Tag Archives: YouTube

YouTube’s Recommendations Are Leading Kids To Gun Videos

YouTube’s recommendations are leading young kids to videos about school shootings and other gun-related content, according to a new report, Engadget reported. According to the Tech Transparency Project (TTP), a nonprofit watchdog group, YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is “pushing boys interested in video games to scenes of school shootings, instructions on how to use and modify weapons” and other gun-centric content.

The researchers behind the report set up four new YouTube accounts posing as two 9-year-old boys and two 14-year-old boys. All accounts watched playlists of content about popular video games, like Roblox, Lego Star Wars, and Grand Theft Auto. The researchers then tracked the accounts’ recommendations during a 30-day period last November.

“The study found that YouTube pushed content on shootings and weapons to all of the gamer accounts, but at a much higher volume to the users who clicked on the YouTube-recommended videos,” the TTP writes. “These videos included scenes depicting school shootings and other mass shooting events; graphic demonstrations of how much damage guns can inflict on a human body; and how-to guides for converting a handgun to a fully automatic weapon.”

In a statement, a YouTube spokesperson pointed to the YouTube Kids app and its in-app supervision tools, which “create a safer experience for tweens and teens” on its platform, Engadget reported.

“We welcome research on our recommendations, and we’re exploring more ways to bring in academic researchers to study out systems,” the spokesperson said. “But in reviewing this report’s methodology, it’s difficult for us to draw strong conclusions. For example, the study doesn’t provide context of how many overall videos were recommended to the test accounts, and also doesn’t give insight into how the test accounts were set up, including whether YouTube’s Supervised Experiences tools were applied.”

The Associated Press reported that the test accounts simulated two nine-year-olds who both liked video games. The accounts were identical, except that one clicked on the videos recommend by YouTube, and the other ignored the platform’s suggestions.

According to The Associated Press, the account that clicked on YouTube’s suggestions was soon flooded with graphic videos about school shootings, tactical gun training videos, and how-to instructions on making firearms fully automatic. One video features an elementary school-age girl wielding a handgun; another showed a shooter using a .50 caliber gun to fire on a dummy head filled with lifelike blood and brains. Many of the videos violate YouTube’s own policies against violent or gory content.

The Tech Transparency Project provided key points from its report:

  • YouTube recommended hundreds of videos about guns and gun violence to accounts for boys interested in video games, according to a new study.
  • Some of the recommended videos gave instructions on how to convert guns into automatic weapons or depicted school shootings.
  • The gamer accounts that watched the YouTube-recommended videos got served a much higher volume of gun-and shooting-related content.
  • Many of the videos violated YouTube’s own policies on firearms, violence, and child safety, and YouTube took no apparent steps to age-restrict them.
  • YouTube also recommended a movie about serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to minor accounts, the study found.

According to the report, between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30, YouTube pushed 382 real firearms videos to the nine-year-old engagement account – an average of more than 12 per day. The videos includes graphic demonstrations of what high-powered weapons can do to a human torso or human head. YouTube served far fewer weapons videos – 34 – to the gamer of the same age who did not watch the recommendations.

During the same 30-day period, the report stated, YouTube served 1,325 real firearms videos to the 14-year-old engagement account – an average of more than 44 per day. The videos features shooting scenes and “how-tos” for using or modifying firearms. By contrast, the 14-year-old account that did not click on the recommended content got 172 weapons videos.

In my opinion, parents who have children between the ages of 9 and 14 should take steps to prevent their children and teens from seeing a flood of weapon-related videos. YouTube recommends the YouTube Kids app, and its in-app supervision tools.

YouTube Tests Blocking Videos Unless You Disable Ad Blockers

YouTube is running an experiment asking some users to disable their ad blockers or pay for a premium subscription, or they will not be allowed to watch videos, BleepingComputer reported.

As first spotted by a Reddit user this week,YouTube will display a pop-up warning some users that “ad blockers are not allowed”. “It looks like you may be using an ad blocker. Ads allow YouTube to stay free for billions of users worldwide,” the message adds.

Upon receiving this notification, users will have two options: either disable their ad blocker to allow YouTube ads or consider subscribing to YouTube Premium to get rid of all advertisements. As explained in the pop-up, “you can go ad-free with YouTube Premium, and creators can still get paid from your subscription.”

A YouTube spokesperson confirmed this experiment and said the company urges viewers to try YouTube Premium or allow ads on the platform.

“We’re running a small experiment globally that urges viewers with ad blockers enabled to allow ads on YouTube or try YouTube Premium,” the spokesperson told BleepingComputer. “Ad blocker detection is not new, and other publishers regularly ask viewers to disable ad blockers.”

