YouTube – FTC – Think of the Children – Censorship – Round 3!

Aww geez! Not another YouTube rant!

It’s a time that as a blogger we address the proverbial elephant in the room. The last few things YouTube has done I’ve remained quiet about. Mostly in respects that I’ve already said my piece about them and have suggested to people to try other outlets. From their de-monetization policy, a word that if you uttered 10 years ago people would scratch their head and ask you “What the hell are you talking about?” To “Adpocalypse” and “AI mass deletion” to now with this whole “COPPA/FTA” ordeal. I feel it’s time to address these issues in an environment to which YouTube nor Google cannot control.

This very blog. I should throw a small disclaimer that these are the opinions of S-Config.com. In such, you should do your own investigative research to form your own opinions on the subject matter. Don’t be a lemming!

Read on if you want to know more!

betamax video tape - S-Config.ComVideo mirrors:

In case you have no-script enabled or for some reason cannot see the title video on this website. I have provided direct links for these videos.

  • WebM VP9 – Link – Apple Safari and IOS users may need to download VLC to make WebM work. Otherwise, this is the newest standard of web-streaming.
  • OGV – Link – the fallback codec for older PC’s and Linux USB stick OS’s. 1st generation web video streaming based on Ogg-Vorbis encoding.


Post-Apocalyptic tacos!

Every disaster has a “Once upon a time.”

To find out YouTubes “Once upon a time” you have to go way back into the early 2000s. The inventors of YouTube wanted a means of sharing videos. Server bandwidth and most importantly server speed was a very expensive commodity for the individual to undertake during this era of the internet. Thus, in order to host your own videos in the efforts of plastering them on forums, websites, or e-mail. Thus, a group of people created YouTube. Where “You” can upload video to the “Tube” of the internet. The marketing was simple and elegant. People regarded the ability to upload videos to this site much like how we perceive Public Television. As a utility and a right. To which at this time YouTube as a corporation was perfectly comfortable with.

A happy merger.

YouTube eventually merged with Google which at the time made perfect sense for all parties. Google was a search engine that wanted the public to use its ability to search for things like a utility. YouTube was a website that wanted people to upload and broadcast themselves like a utility or public television. Coupled with the mantra in the early days that followed every business decision of “don’t be evil” and the fact that YouTube needed more servers which google gladly had. It was a perfect match.

This is the point where the fairy tale honeymoon between the public and the company began to fall apart. Because as the header of this article states, we are now going to address the elephant in the room. That elephant is called.

Money! Money! Money!

Money, in the form of advertisement, is what eventually sparked lawsuits from ViaComm saying that the people uploading videos of shows to their network were being profited on. Even though  Google described YouTube as not making any money. The case was resolved with the enforcement of channels scanning for copywritten content and have it automatically removed by an AI which cannot tell the difference between parody, “fair use” where a person uses a few seconds of a video to prove a point. Or even public domain music where you have corporations manipulating the copyright system to strike as many content creators as they can to scalp them of any advertising revenue they can get their hands on.

When you start thinking of everything that YouTube has done in an effort to take the “You” out of the “Tube”. Coupling this with our previous articles of where’s the fair use and YouTube Heroes along with dropping Google’s policy of “don’t be evil” and as a content creator or customer of Google you find yourself working with a company that is facing a serious identity crisis.

As a lowly blogger, we tried to help! We offered YouTube a new branding that would offer honesty and transparency to all users on their network.

CommercialTube Logo.

YouTube declined to comment on our re-brand. Can’t say we didn’t try to help!

After all, if money is what holds the power over a network then the proper people should be credited for it. This is what “Adpocalypse” was all about on YouTube. The ability to make the content of YouTube more advertiser-friendly and profitable by punishing creators that used bad language, talking about the news or world events might piss off Chinese advertisers. Saying something inappropriate like talking about LGBT rights? We hope you like your content buried and you have a different method of revenue than YouTube! Because in an advertiser-friendly world that’s exactly what is going to happen.

Now for those LGBT creators out there that feel screwed don’t worry, there’s a class action lawsuit going on right now over that. <<LINK HERE, Danger, it’s CNN>>

If advertisers get a final say as to what gets put onto the “Tube” then it’s fair to say that “You” are not important anymore! This is a monster that content creators latched onto and screamed, cried murder, and had their businesses eventually ruined. That as a middle-ware style business a creator has absolutely no power over anything on another corporation’s server.

