Tag Archives: YouTube

Facebook and YouTube are Removing Alleged Name of Whistleblower



It is stunning how much damage people can do by posting the (potential) name of a whistleblower on social media, and having that name be passed around. This poses a dilemma for social media platforms. Both Facebook and YouTube are deleting content that includes the alleged name of the whistleblower that sparked a presidential impeachment inquiry. Twitter is not.

The New York Times reported a statement they received in an email from a Facebook spokeswoman:

“Any mention of the potential whistleblower’s name violates our coordinating harm policy, which prohibits content ‘outing of witness, informant or activist’,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We are removing any and all mentions of the potential whistleblower’s name and will revisit this decision should their name be widely published in the media or used by public figures in debate.”

The New York Times reported that an article that included the alleged name of the whistleblower was from Brietbart. This is interesting, because Breitbart is among the participating publications that Facebook included in Facebook’s “high quality” news tab. (Other publications include The New York Times, the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, BuzzFeed, Bloomberg, ABC News, Chicago Tribune and Dallas Morning News.) Facebook has been removing that article, which indicates that the company does not feel the article is “high quality”.

CNN reported that a YouTube spokesperson said videos mentioning the potential whistleblower’s name would be removed. The spokesperson said YouTube would use a combination of machine learning and human review to scrub the content. The removals, the spokesperson said, would affect the titles and descriptions of videos as well as the video’s actual content.

The Hill reported that Twitter said in a statement that it will remove posts that include “personally identifiable information” on the alleged whistleblower, such as his or her cell phone number or address, but will keep up tweets that mention the name.


YouTube Apologized for Changing Their Verification Program



CEO of YouTube Susan Wojcicki apologized to YouTube creators after the company received negative responses to YouTube’s new verification program. As a result, the new look for the verification badge will be delayed and will roll out next year. It is unclear exactly when that will happen. “Next year” could mean a few months from now.

CEO Susan Wojciki tweeted: “To our creators & users – I’m sorry for the frustration & hurt that we caused with our new approach to verification. While trying to make improvements, we missed the mark. As I write this, we’re working to address your concerns & we’ll have more updates soon.”

The updates were added that same day, on the YouTube’s Creator Blog titled: “Updates to YouTube’s verification program”. It is an attempt to clarify the changes to the verification badge. YouTube says the idea behind the update was to protect creators from impersonation and address user confusion. What were users confused about?

Also, nearly a third of YouTube users told us that they misunderstood the badge’s meaning, associating it with endorsement of content, and not an indicator of identity. While rolling out improvements to this program, we completely missed the mark. We’re sorry for the frustration that this caused and have a few updates to share.

Here are some things to know:

  • Channels that already have the verification badge will keep it and do not have to appeal.
  • All channels that have over 100,000 subscribers will still be eligible to apply for the verification badge. YouTube will reopen the application process by the end of October.
  • YouTube will verify channels that have over 100,000 subscribers The channel must also be authentic – meaning the channel represents the real creator, brand, or entity it is claiming to be. The channel must also be complete, meaning that it is public and has a description, channel icon, and content, and be active on YouTube.

To me, it seems like YouTube is very concerned about inauthentic channels that attempt to impersonate YouTube creators. That’s a good thing for YouTube to take action on.

The clarification that the badge means “an indicator of identity”, and not a sign that YouTube endorses the content on that channel, is sketchy. It feels like a loophole to allow YouTube to avoid taking responsibility for the worst content that appears on their platform.


YouTube Shares its Plans for Removing Harmful Content



YouTube posted information on its official blog about its plan for removing harmful content. It is part of YouTube’s effort to live up to their responsibility while preserving the power of an open platform.

The plan consists of four principles:

  • Remove content that violates YouTube’s policy as quickly as possible
  • Raise up authoritative voices when people are looking for breaking news and information
  • Reward trusted, eligible creators and artists
  • Reduce the spread of content that brushes right up against YouTube’s policy line.

Over the next several months, YouTube will provide more detail on the work they are doing to support these principals. The first focus is on “Remove”. They have been removing harmful content since YouTube started, but accelerated it in recent years.

