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Skincare Influencer Susan Yara Apologizes for Misleading Fans By Promoting Brand She Secretly Owned

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  • Susan Yara, the influencer behind Mixed Makeup, is facing intense scrutiny online after announcing her new skincare line, Naturium.
  • Fans are outraged because products have been on sale since February, and Yara promoted it for months without ever disclosing she was the owner, a violation of Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
  • In fact, Yara offered coupon codes and told fans she learned of the brand after receiving it in PR, only adding disclosures on old posts after backlash over her announcement poured in.
  • Yara has apologized for misleading fans, explaining that she did so to earn unbiased feedback from friends and customers. Still, many have promised to submit complaints to the FTC.

Naturium’s Launch

Skincare influencer Susan Yara is facing serious backlash after revealing that she was secretly the owner of a new product line that she’s been publicly promoting for months.

On June 21, Yara, who owns the Mixed Makeup YouTube channel, released a video announcing the line, Naturium. For many in the industry, this would be a big milestone, however, the news has been met with a ton of outage.

That’s because Naturium products have actually been available for purchase since February and Sunday’s announcement only revealed that Yara was Naturium’s owner.

While many customers have been loving the products, her followers took issue with the fact that she promoted them without disclosing her ties to the company.

As far as why she kept her ties to Naturium quiet, she said in her announcement video, “it was really important to me to get honest and true feedback from everyone. And I, you know, took a step back and I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m going to get that if I just announce this is my skincare line from the get-go.’”

She also said she delayed revealing it was her brand because of the cultural climate following the world-wide outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Conflicts of Interest

The conflict of interest caused fans to question her integrity as they reflected on how she had misled them.

Fans said Yara made it seem like the brand was an independent company that approached her for a sponsorship deal. Screenshots from as far back as April were shared, showing Yara writing to the Mixed Makeup Facebook group, “Fan of The Ordinary? I have found a better brand called Naturium… I just want you guys  to use better products. Don’t fight me! Haha.”

Screenshot taken on June 21st of Susan Yara’s Beauty Questions Answered by MIXED MAKEUP Facebook Group.

When one person asked her, “how did you find them?” Yara replied, “They sent me a PR mailer when they launched! It’s really good!”

In another exchange about a pending review of the brand, Yara wrote, “Been working on so many brand reviews, this one might be at the bottom of the list. I can say I like everything I’ve tried so far though.”

On her Mixed Makeup YouTube channel, she also promoted the brand with videos like, “4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend.” That video’s thumbnail even displays Naturium as the only featured product. Beyond that, there are other videos that feature Naturium as a reviewed product.

A screenshot taken of “4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I Recommend” – Taken June 24, 2020.

Because of all this, fans were upset at her lack of transparency, flooding Yara’s social media with angry comments. One comment under Sunday’s “announcement” video, for example, reads: “Wow… you clearly don’t respect your viewers or your customers. Shame on you for lying. I would have been so excited to try this skincare line if it hadn’t been completely tainted by your manipulation and deceit. How disappointing.”

Screenshot of a comment from Introducing Naturium: My New Skincare Brand! – Taken June 24, 2020

Aside from leaving a bad taste in her fans’ mouths, many say this brand-strategy may end up backfiring because it now could be a case for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Since 2017, the agency has kept a sharp eye out for social media influencers who don’t properly disclose when a post is paid content, or when someone owns a brand they are promoting. One case, in particular, that is reminiscent of Yara’s situation is CS:GO Lotto.

The owners of CS:GO Lotto essentially did what Yara just did. They owned a business and promoted it while pretending they stumbled across it and had no relation to the brand. That’s illegal according to the FTC ACT. and the owners of that CS:GO Lotto eventually settled with the agency in 2017.

Since then, the FTC has issued clear advertising guidelines for content creators. Such guidelines include points like, “Clearly DISCLOSE when you have a financial or family relationship with a brand.” or “Ensure your sponsorship disclosure is HARD TO MISS,” among others.

