CEOs and top earners are often male, cis-gendered, white or white passing. This means that men tend to benefit from the community the most, but when the industry faces backlash, women are often the ones with a sullied reputation. 

Ravndahl then explained that she believes Dawson, along with Star, have benefited from being males in the beauty community. 

“I really suggest that you question whether or not you would be okay with the things that they say, that the things that they do, with the things that they have done in the past. If you’d be okay with those exact same things if they happened with a female influencer,” she said. “And I just, if you’re being honest with yourself, I highly doubt that the answer is yes, that you would be ok with it.” 

In the past, female influencers like Laura Lee faced immediate consequences for their indiscretions. Old racist tweets cost Lee brand partnerships and big deals. Fans note that Star and Dawson both have countless old videos and content with racist behavior, but have not seen harsh punishment for it. 

See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (Seventeen) (People)

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