- The Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, one of the UK’s biggest exam boards, dropped YouTuber and creator Zoe Sugg from their curriculum for the GCSE media studies exam because of the “adult” content she posts.
- Many assumed they did this because her lifestyle website, Zoella, recently posted about vibrators and sex toys.
- Sugg said that while she was unaware she was part of the curriculum, she was upset to be dropped because she thinks teen girls should learn about this type of sexual education, even though her website’s core audience is women 25 to 35-years-old.
- AQA put out a statement Monday explaining that they made their decision because all of her content is for her adults, not just because of one article. While they believe in the importance of sexual education, they do not think GCSE materials are the right place for it.
Zoella Removed From GCSE Materials
YouTuber Zoe Sugg wrote about the importance of sex education after the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, one of the biggest exam boards in the United Kingdom, removed her from the GCSE curriculum for posting “adult” content.
The GCSEs are academic qualification tests that high school-age students take on a number of subjects. Sugg and her lifestyle website, Zoella, are featured in a Close Studies Products booklet used by students taking the GCSE Media Studies course; however, she was removed from upcoming materials after parents expressed worries over her content.
Business Insider obtained a letter that AQA sent to teachers, which claimed that parents were concerned that “some of Zoella’s recent content is aimed specifically at an adult audience and not suitable for GCSE students.”
Sugg has been active on YouTube and other social media platforms for over a decade. She started posting beauty videos and her website now hosts articles on a variety of topics ranging from fashion and food, to chronic illnesses and menstruation, to what to do if you are a revenge porn victim. On Jan. 13, an article titled titled “The Best Sex Toys to Spice Up Your Life in 2021” went live on the site. Many believed this story in particular led to her being removed from GCSE materials.
Zoe Sugg Responds
Sugg responded Saturday, saying she was unaware that her content was even studied by students taking the media studies GCSE but was still frustrated to learn why it was being removed. She says her team has worked hard to write about all kinds of issues that impact women and believes they are worthy of discussion and attention.
“We’ve worked hard to include more women’s health, conversational articles, & basically just more grown up content as our main demographic is 25-35 year old females,” she said of the women that work on her website. “NOT 16 year olds.”
Sugg also said that had AQA looked at her website, it would have known this kind of content was popular there. Still, she thinks that this content should not be considered taboo for teens to see.
“I actually disagree that teens shouldn’t be learning about this stuff,” she wrote. “Maybe not in their bloody curriculum exam but how else are teenage girls going to find out more about being a woman? I WISH I had a website like @Zoella when I was growing up.”
She said that the article about sex toys, which she did not write herself and which was the effort of her team as a whole looking at popular products among women, is actually the most viewed piece on Zoella right now. On Sunday, she made another post discussing the controversy.
“Naturally as I have got older, my audience has grown up too & the things I want to share or shine a light on have naturally aged up to suit my lifestyle,” she wrote.
“It worries me that they think 16 year olds aren’t exploring their own bodies, doing this with someone else or know what a sex toy is,” Sugg continued. “Although we don’t aim our content at teens, I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it’s there for them to read at all.”
She then called out the numerous media outlets whose headlines attempted to turn the situation into a scandal. Sugg said those articles were “just perpetuating the fact that female pleasure is something that we should feel ashamed of.”
AQA Clarifies Decision
On Monday morning, AQA released an updated statement clarifying their choice to take Sugg and her website out of the curriculum. The organization first added her in 2017 and said that her content “has evolved and now includes a range of articles of a sexual nature — alongside many other topics — aimed at adults aged over 25.”
It said it was not one article in particular, but the overall themes and content on her website that led them to making this decision. AQA said that students 14-years-old and even younger might be using these materials, meaning mature content may not be appropriate.
“None of this is a judgement on Zoe Sugg, her work, or the suitability of her material for her target audience,” AQA continued. “As she’s pointed out herself, she wasn’t aware that children were studying her work for our course and we’ve never had any kind of relationship with her.”
“Effective relationships and sex education in schools is vitally important and we completely support it. All we’re saying is that we don’t think studying adult-focused lifestyle websites in GCSE Media Studies is the best way to do it.”
See what others are saying: (Business Insider) (Cosmopolitan) (The Independent)
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.