IGN reported that Google has announced that it has begun experimenting with a feature that blocks users who have an ad blocker enabled on YouTube.

The initiative was first pointed out by Redditor Sazk100, who posted a screenshot a few days ago which mentions that ad blockers are no longer allowed on YouTube. The pop-up mentions that those that are using an ad blocker will not be allowed to watch videos on the platform unless they enable ads on YouTube or subscribe to YouTube Premium, which includes access to original programming on the platform and the ability to download videos while removing ads.

A YouTube employee also confirmed to a moderator on the YouTube subreddit that the feature is just an “experiment” that the team is currently working on.

According to IGN, Google testing out a feature that curbs ad blockers on YouTube should come as no surprise, especially with YouTube ads becoming more intrusive in recent years. Last year, the company did an experiment that forced users to watch a long chain of short and unstoppable ads.

Elsewhere creators have seen a steady decline in ad revenue, beginning with 2017’s infamous “Adpocalypse.” Many have turned to Patreon and other means in order to make up the shortfalls.

9To5 Google reported that a YouTube employee has since confirmed to the r/YouTube moderation team that, for now, this is just an “experiment”. For now, YouTube is only testing blocking ad blockers.

Really, it’s easy to see why YouTube might enact such a rule, 9to5 Google reported. Ad blockers strip away income generated from videos which pays for the ever-increasing storage and bandwidth needs of that content. But, at the same time, user frustration is also pretty clear. YouTube has been escalating its ad load tremendously in recent years, and YouTube Premium isn’t particularly affordable for occasional viewers at $10/month.

As for me, I started paying for YouTube Premium a while ago, because I find ads to be extremely intrusive and annoying. The subscription costs $10 a month, which feels like a reasonable amount for someone like me who posts a lot of content on YouTube. However, I also understand most people don’t use YouTube the way I do.

YouTube Adds 5 Premium Features

YouTube posted on its Official Blog “5 Premium features to up your YouTube game.” For more control and access, to ads-free, offline, background play and an uninterrupted music listening experience, here are some of our latest Premium features for pro-users – including new updates you can try out today.

Are you making the most of your YouTube Premium subscription? Whether you’re newly subscribed or have long been a part of the 80 million Premium members and trailers who enjoy exclusive features and benefits that allow for an even more immersive YouTube experience, there’s always something new for you to best take advantage of all we’ve got to offer. From more control and access, to ads-free, offline, background play and an uninterrupted music listening experience, here are some of our latest Premium features for pro-users – including new updates you can try out today.

Take control of what to watch with queuing on your phone or tablet

Are you the type who likes to jump from a Bad Bunny music video to the latest episode of Overtime from Dude Perfect? Queuing puts the control back in your hands allowing you to decide exactly what video you want to play next. Today, for Premium users, we’re expanding queuing to phones and tablets, giving you complete control over what you’re watching.

Watch YouTube together on Android and iOS

The only thing better than watching your favorite YouTube videos is sharing that moment with other people. That’s why we recently made sharing even easier. Through Meet Live Sharing on Android devices, Premium members can host Google Meet sessions where all attendees, regardless of whether they are Premium or free uses, can watch YouTube videos together. In the coming weeks, we’re also rolling out this experience for FaceTime users on iOS via SharePlay. No matter where your friends and family are, you can experience the joy of YouTube together.

Jump back into YouTube across devices

Sometimes, live can get in the way of your YouTube viewing. Maybe your morning commute ends before you’ve finished that new podcast episode. Perhaps you need to switch to that cooking tutorial from your laptop to your tablet in the kitchen. Now available on Android, iOS and the Web, Premium members can continue watching YouTube videos wherever they previously left off even as they switch between devices, allowing you to jump back in without a single interruption.

Keep the YouTube experience going when you’re offline

We understand that our users may not always be connected to the internet, but that doesn’t mean it should stop your YouTube Premium experience. With Smart Downloads, while you’re connected to Wi-Fi, we automatically add recommended videos straight to your library, ready for you offline viewing. Forgot to download your favorite content before boarding that long flight? Don’t worry! With this new feature you can watch videos on-the-go, whenever you want, while also discovering new content without the hassle of searching.

Enhance your video quality on iOS

To provide an even higher video quality experience for our Premium members, in the coming weeks we’ll be launching an enhanced bitrate version of 1080p HD video quality starting on iOS (and an experiment coming to Web soon too.) While all users will still have access to 1080p, this enhanced 1080p quality setting will look extra crips and clear, especially for videos with lost of detail and motion. Whether your an avid sports fan or locked in on the latest gaming videos, this new feature will bring an even deeper visual quality to our members!