The Frustration of those content creators is magnified tenfold because as a creator they know that YouTube is a monopoly. Like it or not 80 to 90 percent of the internet visits YouTube and no other video sharing network service. To which leaves to the last resort of protesting and trying to use democracy on a corporation. Unlike a government entity, a corporation can change their policies and reject whoever they want at any time. Suddenly the warm and comforting days of YouTube being a service that entitles people to upload content becomes even further from the reality that we face today.

Oh look, we have this ancient concept called “television.”

YouTube TV

To further drive the point home that YouTube is no longer about you the company decided to introduce YouTube TV. Where dinosaur-like organizations of cable television get to share the same platform as you the Content Creator allowing for talk show personalities, new agencies, and shows to discuss things that would most likely get your channel demonetized if you even attempted to talk about the same thing. Seems fair right?

In the minds of these assholes that exist in Los Angeles and New York realizing their infrastructure is dying that it’s easier to simply steal the power of a network from a group of individuals in the hopes that you would come back and watch them again. Can these networks afford their own servers? Of course, they can! In fact, most of these networks have their own streaming services! But once again, we’re dealing with a monopoly here!

YouTube has also shown their true colors during the end of the year “YouTube Rewinds” where it’s no longer about content creators but what zany thing Will Smith will say referencing Fortnite in the most ham-fisted acting job in that man’s career.

Yet, throughout it all; These content creators have stood by YouTube like someone suffering from a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome.  They feel they have no choice and there is nowhere for them to go. Most of these people have never run a business outside of being a YouTube Content Creator. Thus, they continue to publish content to the worlds largest video streaming network making it even larger by the day.

Commercially viable content.

I want you to keep in the back of your head all of the channels that have had their monetization stripped from them. Their Channels removed completely from the YouTube network. Their Traffic destroyed. Good, now when you open up your Current YouTube Terms of service which to us came on November the 6th 2019 at 9:36 pm under the heading “Account Suspension & Termination” subheading  Terminations by YouTube for Service Changes” :

YouTube may terminate your access, or your Googles account’s access to all or port of the Service if YouTube beleives, in its sole discretion, that promotion of the Service to you is no longer commercially viable.

One of the problems with Google as we pointed out during our articles with AMP pages is that Google themselves ends up becoming their own worst enemy. The vagueness of their terms of service could potentially invoke a class action lawsuit if they were to carry out their judgment upon the network. Even if it does not it will leave users in a state of constant fear. Between their TOS combined with past interactions of how youtube likes to deploy AI’s to straight-up destroy content. The tin-foil hat community could interpret this new entry as such:

Creator:

So, an unknown entity can come to my page which only has a few hundred views on their YouTube and makes zero money at it. They can blow up my profile? Fuck! How is anyone new to YouTube supposed to get any traction on the service then?

Watcher:

Wait…Google can straight up delete my account?!? Including Gmail, YouTube, my android phone profile. Because I am using an Ad-Blocker and there-fore I’m not commercially viable?

Which if you take their TOS word for word both of these guys wearing (highly fashionable we may add) tin-foil hats would be absolutely correct. If you think about how they deployed their previous enforcement of policies by using AI to streamline the YouTube business model then these concerns are very valid and legit.

But! There are other ways this statement can be interpreted!

Working with other countries.

Another way of thinking about this is this is the same language they use for ISP’s where if there is content coming into or coming from a country that does not want global advertisement at their front doorstep. Then it is Google’s right to deny them of such a service. It makes no sense for a business to waste resources in a part of the world that refuses your ability to make a profit. Again, Google is a corporation that disguises itself as a utility of basic internet existence. Not an actual government-funded and ran utility system!

YouTube Home video hoarders.

VHS Cassette Tapes.

YouTube’s latest statement may, in fact, be addressing the THIRD community of YouTube. Not a Content Creator nor Watcher/listeners. This community is quiet and to a business that hosts content, this community can also be deadly towards the efficiency of how you as a video streamer run a business. A community so quiet it has no real name.  So we’ll just call them the video hoarder.