Because of this ongoing work, over the last 18 months, we’ve reduced views on videos that are later removed for violating our policies by 80%, and we’re continuously working to reduce this number further.

After reviewing a policy, YouTube may discover that fundamental changes aren’t needed. But, if the review uncovers areas that are confusing to the community, YouTube clarifies their existing guidelines.

For example, YouTube provided more detail about when a “challenge” is too dangerous for YouTube. YouTube’s hate speech update was launched in early June. YouTube says the profound impact of their hate speech policy is already evident. In April, they announced they are updating their harassment policy, including creator-on-creator harassment.

Another thing YouTube is doing, in addition to human reviewers, is the use of machine learning technology to help detect potentially violative content. In addition, YouTube is removing content that breaks its rules before that content is widely viewed, or even viewed at all. More than 80% of auto-flagged videos were removed before they received a single view in the second quarter of 2018.

For example, YouTube notes that the nearly 30,000 videos they removed for hate speech over the last month generated just 3% of the views that knitting videos did over the same time period. Personally, I love that something as creative and informative as knitting videos are getting so many more views than the awful videos that include hate speech.


YouTube Changes Manual Content ID Claiming Policies



YouTube has announced additional changes to its manual claiming policies that are intended to improve fairness in the creator ecosystem, while still respecting owners’ rights to prevent unlicensed use of content. This balancing act may, or may not, work out as people might hope it would.

One concerning trend we’ve seen is aggressive manual claiming of very short music clips used in monetized videos. These claims can feel particularly unfair, as they transfer all revenue from the creator to the claimant, regardless of the amount of music claimed. A little over a month ago, we took a first step in addressing this by requiring copyright owners to provide timestamps for all manual claims so you know exactly which part of your video is being claimed. We also made updates to our Creator Studio that allow you to use those timestamps to remove manually claimed content from your videos, automatically releasing the claim and restoring monetization.

YouTube is now announcing new changes to their manual claiming processes. Here are some key points:

  • Including someone else’s content without permission means your video can still be claimed and copyright owners will still be able to prevent monetization or block the video from being viewed.
  • YouTube will forbid copyright holders from using the Manual Claiming tool to monetize creator videos with very short or unintentional uses of music.
  • Copyright claims created by the Content ID match system, which are the vast majority, are not impacted by this policy.
  • Enforcement of these policies begins in mid-September. After that, copyright owners who repeatedly fail to adhere to the policies will have their access to Manual Claiming suspended.

Interestingly, YouTube points out: “Without the option to monetize, some copyright owners may choose to leave very short or unintentional uses unclaimed”. Creators can safely use the music and sound effects in the YouTube Audio Library.

From this, it sounds to me as though YouTube is fed up with copyright holders who act in predatory ways. They shouldn’t get to take the creator’s entire revenue from a long video just because a few seconds of a song is in it. Separating these claims from financial rewards is a good idea.


YouTube Allows Users More Control Over Suggested Videos



YouTube posted information today about ways they are giving users more control over their Homepage and Up Next videos. This appears to be done in response to users telling YouTube that they wanted more control over what they see.

Connecting our users with the content they love is important to us. We want to help viewers find new interests and passions – such as a new favorite artist, a new creator they can follow or simply the best food recipes. But there’s one true expert in what you want to watch: you. One thing we’ve consistently heard from you is that you want more control over what videos appear on your homepage and in Up Next suggestions. So we’re doing more to put you in the driver’s seat.

YouTube mentions three specific changes they are rolling out in the coming days.

Explore topics and related videos on your Homepage and in Up Next videos: YouTube is making it easier for people to explore topics and related videos. The options you see could be related to the video you are watching, videos published by the channel you’re watching, or other topics that may be of interest to you.

Remove suggestions from channels you don’t want to watch: YouTube has made it simple for you to tell them to stop suggesting videos from a particular channel. Just tap a three-dot menu next to a video on the Homepage or Up Next, then “Don’t recommend channel.” After that, you should no longer see videos from that channel suggested to you on YouTube. This feature is available globally on the YouTube app for Android and iOS and will be available on desktop soon.

