Connect with us

Industry

Google and YouTube Fight Australia’s Plans to Make Them Pay for News

Published

on

  • Last month, Australia rolled out a draft rule that would require Google and Facebook to pay news outlets for their content.
  • Regulators claimed the move would help news organizations that were struggling due to falling ad revenue after an inquiry found that for every $100 spent in online advertising, nearly half went to Google and almost a quarter went to Facebook.
  • Google used its homepage in Australia to lobby people against the proposal in a popup that linked to an open letter. The letter claimed the rule would hurt Google and YouTube, put their free services at risk, and could lead to personal data being given to news organizations.
  • In a blog post also published Monday, YouTube made similar arguments and also claimed the move would hurt small creators.
  • Australia’s consumer protection agency disputed the claims and accused Google of spreading “misinformation” in its letter.

Google Lobbies Against Proposed Rule

Google published an open letter Monday alerting users about a proposed law in Australia that would require Google and Facebook to pay news media outlets for news content. 

Millions of Australians who visited their local Google homepage received a popup alert which warned that Google’s search engine was at risk of being hurt by a new regulation. That alert linked then links Google users to the company’s letter.

Source: The Verge

The letter references a draft regulation called the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code, which was first rolled out last month. Regulators argued that the new rule was needed to level the playing field for news media organizations, which have for years argued that Facebook and Google should pay them for displaying their content.

In Australia in particular, many news outlets were struggling to stay afloat even before the pandemic because ad revenues have fallen. According to estimates from the Australian Newsroom Mapping Project, since January 2019, over 200 newsrooms have reduced service, closed temporarily, or shut down permanently. 

In 2019, a government-lead inquiry that found both Google and Facebook were taking a disproportionate share of ad revenue despite the fact that a lot of their ad content came from news media organizations.

According to The Guardian, the inquiry found that for every $100 spent in online advertising, nearly half of that, or $47, went to Google alone. Facebook took in nearly a quarter at $24, and just $29 went to the rest.

Both Google and Facebook have expressed concerns and opposition to the draft legislation, but Google has taken a much more hardline response.

Google’s Open Letter

In the letter published Monday, Google argued that the proposed regulation “would force us to provide you with a dramatically worse Google Search and YouTube, could lead to your data being handed over to big news businesses, and would put the free services you use at risk in Australia.”

The letter goes on to claim that the rule would give news companies an “unfair advantage” because they would be “given information that would help them artificially inflate their ranking over everyone else.”

“The proposed changes are not fair and they mean that Google Search results and YouTube will be worse for you,” it stated.

Google also said that the rule would require it to tell news businesses how they can access data about how users utilize their products, and argued, “There’s no way of knowing if any data handed over would be protected, or how it might be used by news media businesses.” 

The company additionally claimed in the letter that it already partners with Australian news media, pays them “millions of dollars,” and sends them “billions of free clicks every year.”

“The law is set up to give big media companies special treatment and to encourage them to make enormous and unreasonable demands that would put our free services at risk,” it added.

YouTube’s Blog Post

YouTube also condemned the rule in a blog post published Monday, where the company reiterated many of the same points Google had brought up about preferential treatment and data sharing, broadly claiming it would “have negative consequences for the YouTube Community.”

“There are several areas that deeply concern us about this proposed law because it prioritises the traditional news industry over smaller creators of content and the platforms where they find an audience,” the blog post continued. “We are particularly concerned that it provides unfair advantages to large news businesses over anyone else online, including the very creators that make YouTube, YouTube.” 

The post then goes on to make the same argument Google made about giving publishers information that could inflate their ratings, which it claimed meant that creators “could receive fewer views and earn less.” 

YouTube also argued the law will “create an uneven playing field when it comes to who makes money on YouTube.”

“Through this law, big news businesses can demand large amounts of money above and beyond what they earn on the platform, leaving fewer funds to invest in you, our creators, and the programmes to help you develop your audience in Australia and around the globe,” it added.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Responds

In a statement responding to Google’s open letter Monday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accused the company of spreading “misinformation” in its letter.

“Google will not be required to charge Australians for the use of its free services such as Google Search and YouTube, unless it chooses to do so,” it said. “Google will not be required to share any additional user data with Australian news businesses unless it chooses to do so.”

Rather, the statement explained, the draft regulation would simply “allow Australian news businesses to negotiate for fair payment for their journalists’ work that is included on Google services” and “address a significant bargaining power imbalance between Australian news media businesses and Google and Facebook.”

The ACCC’s statement concluded by noting that the agency will continue to consult on the draft with interested parties, including Google, until the consultation period ends on Aug. 28. 