What a video hoarder does is they will use YouTube as a giant vault for all of their videos that they have taken. They’ll film something on their Go Pro or their cel-phone, and at the end of the night, they’ll upload it to YouTube and mark it as ‘private’ then….. Well…… Do absolutely nothing with it!

Most normal people use the ‘private video’ feature like what we bloggers use as ‘Draft’ it shows us a preview of what we’re doing. it allows us to show our friends what we are writing so they can criticize us and laugh at our level of insanity er, give valuable input in what we do before we go live! THEN get wrecked in the comments section!

They do this because for anyone who has created content knows. Videos can be rather large! Unedited videos are even larger! Instead of being a legit user and pay for a cloud-service storage system such as a DropBox or an OwnCloud these individuals feel the need to spend a few dollars a month as too expensive. So fuck it! It gets pushed to YouTube.

If you run a video streaming service like YouTube. You would probably be pissed that there are terabytes of data sitting on your servers drives that are doing absolutely nothing.

So if you DO hoard videos. Use personal hard drives, purchase your own cloud storage. Hell, if you like Google so much upgrade your Google Drive. But YouTube is probably not the place you should be doing it!

COPPA and the FTC

Just weeks after YouTube updating their TOS saying pretty much we’ll destroy your entire Google profile if we feel you’re not profitable enough. We now have the Federal Trade Commission flexing their American muscle on the world wide internet. Some of you may have never had any interaction with this part of the Government Agency so lets briefly discuss what they do.

United States Federal Trade Commission.

The Federal Trade Commission is designed to protect US Citizens from Unfair, Fraudulent, and Inappropriate practices within business. It’s actually a fairly noble group of people when you think about it because these are the guys that keep car salesmen from selling you a flaming piece of garbage and leaving you to pick up the tab. Or someone selling you a home knowing that they built said home on a toxic waste site. Essentially this is the organization that keeps capitalism from going tits up in America.

One of the laws that they acted in 1998 was one called COPPA. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Well before y2k the FTC realized that commerce was going to be a big thing and thus they needed protocols in place to keep corporations from running around indexing children under the age of 13. Unless said corporation had their parent’s permission they cannot track what the child does or attempt to sell to the child with directed advertisement online. A corporation could not ask a child under the age of 13 for their name, address, phone number, put it on the internet and have it indexed by millions of people that could potentially do some bad shit to these kids.

It seems legit to me! In other words! Don’t be a creepy online white panel van stalker to children!

Why is the FTC getting involved with YouTube? We must once again address the elephant in the room again. Which is Money! YouTube believes in targeted advertisements via file cookies. Meaning that if you watch a lot of videos about truck repair. Then a commercial to Purchase a 4×4 truck would be way more appealing than a person that was looking at Vynil Records. This type of information is stored in the tracking cookie mechanism that Google as a company placed upon every client that runs through their search engines or visits YouTube.

One thing that cannot be denied is that we have a terrible parenting problem at least in the United States. Because YouTube has described its demographic audience of being a majority of children that sit with their tablet and watch shows on YouTube. In some cases, they’ll watch the same show 5-10 times a day. To the creator of those children shows that’s fantastic because it means they’re getting millions of ad-revenue hits.  Thus, the children’s show category grew more and more! It’s not the creators’ fault for getting that sweet money. It is YouTube’s fault for treating advertisement revenue with reckless abandonment even towards people under the age of 13. YouTube themselves stating that all of their content is for an audience over the age of 13 which the FTC seemed to have accepted that answer back in 2013.

About 20 or so advocacy groups eventually filed a complaint with the FTC that YouTube is catering to children under the age of 13 which is a violation of COPPA. Those advocacy groups were not wrong as in 2018 FTC did start a lawsuit with YouTube and eventually settled out of court for a large sum of millions.

The settlement was simply to take care of YouTube’s responsibility in these matters. What? Did you think they cared about creators after everything else they’ve done? hahahahah! Oh man.

Janurary 1st, 2020

YouTube has now come out with another video dealing with their interaction with the FTC stating that as of January 1st, 2020 all creators must mark themselves as either adult. or for children. On the surface, this does not seem all that terrible until you dive into what that means.

Choose that your content is for children.

If you mark your content as children, your comments section will be BLOCKED, your notification bell GONE, your video suggestions gone, you will not receive directed marketing ads that make up the majority of revenue for a YouTube. If you attempt any adult subjects in your shows after marking your content as for children. you will face a 42,000+ (USD) fine from the FTC.

