- YouTube will soon remove personalized ads from children’s content after the Federal Trade Commission determined that it had violated children’s privacy laws by placing targeted ads over kids’ content.
- Following YouTube’s announcement, creators like Jeremy Johnston of J House Vlogs are now bringing their concerns directly before the Federal Trade Commission during their open window, which closes Dec. 9.
- Among other concerns, creators are asking the FTC to provide a better definition of “child-directed” content out of fear that they may still lose ads on video that may be deemed “attractive,” but not necessarily directed at children.
YouTubers Lobby FTC
Children’s content creators and family bloggers on YouTube are lobbying against upcoming changes to an online child privacy law, which they say will affect the quality of their videos and how those videos make money.
As of Thursday afternoon, a Change.org petition arguing against the changes has attracted more than 38,000 signatures. The petition was started by Jeremy Johnston who, along with his wife Kendra, run the family vlogging channel J House Vlogs.
In September, YouTube announced that it would be changing the way it displays ads on children’s content. The changes are meant to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act after the Federal Trade Commission and New York Attorney General Letitia James accused YouTube of illegally collecting personal information from children to show them targeted ads.
Regarding ads, YouTube uses two types: general and personalized ads. General ads appear regardless of a user’s viewing history, but personalized ads look at a user’s viewing history to present products or services a user may be more interested in.
Because of the changes to COPPA, YouTube said it will remove all personalized ads on children’s content in January. The FTC also said it would hear public comments until Oct. 23 before enforcing new COPPA guidelines.
As a result, Johnston has lobbied the Federal Trade Commission in an attempt to add exceptions to children’s content creators.
Johnston Speaks with Rogue Rocket
In an interview with Rogue Rocket, Johnston said he filed a request to extend the FTC’s public comments period until Dec. 9, which was later approved.
Johnston told Rogue Rocket he made the filing after meeting with the FTC. During the meeting, he said the commission was unaware that personalized and general ads paid different amounts to creators.
While Johnston said he thought the FTC was legitimately trying to do what’s best for children, he also said FTC was largely unaware of creators’ concerns beforehand.
Regarding his own channel, Johnston said he and his wife have already decided to pull the plug on a planned children’s channel called J House Jr.
While he said big creators can find other ways to generate money, through brand deals or other projects, he also said losing personalized ads can be devastating for channels.
“That isn’t going to be available for the small creators in the future, and that’s a big reason why I’m speaking out,” he told Rogue Rocket. “I wouldn’t be doing all of this if it was just about my channel. But I’m considering other people like me or other people five years, 10 years from now who want to get going. I’m so grateful that when I took that leap of faith to say ‘I’m going to do YouTube full-time’ that ad revenue made that possible.”
Although Johnston said he understands the need for parents to have control in their kids’ privacy online, he said the new changes won’t do that.
“We care about children’s privacy,” he said. “We are just saying that this regulation is going to do more harm than good. I think it’s really important that we all recognize that the majority of parents are letting their children watch YouTube main.”
“We’re wanting parents to continue making that choice with the government coming in and overriding the parents’ decision,” he continued. “If parents were really concerned with personalized ads, it raises the question, why are they all letting their children watch YouTube main?”
What’s in the Petition?
Specifically, the creators and supporters who’ve signed that petition are asking the FTC to provide a statement on how COPPA will be enforced against creators, as well as clarify the definition of “child-directed” content.
One major concern for creators is the specific use of the language “child-directed.” Currently, the FTC is debating whether or not to add “child-attractive” content, ie. content that is marketed to a general audience but could still be considered friendly for children to watch.
The petition also requests that the FTC delay enforcement any changes until it finishes reviewing COPPA.
It ends by asking the FTC to encourage parents to use apps like YouTube Kids instead of forcing creators to turn off personalized ads.
According to Bloomberg, YouTube Kids currently only attracts about 1% of YouTube’s total audience even though kids’ content is the most-viewed on YouTube.
Why Is This Important to Viewers?
While some viewers find ads annoying, many creators make money by placing ads in front of their videos.
According to Tubefilter, general ads can bring in anywhere from 60 to 90% less than personalized ads. Creators fear that the loss of revenue could, in turn, hurt the quality of their videos.
In fact, Johnston says a lot of the money made from J House Vlogs videos goes back into making quality content on the channel.