The Do's and Don'ts of Social Media Influencers
FTC Influencer Guidelines. Via the Federal Trade Commission

At first glace, it doesn’t seem that Yara properly followed these guidelines, and in response, fans have allegedly been sending the FTC complaints.

Backtracking

After receiving backlash, Yara seems to have been trying to do some damage control by responding to comments on Instagram and apologizing for deceiving fans.

She also, according to Beauty Independent, released a statement saying, “I validated my true love for my brand as a reason to post. My intent was never to deceive my followers… In hindsight I should have waited to promote anything from the line until we were ready to announce my involvement.”

“I realize some of my viewers are disappointed in my strategy and I believe their feelings are justified,” she continued. “This has been an incredibly valuable lesson for me and my team. I’m very sorry if anyone felt I was manipulative, but I can assure you my intentions were good. I know that doesn’t make the situation better, so I apologize whole-heartedly.’

Beyond just apologizing to fans, Yara has gone back to every video on her channel that featured Naturium and added a disclaimer to the bottom of each description box.

“DISCLAIMER: I am a co-founder of NATURIUM and this description may contain affiliate links for a small commission on purchased products,” it reads. “Affiliate links support our channel, so we can continue to make fun videos for you. Thanks for watching and shopping!”

Screenshot of video description from 4 Affordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend – Taken June 24, 2020

However, while parts of Yara’s disclaimer existed before Sunday, the addition of “I am a co-founder of NATURIUM” was only added after Sunday’s backlash. Even with this edition, the post doesn’t comply with the FTC’s guidelines.

Part of the guidelines dictate that posts, “Don’t rely on disclosures that people will see only if they click “more,” but in order to properly see this disclaimer, a user would need to do just that.

Screen of video description froAffordable Vitamin C Serums I recommend – Taken June 24, 2020

Currently, there is no word on whether or not the FTC will take action, but it does, Yara could be liable for upwards of $40,000 per infringing post.

Others Dragged In

For a lot of fans, there’s still another issue with this entire ordeal: whether or not other influencers who reviewed the products knew about Yara’s involvement.

This list included people featured in the announcement video like Hyram, James Welsh,  Liah Yoo, and the channel Beauty Within. Yet, based on Yara’s announcement video, no one else knew it was her brand.

In an Instagram story Yara published Monday, she tried to shut down this claim, writing, “Hi everyone. I have seen the comments come through today and I’m very sorry I upset you… I can assure you no one knew about my involvement with NATURUM when they posted about the brand.”

Screenshot of @susanyara – Susan Yara’s Instagram Live Story – Taken June 23, 2020

Yara also added, “It was insinuated in a live today content creators knew more and that is completely false information.” Many fans thought this was a reference to Caroline Hirons, another skincare expert on the platform who hosted an hour-log Instagram live stream also on Monday. However, at no point in that stream did Hirons hint that anyone else knew.

She also added that she would be releasing a video on the topic “soon,” but as of June 24, no such video has been released.

A previous version of this story stated that Caroline Hirons insinuated in an hour-long live stream that other creators knew Susan Yara owned Nutrium. That is not the case, and this article has been updated to reflect that.

See What Others Are Saying: (Beauty Independent) (Daily Dot)

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Twitch Sues Two Users for Creating Hate Raid Bots That Targeted Black and LGBTQ+ Streamers

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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)

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Streamers Protest Racist and Homophobic Hate Raids With #ADayOffTwitch

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The creators participating in the walkout want Twitch to implement policies that actively combat hate-raiding.


#ADayOffTwitch

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. 

Source: @RekItRaven

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.

Protesters’ Demands

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.

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Engadget) (NBC News)

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CallMeCarson Announces Return to Streaming Following Grooming Allegations

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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.” 


CallMeCarson Returns

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. 

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Dot Esports) (HITC)

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