Archive for the ‘YouTube’ Category

YouTube’s anti-extremism crackdown targets journalist who documents extremism

June 6th, 2019
News2Share's YouTube page, showing a list of recent videos.

Enlarge / News2Share's YouTube page. (credit: News2Share)

YouTube on Wednesday announced an expanded crackdown on hate speech, but the company said it would make sure not to ban or demonetize videos that "aim to condemn or expose hate, or provide analysis of current events."

However, YouTube's crackdown has already targeted a journalist who documents extremism, presumably by mistake.

"Within minutes of @YouTube's announcement of a new purge it appears they caught my outlet, which documents activism and extremism, in the crossfire," journalist Ford Fischer wrote on Twitter yesterday. "I was just notified my entire channel has been demonetized. I am a journalist whose work there is used in dozens of documentaries."

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Posted in Biz & IT, YouTube | Comments (0)

YouTube bans neo-Nazi and Holocaust-denial videos in push against hate speech

June 5th, 2019
An illustration of YouTube's logo behind barbed wire.

Enlarge (credit: YouTube / Getty / Aurich Lawson)

YouTube today expanded its hate-speech policy to ban more supremacist videos, such as those that promote Nazi ideology. The site is also banning hoax videos that deny the existence of the Holocaust and other well-documented, violent events.

The move will likely result in bans for many white supremacist YouTubers and other people spreading hateful ideologies.

"Today, we're taking another step in our hate-speech policy by specifically prohibiting videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation, or exclusion based on qualities like age, gender, race, caste, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status," YouTube's announcement said. "This would include, for example, videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory. Finally, we will remove content denying that well-documented violent events, like the Holocaust or the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place."

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Posted in Biz & IT, hate speech, Policy, YouTube | Comments (0)

Ex-YouTube engineer reveals how video site worked to kill off Internet Explorer 6

May 2nd, 2019
Ex-YouTube engineer reveals how video site worked to kill off Internet Explorer 6

(credit: Aurich Lawson)

The year is 2009. YouTube, four years old, has become the Web's leading video site. Though Internet Explorer 6 was far from current—it had been superseded by versions 7 and 8—it nonetheless made up some 18 percent of YouTube's traffic. These were, after all, the dark days of Windows XP; corporations had overwhelmingly stuck with Windows XP in spite of the release of Windows Vista, and Windows 7 was still some months from release. Many organizations still running XP appeared to be wishing for a kind of computational stasis: they wanted to be able to run Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 forever, unchanging, which would greatly simplify their maintenance and support costs.

But Internet Explorer 6 was nearly eight years old and seriously showing its age. On its release, the browser had a legitimate claim to be the best, fastest, most standards compliant, and most stable mainstream browser around. But those days were long gone. Compared to the alternatives—Firefox 3.5, Internet Explorer 8, and Google's Chrome—it was slow, unstable, and riddled with proprietary, non-standard behaviors. This was causing the team developing YouTube considerable pain, with weeks of extra work each development cycle to ensure that the site still worked correctly in the old browser.

According to former YouTube developer Chris Zacharias, this pain prompted the YouTube team to take renegade action to drive users away from Internet Explorer 6 and onto something newer and better. Though YouTube had been under Google's ownership for about three years, YouTube's engineers were suspicious and wary of being integrated into Google's corporate machine. They had their own special set of permissions named "OldTuber," and anyone with OldTuber permissions could freely modify the YouTube site without going through Google's usual change management process of code reviews, testing, adherence to coding standards, and so on. It was cowboy territory, where developers could do as they liked. Only the risk of breaking things—and hence losing OldTuber permissions, if not their job—kept them on the straight and narrow.

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Posted in browsers, chrome, development, google, Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 6, microsoft, standards, Tech, YouTube | Comments (0)

Amazon and Google settle feud, bring YouTube back to Fire TV devices

April 18th, 2019
The Fire TV Cube is a small Fire TV with an Echo Dot baked into it. It has a shiny black finish around the sides, with a matte black top.

