More problems and controversy for Logan Paul, the YouTube star who caused a strong public backlash when he posted a video of a suicide victim in Japan. Google’s video platform today announced that it would be pulling advertising temporarily from his video channel in response to a “recent pattern of behavior” from him.
This is in addition to Paul’s suspensions from YouTube’s Preferred Ad program and its Originals series, both of which have been in place since January; and comes days after YouTube’s CEO promised stronger enforcement of YouTube’s policies using a mix of technology and 10,000 human curators.
In response to Logan Paul’s recent pattern of behavior, we’ve temporarily suspended ads on his channels.
Since coming online again after a one-month break from the service in the wake of the Japanese video, in addition to the usual (asinine) content of his videos, Paul has tasered a rat, suggested swallowing Tide Pods, and, according to YouTube, deliberately tried to monetize a video that clearly violated its guidelines for advertiser-friendly content (we’re asking if we can get a specific reference to which video this might be — they all seem pretty offensive to me, so it’s hard to tell).
“After careful consideration, we have decided to temporarily suspend ads on Logan Paul’s YouTube channels,” a spokesperson said to TechCrunch in an emailed statement elaborating on the Tweet. “This is not a decision we made lightly, however, we believe he has exhibited a pattern of behavior in his videos that makes his channel not only unsuitable for advertisers, but also potentially damaging to the broader creator community.”
Yesterday, during a series of “Fake News” hearings in the U.S. led by a Parliamentary committee from the UK, YouTube’s global head of policy Juniper Downs said that the company had found no evidence of videos that pointed to Russian interference in the Brexit vote in the UK, but the platform continues to face a lot of controversy over how it vets content on its site, and how that content subsequently is used unscrupulously for financial gain. (YouTube notably was criticised for taking too long to react to the Japanese video that started all of Paul’s pain.)
This is a contagion problem for YouTube: not only do situations like his harm public perception of the service — and potentially have an impact on viewership — but it could impact how much the most premium brands choose to invest on ads on the platform.
Interestingly, as YouTube continues work on ways of improving the situation with a mix of both machine learning and human approaches, it appears to be starting to reach beyond even the content of YouTube itself.
The Tide Pod suggestion came on Twitter — Paul wrote that he would swallow one Tide Pod for each retweet — and appears to have since been deleted.
Generally, YouTube reserves the right to hide ads on videos and watch pages — including ads from certain advertisers or certain formats.
When a person makes especially serious or repeated violations, YouTube might choose to disable ads from the whole channel or suspend the person from its Partner program, which is aimed at channels that hit 4,000 watch hours in 12 months and 1,000 subscribers, and lets the creators make money from a special tier of ads and via the YouTube Red subscription service. (This is essentially where Paul has fallen today.)
Since YouTube is wary of getting into the censorship game, it’s leaving an exit route open to people who choose to post controversial things anyway. Posters can turn off ads on individual videos. From what we understand, Paul’s channel and videos will get reevaluated in coming weeks to see if they meet guidelines.
But that does not really fix the bigger content issues on the platform. While an advertising suspension might mean a loss of some revenue for the creator, it’s not really a perfect solution.
Logan Paul, as one example, continues to push his own merchandise in his videos, and as a high-profile figure who has not lost his whole fan base, he will still get millions of views (and maybe more now because of this). In other words, the originally violating content is still out there, even if it doesn’t have a YouTube monetizing ad attached to it.
YouTube today said it’s launching a change to its service that will offer viewers more transparency around where news broadcasters get their funding. According to a company announcement, YouTube will now add notices below videos that are uploaded by broadcasters who receive some level of government or public funding.
“Our goal is to equip users with additional information to help them better understand the sources of news content that they choose to watch on YouTube,” explained Geoff Samek, Senior Product Manager YouTube News, in the company’s blog post.
The feature’s launch was earlier reported by The WSJ, which explained how the change may help to tackle the ongoing “fake news” problem that’s spanning the web, where fringe conspiracy theories and propaganda are often given equal visibility and attention as legitimate news sources.
The change will affect sources like the U.S.’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), but will also increase the visibility around foreign state news organizations, like Russia’s RT. As The WSJ also pointed out, U.S. intelligence officials dubbed RT “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”
This new label will initially appear only to users in the U.S., and it may not always be accurate.
A “Send Feedback” form will also be available in the case that issues with attribution arise, YouTube says.
While increasing the transparency around government-funded news reporting will help, to some extent, in providing more context around news videos on YouTube’s site, it doesn’t at all go far enough to address the larger issue with fake news, conspiracy theories, or other content that’s designed to influence public opinion for either financial or political gain.
As part of its efforts in tightening its content policies, the company says it’s planning to work with news partners to roll out more solutions to highlight authoritative news sources on its site in 2018.
YouTube claims it has already made progress in this area by better surfacing content from authoritative news sources on the homepage in a new “Breaking News” section as well as in search.
This goal was announced alongside several others this morning, as part of YouTube’s to-do list for the year.
Other initiatives include better communication with creators, giving creators better monetization tools, the expansion of social features like the Community tab and Reels, and increased investment in educational content.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission are jointly investigating Apple’s communications about the software update that slowed down older models of the iPhone, Bloomberg is reporting.
Citing sources familiar with the matter, the government has reportedly requested details on the company’s communications about the software update.
The Bloomberg report indicates that the two agencies are in very early stages of their investigation.
We’ve reached out to Apple, the SEC and the DOJ for comment and will update when we hear back.
For background, Apple got into a lot of trouble with customers who noticed that the performance of their older model phones was degrading over time. Apple was pushed to disclose that it had issued a software update that privileged power management over performance in older devices that had degraded batteries.
The U.S. isn’t the only country where people are pressing Apple for more information. Consumer advocacy groups around the world — from Europe to Asia — are pressing for an investigation into the slowdown.