See what others are saying: (The Verge) (CNN) (Reuters)

Industry

TikTok and Twitter Are Now Deleting Videos That Expose Closeted Olympians on Grindr

Published

on

On top of outing people who may not be ready to have their sexuality revealed to the world, these videos could have endangered LGBTQ+ athletes from countries where homosexuality is illegal.


Closeted Olympians Being Doxxed

Openly LGBTQ+ Olympians are currently more visible than they have ever been before, but unfortunately, so are closeted ones.

That’s because some people have been using the LGBTQ+ dating app Grindr to try and find Olympians. They’ve been doing so by using the app’s “Explore” feature, which allows people to search and see users in specific locations (ie. Olympic Village).

But some aren’t content with just discovering which athletes belong to the LGBTQ+ community. They’re also sharing that information on platforms like TikTok and Twitter. 

“I used Grindr’s explore feature to find myself [an] Olympian boyfriend,” one TikTok user said in a post that had been viewed 140,000 times, according to Insider

That video reportedly went on to show the poster scrolling through Grindr to expose over 30 users’ full faces. 

As many have argued, not only does this potentially out already-stressed Olympians who may not yet be comfortable sharing their sexuality, it also could put some users at serious risk if they live in countries where being LGBTQ+ is illegal. 

In fact, the video cited by Insider seemingly did just that, as it reportedly shows the face of a user who appears to be from a country “known for its anti-LGBTQ policies.”

Grindr Responds, TikTok and Twitter Take Action

In response, Grindr said the posts violate its rules against “publicly displaying, publishing, or otherwise distributing any content or information” from the app. It then asked the posters to remove the content.

Ultimately, it was TikTok and Twitter themselves that largely took action, with the two deleting at least 14 posts scattered across their platforms.

A Highly-Visible LGBTQ+ Presence at the Games 

According to Outsports, at least 172 of around 11,000 Olympians are openly LGBTQ+. While that number is still well below the statistical average, it’s triple the number of LGBTQ+ athletes that attended Rio’s 2016 Games.

In fact, if they were their own country, openly LGBTQ+ athletes would reportedly rank 11th in medals, according to an Outsports report published Tuesday. 

Among those winners is British diver Tom Daley, who secured his first gold medal on Monday and used his platform to send a hopeful message to LGBTQ+ youth by telling them, “You are not alone.”

After winning a silver medal on Wednesday, U.S. swimmer Erica Sullivan talked about her experience as both a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a person of color. 

Still, the Olympics has faced criticism for its exclusion of intersex individuals, particularly those like South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya, who won gold medals in both 2012 and 2016. Rules implemented in 2019 now prevent Semenya from competing as a woman without the use of medication to suppress her testosterone levels. 

See what others are saying: (Insider) (Pink News) (Out)

Continue Reading

Industry

Jake Paul Launches Anti-Bullying Charity

Published

on

The charity, called Boxing Bullies, aims to use the sport to give kids confidence and courage.


Jake Paul Launches Boxing Bullies Foundation

YouTuber Jake Paul — best known as the platform’s boxer, wreckless partier, and general troublemaker — has seemingly launched a non-profit to combat bullying.  

The charity is called Boxing Bullies. According to a mission statement posted on Instagram, it aims to “instill self confidence, leadership, and courage within the youth through the sport of boxing while using our platform, voice, and social media to fight back against bullying.”

If the notion of a Paul-founded anti-bullying charity called “Boxing Bullies” was not already begging to be compared to former First Lady Melania Trump’s “Best Best” initiative, maybe the group’s “Boxing Bullies Commandments” will help connect the dots. Those commandments use an acronym for the word “BOX” to spell out the charity’s golden rules.

Be kind to everyone; Only defend, never initiate; X-out bullying.” 

Paul Hopes To “Inspire” Kids To Stand Up For Themselves

Paul first said he was launching Boxing Bullies during a July 13 interview following a press conference for his upcoming fight against Tyron Woodley.

“I know who I am at the end of the day, which is a good person,” he told reporters. “I’m trying to change this sport, bring more eyeballs. I’m trying to support other fighters, increase fighter pay. I’m starting my charity, I’m launching that in 12 days here called Boxing Bullies and we’re helping to fight against cyberbullying.”

It has not been quite 12 days since the interview, so it’s likely that more information about the organization will be coming soon. Currently, the group has been the most active on Instagram, where it boasts a following of just around 1,200 followers. It has posted once to Twitter, where it has 32 followers; and has a TikTok account that has yet to publish any content. It also has a website, though there is not too much on it as of yet.

On its Instagram, one post introducing Paul as the founder claims the rowdy YouTuber started this charity because he has been on the receiving end of bullying.