I use YouTube’s Premium features, mostly because it enables me to make music playlists that don’t include ads in between the songs. I also post gameplay videos to a separate YouTube channel. I’m not likely to use these new features, but I’m certain that some people will use them all.

YouTube Music Lets Users Create Custom Radio Stations

YouTube Music is introducing a new radio experience that lets users create their own custom stations, the company told TechCrunch on Tuesday. Prior to the launch of this feature, users had started music listening experiences by picking from preexisting playlists, radios, or albums, but now users can create their own radios from the ground up.

According to TechCrunch, with this new experience, you can pick up to 30 artists when creating your own radio station. You can also choose how frequently these artists appear and apply filters that change the mood of the station. The experience lets you choose if you want the radio to include only the artists you’ve selected if you also want content from a broader set of similar artists as well. There’s also the option to refine your results further by using specific filters, such as “new discoveries” or “chill songs.”

Popular music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music offer radio features that allow users to create playlists based on a specific song or artists, but they don’t offer additional customization beyond that point. YouTube Music’s redesigned radio experience gives users a lot more flexibility than its competitors.

The Verge reported that the new YouTube feature, called the “Radio Builder,” started rolling our on Tuesday and can be accessed by scrolling to the “Your music tuner” section of the YouTube Music homepage in the iOS or Android app.

According to The Verge, when building your custom station, you can select up to 30 artists and choose whether you want to only hear music from them or if you want to pull in songs from similar musicians. You can also tell it to play songs that you’re familiar with, new-to-you songs, or a mix of the two and add filters, letting you tune the mix.

You can use the feature, which will be available anywhere you can get YouTube Music, whether you’re a paying subscriber or a free user, according to Google spokesperson Paul Pennington.

9to5Google reported that YouTube Music’s “Create a radio” feature lets you build stations “from the ground up, by combining key music building blocks such as artists and common music descriptions to whether the user wants songs that are discoveries, or chill songs, for example. This feature was spotted in testing at the end of last year.

From the Home feed, scroll until you find the “Create a radio” card that’s labeled as “Your Music Tuner.” You are then presented with an endless grid of artists, with the ability to pick 30. Afterward, you determine whether the “Song selection” – or “frequency of those artists” – should be: Familiar, Blend, or Discover.

9to5Google also reported that you have “Filters” for Popular, Deep cuts, and New releases, as well as Pump-up, Chill, Upbeat, Downbeat, and Focus. Sometimes, YouTube Music will note when there are “No songs to play” and you have to try different options.

When your Custom Radio Station is complete, you’ll get an “always updating” radio using the new layout. The playlist is named after the selected artists and characteristics. You can manually save this radio by using “Add to library” next to the play button.

As someone who makes a whole lot of themed playlists on YouTube, I think the custom radio stations feature is interesting. That said, I’m having a lot of fun making themed playlists on one of my YouTube channels, and don’t feel a need to make a YouTube radio just yet.

YouTube Says: “Ready, Set, Shop!”

YouTube announced that it is launching a new partnership with Shopify and giving all eligible creators access to live shopping tools. A YouTube Official Blog post is titled: “Ready, Set, Shop on YouTube”, and was written by Vice President Shopping Product, David Katz.

…We know that creators and viewers have a unique relationship and it’s this trust between them that helps inform what viewers ultimately buy. In fact, according to a study we ran in partnership with Publicis and TalkShoppe, 89% of viewers agree that YouTube creators give recommendations they can trust, so it’s important that everything that we’re working on in YouTube Shopping is in support of ensuring a seamless viewer and creator experience.

The post also says that YouTube knows that creators spend a lot of time building a business and developing their products, so they want to make it even easier for them to connect and manage their stores on YouTube and bring their products directly to their audience.

Starting next week, YouTube will introduce a new shopping destination in the explore tab that will feature stoppable relevant content for viewers in the US, Brazil and India, with additional countries to roll out later this year.

Creators who link their stores can display their products across their channel and benefit from Shopify’s real-time inventory synching so that viewers are never disappointed to find a product out of stock. And, for a more seamless shopping experience, creators in the US can enable onsite checkout so that viewer can complete their purchases without leaving YouTube.

Shopify provides more information about the partnership with YouTube

Shopify is the retail operating system for merchants and creators selling across multiple channels, making it easy to manage their commerce business from one place. Shopify merchants can sell their full range of products on YouTube in three ways:

Live streams: Merchants can tag and pin products at key points during a livestream, and picture-in-picture playback means consumers can watch while they check out.