In addition to that, creators also worry their content could be fined for violating COPPA, with that fine being up to $42,530. Creators like Johnston and Derral Eves say that these concerns could also result in more mature content on YouTube.
See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (Tubefilter)
Twitch Sues Two Users for Creating Hate Raid Bots That Targeted Black and LGBTQ+ Streamers
Twitch said the two users were so relentless in their racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ+ hate raids that they forced some creators to stop streaming.
Twitch Sues Two Users
Twitch has filed a lawsuit against two of its users for allegedly creating hate raid bots that targeted Black and LGBTQ+ streamers with racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ+ content.
The users named in the lawsuit, filed late Thursday, are CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose. While their legal names are currently unknown, Twitch said it traced one to the Netherlands and the other to Austria. It added that it will amend the suit to include their real names once it learns them.
Twitch said both users began using bots to flood streamers’ chats with hate-filled messages in August. Despite multiple suspensions and bans, Twitch said the two continually created new accounts to continue their hate raid crusades.
According to the lawsuit, CruzzControl operated nearly 3,000 bots that were used to spam the discriminatory and harassing content. Meanwhile, CreatineOverdose used “their bot software to demonstrate how it could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic descriptions of violence against minorities, and claims that the hate raiders are the KKK.”
Twitch didn’t just stop at accusations of hateful actions and rule-breaking. It even claimed the two users were so forceful in their efforts to attack creators that they pressured some to stop streaming altogether, “eliminating an important source of revenue for them.”
Twitch Users Demand Change
Twitch creators have long complained about hate raids, but a number of small creators began organizing a cohesive movement in early August following what appeared to be a growing number of hate raids.
Many demanded that Twitch address the situation by holding round tables with affected creators and enabling different features that would give them the ability to shut down incoming raids. Critics also called on the platform to provide detailed information about how it plans to protect creators moving forward. While Twitch did promise to implement fixes, a large portion of users weren’t satisfied with its messaging.
The bulk of users’ efforts culminated on Sep. 1 when various creators participated in #ADayOffTwitch, a one-day walkout designed to reduce traffic on the platform.
Despite Twitch’s lawsuit, a number of users have still said they won’t be completely satisfied with the platform’s actions until more is accomplished. For now, their primary goal is to have Twitch directly outline what steps it’s taking to prevent hate raids.
In its lawsuit, Twitch does make a cursory mention of several changes it said it’s introduced recently, including “implementing stricter identity controls with accounts, machine learning algorithms to detect bot accounts that are used to engage in harmful chat, and augmenting the banned word list.”
“Twitch mobilized its communications staff to address the community harm flowing from the hate raids and assured its community that it was taking proactive measures to stop them,” it added. “Twitch also worked with impacted streamers to educate them on moderation toolkits for their chats and solicited and responded to streamers’ and users’ comments and concerns.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (BuzzFeed News) (Kotaku)
Streamers Protest Racist and Homophobic Hate Raids With #ADayOffTwitch
The creators participating in the walkout want Twitch to implement policies that actively combat hate-raiding.
Numerous Twitch streamers went dark on the platform Wednesday as part of a movement called #ADayOffTwitch, which participants have described as a way to stand “in solidarity with marginalized creators under attack by botting & hate-raids.”
The protest was organized last month after a smaller creator by the name of RekItRaven, who is Black and uses they/them pronouns, had their streams flooded with racist messages twice.
“This channel now belongs to the KKK,” dozens of users commented during the streams.
For RekItRaven, those messages also came at a particularly disparaging time, as they had just finished talking about how several traumatic experiences had shaped their life.
Following the stream, RekItRaven began using #TwitchDoBetter, saying, “I love Twitch. I love the community that I built there… BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN I HAVE TO ACCEPT BEING TREATED LIKE SHIT ON THE PLATFORM.”
Soon, RekItRaven’s concerns gained traction, prompting a number of other smaller creators to step forward with their experiences about being on the receiving end of hate-raids. Eventually, that morphed into Tuesday’s #ADayOffTwitch protest, which has been spearheaded by RekItRaven and two other small creators known as ShineyPen and Lucia Everblack.
The protesters are demanding that Twitch make several concessions moving forward. Those demands include the platform:
- Holding round-tables with affected creators to assist with the creation of tools that combat abuse on the platform.
- Enabling creators to select the account age for prospective chatters.