Enlarge / The Fire TV Cube is a small Fire TV with an Echo Dot baked into it. It has a shiny black finish around the sides, with a matte black top. (credit: Jeff Dunn)

Feuding tech giants Amazon and Google have come to an agreement on their streaming services. After over a year of absence, the official YouTube app will return to Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs. Google pulled the video streaming app in early 2018 after it could not strike a deal with the online retail giant surrounding the availability of its products and services.

According to reports at the time, Google was unhappy with Amazon because the retailer didn't sell a number of its products, including Chromecast and Google Home devices. The two companies couldn't strike a business deal that pleased both parties, so Google removed the official YouTube app from Fire TV devices at the start of 2018. This came after Google also revoked YouTube access on Amazon's Echo Show devices, citing a "broken user experience."

In the time since YouTube left Fire TVs, users have been able to access the site using browsers. But that experience isn't the most user-friendly, so the real losers in this situation were YouTube lovers that owned Fire TV devices.

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Posted in amazon, chromecast, google, Prime, prime video, streaming, Tech, YouTube, youtube TV | Comments (0)

YouTube to develop interactive content like Netflix’s Bandersnatch

April 10th, 2019
The YouTube play-button logo duplicated numerous times on a white background.

Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto/Getty Images)

YouTube is looking to expand the types of original content it produces to include choose-your-own-adventure style programs. According to a Bloomberg report, the Google-owned company will develop interactive content similar to Netflix's hit Bandersnatch under the leadership of Ben Relles. Previously the head of unscripted programming, Relles has been with YouTube for eight years but has just begun in his new role.

Since the plan is in its infancy, there's no word on what types of interactive content we could see from YouTube yet. The company has experimented with interactive advertising but has yet to introduce viewer choice into its original programming. It could be a while before we see a choose-your-own-adventure creation from YouTube because this type of content, with multiple different options and endings, takes more time, effort, and money to produce than regular original programming.

Reportedly, YouTube's looking to bolster its original content offerings and increase ad sales by making interactive content. It's also hoping to get on the same playing field as some of its competition. Netflix's Black Mirror event Bandersnatch, which launched at the end of 2018, was such a huge success that the company plans on developing more interactive TV series. Walmart may even get into the mix soon, as it has invested $250 million in a "joint venture" with Eko, a company that makes interactive content.

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Posted in Bandersnatch, Choose Your Own Adventure, Gaming & Culture, interactive content, Netflix, Original programming, Tech, YouTube | Comments (0)

YouTube reportedly ignored extremism in order to boost engagement

April 3rd, 2019
A person's hand holding a smartphone that displays the YouTube app.

Enlarge (credit: Toolstotal)

A new report from Bloomberg's Mark Bergen details in damning specificity how YouTube has allowed extremist content to run rampant on its site. According to the report, YouTube executives, including CEO Susan Wojcicki, repeatedly ignored warnings from YouTube employees regarding extreme and misleading videos gaining popularity on the site. This was done reportedly for "fear of throttling engagement."

Reportedly, "scores" of YouTube and Google employees raised concerns about incendiary content on YouTube. Some also offered solutions—one engineer suggested removing videos from recommendations that were "close to the line" of the company's takedown policy, while another employee wanted to track toxic videos in a spreadsheet to monitor how popular they became over time. YouTube did not take these employees up on their suggestions and continued to turn a blind eye to many types of extreme content.

While none of these rebuttals seem to be documented on paper as official policy, employees were reportedly discouraged from being proactive. YouTube lawyers told employees who were not assigned to moderation tasks to not research toxic content on their own.

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Posted in extremism, Facebook, google, online extremism, online video, streaming, Tech, YouTube | Comments (0)

Social media sites struggle to contain video of New Zealand shooting

March 15th, 2019
The shooter had a collection of guns in his car before he entered the mosque.

Enlarge / The shooter had a collection of guns in his car before he entered the mosque.