Videos: Merchants can show a curated list of products in a product shelf below on-demand videos.

Store Tab: A new tab will be added to a merchant’s YouTube channel, featuring their entire selection of products.

Reuters reported that Shopify has also partnered with TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.

Variety reported that to be eligible for YouTube’s shopping features, users must meet certain minimum requirements: Those include: the channel must be approved for monetization; if the channel is a music channel, it has to be an officially certified artist channel; if its not a music channel, it has to have more than 10,000 subscribers; and the channel’s audience must not have a “significant number” of videos designated as made for kids.

In short, if your YouTube channel has not hit those requirements – you won’t be allowed to receive the perks from the YouTube – Shopify partnership. The vast majority of YouTube creators will not benefit from this partnership at all.

YouTube Has Blocked Russia’s Parliamentary Channel’s Account

Reuters reported that YouTube has blocked Duma TV, which broadcasts from Russia’s lower house of parliament, drawing an angry response from officials who said the world’s most popular streaming service could face restrictions in response.

According to Reuters, a message on YouTube said the Duma channel had been “terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.” YouTube (owned by Alphabet, Inc.) had been under pressure from Russian communications regulator Roskomnadzor and officials were quick to respond.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakhrova posted on Telegram: “From the look of it, YouTube has signed its own warrant. Save content, transfer (it) to Russian platforms. And hurry up.”

Roskomnadzor reportedly asked Google to restore access to the Duma channel immediately. “The American IT company adhere to a pronounced anti-Russian position in the information war unleashed by the West against our country,” Roskomnadzor said.

CNN reported a quote from a Google spokesperson. “Google is committed to compliance with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws. If we find that an account violates our Terms of Service, we take appropriate action. Our teams are closely monitoring the situation for any updates and changes.”

Here is what stands out to me: there are other video streaming services that Russia could potentially use now that their lower house of parliament’s YouTube channel is gone. Perhaps they could try to use Twitch, or Vimeo?

Twitter allows people to post short videos, and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram also can be used to post videos. Why isn’t Russia using those platforms? Oh, that’s right. It is because Russia itself restricted access to all of those platforms. According to Reuters, Russia also tried to ban Telegram, which is now widely used by their officials, but lifted its ban in mid-2020.

In my opinion, Russia’s lower house of parliament is trying to make the loss of their YouTube channel into something that it isn’t. Google is well known for blocking videos and channels that break their Terms of Service.

YouTube is Blocking Channels Funded by the Russian Government

YouTube said it will start blocking YouTube channels funded by the Russian government. The Verge reported that this comes after YouTube blocked channels like RT and Sputnik in Europe. Many of the details about this come from the YouTubeInsider Twitter account. The account is YouTube’s official account for updates to the press and media.

@YouTubeInsider posted a thread of tweets about this topic:

“1/ Our Community Guidelines prohibit content denying, minimizing, or trivializing well-documented violent events. We are now removing content about Russia’s invasion in Ukraine that violates this policy”.

That tweet was quote-tweeting a previous @YouTubeInsider tweet from March 1, which was also a start of a thread. That tweet said: 1/ Today, we began blocking RT & Sputnik YouTube channels across Europe. Since Russian began its invasion in Ukraine, we’ve been focused on removing violative content & connecting people to trusted news & information. An overview of the steps we’ve taken in the last few days.”

Returning to the current thread of tweets:

“2/ in line with that, we are also now blocking access to YouTube channels associated with Russian state-funded media globally, expanding from across Europe. This change is effective immediately, and we expect our systems to take time to ramp up.”

“3/ Since our last update, our teams have now removed more than 1,000 channels and over 15,000 videos for violating not only our hate speech policy, but also our policies around misinformation, graphic content and more.”

“4/ Our systems are also connecting people to trusted news sources. So far, our breaking news and top news shelves on our homepage have received more than 17M views in Ukraine.”

“5/ In addition, we recently paused all YouTube ads in Russia. We’ve now extended this to all of the ways to monetize on our platform in Russia.”

“6/ Our teams continue to closely monitor the situation, and they are ready to take further action. We will continue to share updates as they become available.”

The Verge reported: While not being able to access channels like RT and Sputnik worldwide is an escalation from YouTube, Google had already made it so the channels couldn’t monetize their videos. In late February, the company said that Russia state media outlets wouldn’t be able to run ads on their videos.

The Hill reported that Facebook and Instagram similarly restricted access to Russian state media in Europe and have stopped recommending content by those groups to all users. The Hill also reported that Twitter has been “slapping labels” on all posts including links to Russia state media.