- Allowing creators the ability to deny incoming raids.
- Removing the ability to attach more than three Twitch accounts to one email address since hate-raiders can currently use a single email to register unlimited accounts.
- Providing transparency into the actions being taken to protect creators, including giving a timeframe for that implementation.
For its part, Twitch has already promised to implement fixes, saying on Aug. 20, “Hate spam attacks are the result of highly motivated bad actors, and do not have a simple fix.”
“We’ve been building channel-level ban evasion detection and account improvements to combat this malicious behavior for months,” it added. “However, as we work on solutions, bad actors work in parallel to find ways around them—which is why we can’t always share details.”
However, for now, creators must still deal with potentially being hate-raided while streaming, which is why their anger toward Twitch has persisted.
Do Small Creators Have a Big Enough Voice?
The protest led by mostly smaller creators is also almost entirely composed of them. Because of this, the vacuum of silence from large creators, who hold a disproportionate amount of influence on the platform, has also led to frustration.
Many have pointed out that large creators will publicly show their support for minority causes during events such as Black History Month and Pride Month, but smaller users said they feel abandoned when those same creators don’t also actively participate in causes that directly combat minority hate.
“Nobody gives a fuck if you take the day off. Nobody knows who you are That’s the truth,” streamer Asmongold, who has 2.4 million followers on Twitch, on a stream last month. “If people got together and they said, we’re all going to collectively do it, I would do it in a heartbeat. Right, I would do it. I’ve got no problem because I do believe in power in numbers, I absolutely do, which is why I don’t believe in this. Like, you can’t get a bunch of 20 Andy’s together and think that you’re going to do anything. Nobody gives a fuck.”
That said, some influential streamers have added their voices to #ADayOff Twitch. For example, both Rhymestyle and Meg Turney participated in Tuesday’s protest; however, both creators have hundreds of thousands of more followers outside of Twitch rather than on it.
A number of smaller creators have also argued that it’s not feasible for them to take a day off even though they want to support the cause. For example, taking a day off could jeopardize them keeping their affiliate or partner status, which could, in turn, jeopardize their channels.
Meanwhile, others have argued that outcomes such as those are exactly what hate-raiders want to achieve, so logging off Twitch for a day could be playing into their hands.
Others still said they wanted to participate but are contractually obligated to stream every day either because of sponsorships or other deals.
CallMeCarson Announces Return to Streaming Following Grooming Allegations
In his return announcement, the YouTuber promised to donate 100% of his proceeds to charity in hopes that he can “turn a negative situation with a lot of eyes on it into something positive.”
Popular “Minecraft” YouTuber and streamer Carson King, known online as CallMeCarson, announced Wednesday that he will return to streaming following accusations he faced earlier this year of grooming and sexting underage fans.
In a video titled “Moving Forward,” King said he would begin streaming on Twitch again on Sept. 1 as part of what he is calling a “Year of Charity.” For the next 12 months, King plans to donate 100% of his proceeds to different charities, selecting a new one each month.
“Before you start looking at this as an excuse to sweep things under the rug, that’s not what this is,” he explained in his video. “I’m doing this to turn a negative situation with a lot of eyes on it into something positive that can help a lot of people.”
King did not address the details of the allegations that have been levied against him. Instead, he said he wanted to focus on what he can do in the future.
“I’ve learned a lot this past year,” King said. “I’m not seeking forgiveness nor am I looking to make excuses.”
Grooming Allegations Made Against CallMeCarson
In January, members of his YouTube group The Lunch Club told “DramaAlert” that in March of 2020, King had admitted to grooming underage fans. They claimed to not know many details but stated that his confession ultimately led to the group disbanding. One former member, known as “Slimecicle,” even said he reported Carson to authorities.
The victims themselves ended up coming forward online. One, who identified herself as Sam, said Carson sent her sexually suggestive messages in 2019 when he was 19 and she was 17. She also posted Discord messages the two exchanged where King said he could not “control” himself and asked when she turned 18.
Another girl, who went by CopiiCatt, said King sent her nude photos when she was 17 and he was 20.
Following this, King took a hiatus online, and now, his return has been met with mixed reactions.
His “Moving Forward” video has been viewed over 1.2 million times, receiving 252,000 likes and just 14,000 dislikes.
On Twitter, however, more people expressed frustration with his return and were upset by the swell of support for King despite the accusations against him.