Learn more about why a video may be suggested to you: YouTube will post information underneath a video suggested to you in a small box. It provides an explanation about why YouTube selected that video for you. This feature is now available globally on the YouTube app for iOS and will be available on Android and desktop soon.

Personally, I think this is a step in the right direction. Giving users more control over the videos that are suggested to them will likely make people more interested in using YouTube. Parents whose children no longer watch YouTube Kids might be able to use these new tools as a filter on YouTube.


Most Children who Watch YouTube Don’t Use YouTube Kids



The YouTube Kids app was designed for children who were age 13 or younger. According to Bloomberg, most of the children who are watching YouTube don’t use YouTube Kids.

Children who do watch YouTube Kids tend to shift over to YouTube’s main site before they hit thirteen, according to multiple people at YouTube familiar with internal data. One person who works on the app said the departures typically happen around age seven. In India, YouTube’s biggest market by volume, usage of the Kids app is negligible, according to this employee. These people asked not to be identified discussing private information.

The article also noted that many parents don’t know the difference between YouTube and YouTube Kids. So, it’s entirely possible that the children of those parents are watching the main YouTube – which is definitely not designed for kids to watch.

Children who leave YouTube Kids and start watching the main YouTube don’t want to go back to YouTube Kids. The main complaint appears to be that these children see YouTube Kids as “babyish”. They aren’t wrong about that. One of the biggest YouTube Kids channels is called Cocomelon. It is a channel of nursery rhymes.

Parents need to decide for themselves how comfortable they are about allowing their children to watch the main YouTube instead of the kid version. It wouldn’t be very hard for a child to accidentally come across disturbing content simply by clicking on the videos that an algorithm suggests to them. This is not to say that everything on YouTube Kids is entirely safe for children, as it has had some not-safe-for-kids content. YouTube has worked to try and remove that content.

Parents who are concerned about what their children are watching on YouTube have a few options. The way to have the most control is for the parent to pre-screen YouTube videos and then watch those videos with their child. Doing so will take time, but will enable a parent to replace the YouTube algorithm with their own, personal, judgement about what is safe for their child to watch.


Trump Administration Launches Tool to Report Censorship



The Trump Administration has launched a web survey for people to use if they feel they have been wrongly censored on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. The survey was created with the online form-building tool Typeform. The first page of the survey says:

SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS should advance FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Yet too many Americans have seen their accounts suspended, banned, or fraudulently reported for unclear “violations” of user policies. No matter your views, if you suspect political bias caused such an action to be taken against you, share your story with President Trump.

The Guardian reported that the survey asks users to provide their names, contact information, social media accounts, and screenshots of interactions with social media platforms. Only US citizens and permanent residents are asked to participate. The Guardian wonders what the Trump administration will do – and what it won’t do – with the names and contact information of the people who fill out the survey.

Typeform tweeted: “We didn’t get any further than this @WhiteHouse”. The tweet included a screenshot of the question “Are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident?” Typeform checked “no”. The Guardian reported that Typeform is based in Barcelona.

As always, it is a good idea to read a survey’s user agreement before you post any of your information into it. Ars Technica reported that the user agreement gives the Trump Administration a broad license to use the information that users post into the survey, including publishing it.

More specifically, the user agreement “grants the U.S. Government a license to use, edit, display, publish, broadcast, transmit, post, or otherwise distribute all or part of the Content (including edited, composite, or derivative works made therefrom)”.

“You waive any right to inspect or approve of any Content edited, composite or derivative works made from Content (including those which may contain your information) before use. You are not entitled to any prior notice before the U.S. Government uses Content or Information. You are not entitled to any compensation for Content.”

“You understand that Content may not be altered or deleted by you after submission, You further understand that your submission may be subject to the Federal Records Act and/or the Presidential Records Act and may be subject to public release according to those statutes.”

The Verge reported that near the end of the survey, it invites users to opt into email newsletters from President Trump “so we can update you without relying on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.”

Another part of the survey points users toward the user agreement, and states: “you understand this form is for information gathering only.” I think there are going to be a lot of disappointed people who presume that filling out the survey will instantly make their suspended or banned accounts accessible once again. In addition, some people may not realize they opted-in to a newsletter.