A white nationalist who murdered an estimated 49 Muslims in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday livestreamed a portion of his gruesome crime on Facebook, sending social media companies scrambling to contain the spread of the video.

Major social media platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, have terms of service prohibiting graphically violent videos. Officials worry that wide distribution of such videos boosts the profile of mass shooters and could inspire copycats. It can also be painful for victims' families.

"Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy in New Zealand," YouTube tweeted. "Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage."

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Posted in Christchurch shooting, Facebook, Policy, Reddit, YouTube | Comments (0)

Suicide instructions spliced into kids’ cartoons on YouTube and YouTube Kids

February 25th, 2019
A girl watches a video on youtube.

Enlarge / A girl watches a video on youtube. (credit: Getty |ALAIN JOCARD)

Tips for committing suicide are appearing in children’s cartoons on YouTube and the YouTube Kids app.

The sinister content was first flagged by doctors on the pediatrician-run parenting blog and later reported by the Washington Post. An anonymous “physician mother” initially spotted the content while watching cartoons with her son on YouTube Kids as a distraction while he had a nosebleed. Four minutes and forty-five seconds into a video, the cartoon cut away to a clip of a man walking onto the screen and simulating cutting his wrist. “Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,” he says and then walks off screen. The video then quickly flips back to the cartoon.

“I am disturbed, I am saddened, I am disgusted,” the physician wrote. “But I am also relieved that I was there to see this video with my own eyes, so that I could take the appropriate actions to protect my family.” Those actions included deleting the YouTube Kids app and forever banning it from the house.

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Posted in cartoons, CDC, science, self-harm, suicide, YouTube, YouTube Kids | Comments (0)

YouTube loses advertisers over “wormhole into pedophilia ring”

February 21st, 2019
YouTube loses advertisers over “wormhole into pedophilia ring”

Enlarge (credit: Aurich / Getty)

YouTube is losing advertising from Fortnite maker Epic Games, Disney, and other companies because of ads appearing alongside videos shared by pedophiles.

YouTube told Ars that it has taken action against users violating its policies this week, including by terminating more than 400 channels, deleting accounts, and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos. YouTube said it has also reported illegal content to authorities, but the company admitted it has more to do. We asked YouTube if it has identified any problems in its algorithms that helped cause the problem but received no answer to that question.

"All Nestle companies in the US have paused advertising on YouTube, a spokeswoman for the company said Wednesday in an email," Bloomberg reported yesterday. "Video game maker Epic Games Inc. and German packaged food giant Dr. August Oetker KG also said they had postponed YouTube spending after their ads were shown to play before the videos. Disney has also withheld its spending, according to people with knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be identified because the decision hasn't been made public."

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Posted in Biz & IT, Policy, YouTube | Comments (0)

The Verge briefly censored YouTubers who mocked its bad PC building advice

February 19th, 2019
We think copyright's fair use doctrine allows us to show you this screenshot from The Verge's video.

Enlarge / We think copyright's fair use doctrine allows us to show you this screenshot from The Verge's video. (credit: The Verge)

Last week, The Verge got a reminder about the power of the Streisand effect after its lawyers issued copyright takedown requests for two YouTube videos that criticized—and heavily excerpted—a video by The Verge. Each takedown came with a copyright "strike." It was a big deal for the creators of the videos, because three "strikes" in a 90-day period are enough to get a YouTuber permanently banned from the platform.

The move sparked an online backlash, and The Verge quickly reversed itself and asked YouTube to reinstate the videos in question. But Verge editor Nilay Patel (who, full disclosure, was briefly a colleague of mine at The Verge's sister publication insists that the videos "crossed the line" into copyright infringement.

It's hard to be sure if this is true since there are very few precedents in this area of the law. But the one legal precedent I was able to find suggests the opposite: that this kind of video is solidly within the bounds of copyright's fair use doctrine.

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Posted in fair use, Policy, Reaction videos, the verge, YouTube | Comments (0)