- YouTube has reinstated monetization on conservative commentator Steven Crowder’s channel after banning him from running ads on his videos for 14 months.
- Crowder’s channel was demonetized in June 2019 after he made homophobic and racist remarks against then-Vox writer Carlos Maza.
- Thursday morning, Crowder cheered the decision in a video while also attacking those who had called for his channel to be outright banned, saying, “All of [your] victories are gone.”
- Meanwhile, in a lengthy Twitter post, Maza blasted the decision, arguing against YouTube’s claim that Crowder is no longer posting content that violates the platform’s anti-hate policies.
- Currently, YouTube has monetized a controversial video on Crowder’s channel where he promotes a conspiracy theory that COVID-19 death numbers have been inflated.
YouTube Lifts Crowder Ad Ban
YouTube has lifted its ad ban on conservative commentator Steven Crowder channel after enforcing it for 14 months.
The platform removed monetization from his channel on June 5, 2019, several days after openly gay Vox writer Carlos Maza accused Crowder of making a number of homophobic and racist comments about him on Crowder’s show Louder with Crowder.
In a now-deleted montage posted to Twitter by Maza, Crowder can be seen calling Maza “our favorite lispy sprite from Vox,” “a gay Latino from vox,” and “a tranny.” At the time, Crowder’s channel also linked to a shop that sold shirts with the words: “Socialism is for fags.”
When it banned Crowder, YouTube clarified that the ad ban was likely only temporary. In fact, the platform said it could remonetize his channel once he removed links to a store selling a shirt with a homophobic slur and addressed “all of the issues with his channel.”
On Wednesday, YouTube said that Crowder has complied with those requirements, noting that he took down his videos about Maza in December when a new harassment policy was launched. The platform also said he agreed to no longer link to his controversial shirt.
In a statement to media outlets, a YouTube spokesperson said Crowder has “taken steps to address the behavior that led to his suspension and has demonstrated a track record of policy-compliant behavior.”
“Creators who are suspended from [YouTube Partner Program] can reapply for access, and after careful consideration, we will be reinstating him into the program today. If there are further violations on this channel we will take appropriate action.”
That spokesperson also reiterated that while the platform still believes he posts controversial content, none of that has been found to be policy non-compliant.
Crowder: “All of [your] victories are gone.”
Thursday morning, Crowder cheered the decision on Louder with Crowder while also biting back at his critics.
“I know that the left was furious with the Vox adpocalypse, right?” he said. “You wanted us to be banned. That didn’t happen. You wanted to claim that we violated policies. That didn’t happen.“
“You wanted us to apologize, and that did happen for 26 minutes, I believe, if you watch that whole video. And then, your only win was, ‘At least we made sure that Louder with Crowder, that they will cease to make a living on YouTube.’”
“That was the one win on the scoreboard for you guys. It was, you were one and six. Now, you have to wipe off the one, and put your mouth on the table so all your friends just smack you for misbehaving. That’s about what you got. All of the victories are gone. I understand. I understand that we could be demonetized tomorrow, but we don’t care. Our conversation with YouTube has always been, we just want to have a fair shake on the platform.”
At the time ads were banned from his channel, Crowder had about 3.8 million subscribers. As of August 2019, he has 4.63 million subscribers.
Maza: “YouTube’s policies were never actually meant to be enforced.”
In a lengthy Twitter post, Maza blasted YouTube’s decision to remonetize Crowder’s channel. In fact, even when Maza first accused Crowder of harassment in 2019, he said that his anger was more directed at YouTube’s enforcement of its own policies rather than Crowder himself.
“Demonetizing was already insufficient, but this decision proves that YouTube has no real interest in enforcing its anti-hate policies,” Maza said Wednesday.
Particularly, Maza argued against the idea that Crowder’s videos have been policy compliant recently. To that point, he cited several examples, including a video where Crowder pushes a COVID-19 conspiracy theory of an inflated death count, another where he calls the Black Lives Matter movement a domestic terrorist organization, as well as others he titled “why” and “when transgenders attack.”
“These are all in violation of YouTube’s policies,” Maza said. Not a single one has been removed.”
“YouTube’s anti-hate speech policies clearly and plainly prohibit all of this stuff,” he added. “The fact that Crowder is being re-monetized, despite repeated rule-breaking, shows how YouTube’s policies were never actually meant to be enforced.”
In a statement to Business Insider, a YouTube spokesperson refused to comment on those examples directly; instead, she clarified that not all of Crowder’s videos might qualify to be monetized and that some may remain demonetized if they don’t meet YouTube’s ad policies.
As of Thursday morning, at least one of those videos — the one pushing the idea of inflated COVID-19 death counts — is running ads.
Since May 2019, Maza has openly accused YouTube of making glaring exceptions to policies for its largest creators. The reason? According to Maza, it’s all driven by money.
“I said it last June, and I’ll say it again,” Maza said Wednesday. “YouTube has a tremendous profit incentive to keep hate speech on the platform. Hate performs well and drives up the company’s numbers.”
Still, YouTube has demonetized much bigger creators than Crowder, whether temporarily or indefinitely. For example, Logan Paul was demonetized for two weeks following his suicide forest scandal. Currently, Shane Dawson has been indefinitely demonetized following a series of massive scandals that have rocked the beauty community. In both cases, as well as Crowder’s, demonetization only occurred after heavy public outcry.
In his Twitter thread, Maza went on to say that YouTube won’t change its policies as long as it continues to “lure advertisers with high engagement numbers.”
He then encouraged creators to “refuse to participate in company promo material, speak publicly against the platform at every opportunity, and support a creators’ union,” even saying “Large creators need to unionize and threaten the company’s bottom line.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Business Insider) (Mashable)
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.