YouTube Family Vlogger Petitions FTC Ahead of 2020 COPPA Enforcement
- 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)
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.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Associated Press) (People)
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.