Having been a victim of bullying himself, Jake experienced firsthand the impact it has on a person’s life,” the post says. “Jake believes that this is a prevailing issue in society that isn’t talked about enough. Boxing gave Jake the confidence to not care about what others think and he wants to share the sport and the welfare it‘s had on him with as many kids as possible.”

It adds that he hopes his group can“inspire the next generation of kids to be leaders, be athletes, and to fight back against bullying.”

Paul Previously Accused of Being a Bully

While fighting against bullying is a noble cause, it is an ironic project for Paul to start, as he has faced no shortage of bullying accusations. While Paul previously sang about “stopping kids from getting bullied” in the lunchroom, some have alleged he himself was actually a classic high school bully who threw kids’ backpacks into garbage cans. 

This behavior allegedly continued into his adulthood, as a New York Times report from earlier this year claimed he ran his Team 10 house with a culture of toxicity and bullying. Among other things, sources said he involved others in violent pranks, pressured people into doing dangerous stunts, and destroyed peoples’ personal property to make content.

Earlier this year, Paul was also accused of sexual assault, though he denied those allegations.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto)

Continue Reading

Industry

Director Defends Recreating Anthony Bourdain’s Voice With AI in New Documentary

Published

on

The film’s director claims he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent, but on Thursday, Bourdain’s widow publicly denied ever giving that permission. 


Bourdain’s Voice Recreated

“You are successful, and I am successful, and I’m wondering: Are you happy?” Anthony Bourdain says in a voiceover featured in “Roadrunnner,” a newly released documentary about the late chef — except Bourdain never actually said those words aloud.

Instead, it’s one of three lines in the film, which features frequent voiceovers from Bourdain, that were created through the use of artificial intelligence technology.

That said, the words are Bourdain’s own. In fact, they come from an email Bourdain reportedly wrote to a friend prior to his 2018 suicide. Nonetheless, many have now questioned whether recreating Bourdain’s voice was ethical, especially since documentaries are meant to reflect reality.

Director Defends Use of AI Voice

The film’s director, Academy Award winner Morgan Neville, has defended his use of the synthetic voice, telling Variety that he received permission from Bourdain’s estate and literary agent before inserting the lines into the film. 

“There were a few sentences that Tony wrote that he never spoke aloud,” Neville said. “It was a modern storytelling technique that I used in a few places where I thought it was important to make Tony’s words come alive.” 

Bourdain’s widow — Ottavia Bourdain, who is the executor of his estate — later denied Neville’s claim on Twitter, saying, “I certainly was NOT the one who said Tony would have been cool with that.”

In another interview with GQ, Neville described the process, saying the film’s creators “fed more than ten hours of Tony’s voice into an AI model.”

“The bigger the quantity, the better the result,” he added. “We worked with four companies before settling on the best.”

“If you watch the film,” Neville told The New Yorker, “you probably don’t know what the other lines are that were spoken by the AI, and you’re not going to know. We can have a documentary-ethics panel about it later.” 

The Ethics Debate Isn’t Being Tabled

But many want to have that discussion now.

Boston-based film critic Sean Burns, who gave the film a rare negative review, later criticized it again for its unannounced use of AI, saying he wasn’t aware that Bourdain’s voice had been recreated until after he watched the documentary.  

Meanwhile, The New Yorker’s Helen Rosner wrote that the “seamlessness of the effect is eerie.”

“If it had been a human voice double I think the reaction would be “huh, ok,” but there’s something truly unsettling about the idea of it coming from a computer,” Rosner later tweeted. 

Online, many others have criticized the film’s use of AI, with some labeling it as a “deepfake.”

Others have offered more mixed criticism, saying that while the documentary highlights the need for posthumous AI use to be disclosed, it should not be ruled out altogether. 

“In a world where the living could consent to using AI to reproduce their voices posthumously, and where people were made aware that such a technology was being used, up front and in advance, one could envision that this kind of application might serve useful documentary purposes,” David Leslie, ethics lead at the Alan Turing Institute, told the BBC.

Celebrities Recreated After Death

The posthumous use of celebrity likeness in media is not a new debate. In 2012, a hologram of Tupac took the stage 15 years after his death. In 2014, the Billboard Music Awards brought a hologram of Michael Jackson onstage five years after his death. Meanwhile, the Star Wars franchise digitally recreated actor Peter Cushing in 2016’s “Rogue One,” and unused footage of actress Carrie Fisher was later translated into “The Rise of Skywalker,” though a digital version of Fisher was never used.

In recent years, it has become almost standard for filmmakers to say that they will not create digital versions of characters whose actors die unexpectedly. For example, several months after Chadwick Boseman’s death last year, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” executive producer Victoria Alonso confirmed Boseman would not be digitally recreated for his iconic role as King T’Challa.

See what others are saying: (BBC) (Yahoo! News) (Variety)

Continue Reading