Choose that your content is for adults.

If you mark your content for adults, your channel will pretty much go onward perfectly fine. However, in YouTubes agreement, if you attempt to talk about anything or do anything that could be targeted for children. You will face a 42,000+ (USD) fine from the FTC.

I will choose free will.

If you choose not to decide then YOUTUBE will make the choice! DundunDUN!!!

YouTube will automatically put your channel into one category or another at their discretion. If they cannot determine this then they may simply delete your channel in order to comply with the rulings from the FTC. All of that hard work that you placed into your channel to grow an audience is now gone!

YouTube blocking a “General” catagory.

There was the concept of a third choice known as “General” catagory because the FTC is not stupid. They know that there’s content out there which appears to BOTH children and adults. However, YouTube neglected to offer content creators this option because it hurts their business. It would mean more work for them to setup and administrate a general audience catagory so instead they force the content creator to take a hard-line stance so YouTube as a company can profit millions.

How do I know what category do I fit in?

YouTube has given this multi-factor analysis system to help determine if your video is kid-friendly or not. Let’s see if it applies to us.

Subject matter of the online service.

This is a hard one. I talk about things like this but I also talk about repair on this blog. Too vague let’s move on.

Visual Content

Is my video content child-friendly? EH? Too vague move on!

Animated character or child activities

Oh, fuck you! You can’t pull this old troupe out saying that cartoon animated characters are just for children. That is literally what is holding American animation back from being as apart of culture as Japanese Anime. Just because the character is animated does NOT give you the right to throw my fursona into the child category.

Incentives…

Confused Travolta is confused.

What the… How in… What does that even mean?!?!?

Music or Audio in the video

So if I play twinkle twinkle little star in my video while a SWAT team tear gases a bunch of terrorists in a bank. In some twisted contrived world, that’s somehow appealing to children and thus we will get sued for showing adult content. Sweet! If we were musicians and we made a song that somehow 5-year-olds like. We didn’t go out of our way to MAKE 5-year olds like our music but they do. We remembered a point in our lives wherein grade school we were listening to Pink Floyds “The Wall.” because children listened to the album and may not have completely understood the lyrics to it does Pink Floyd now fall into the children’s category and thus get fined?

That’s a highly dangerous slope of censorship to go down on. Think of all of the music videos that are on YouTube. Where they may have some nice words to them but the official music video for the song is anything but nice. You’re going to have a lot of music disappear after January 1st, 2020.

Age of the models in the video.

Half of Hollywood films should be sued by the FTC at that level. On top of that age-discrimination is a real thing and not a joking manner. C’mon.

Precence of child celebrities

So if we were to somehow get MaCaulay Culkin to show up on a video of ours then that’s a violation because he WAS a child celebrity. The rules don’t state past-present-future tenses! Guess that’s another 42k down the drain!

Language or other characteristics of the online service.

Again, fuck you. If we weren’t clear about this already. Read our FAQ as we’ve plainly documented the intention of our service many months ago. Also, I suppose in order to have an animated character for adults that animated character must start off the video by saying ‘fuck you’ just to illustrate that this is indeed  NOT for children!

This only re-inforces the censorship issue that YouTube has where if you say profanities you lose your ad-revenue. but if you DON’T say any profanities then you could be subject to ‘appealing to children’. You just can’t win with these guys!

Are the ads of an online service are directed towards children.

How I am supposed to know that? For example, we promote NordVPN as one of the few advertisers on our site. We also promote Anuabianhost as well. Both services TECHNICALLY a child under 13 years of age could buy! Our ads are neutral and aren’t really directed towards children but the interpretation is key once again. However, if a bunch of kids loads up on private networking then suddenly it’s ‘appealing’ towards those children? Maybe the child just wants to be left the fuck alone from everyone! Or their school’s firewall sucks! Think about it!

You should consult a lawyer if you have any issue with these guidelines.

Man, I don’t even think a lawyer is going to help you out on this one. If anything that lawyer would probably tell you to get the hell out of YouTube. The contract is poisonous and essentially your ability to work with an organization that blatantly ignores the law makes it pointless to even try to work with them.

This is also a YouTubes way of sidestepping the situation and telling the FTC to have free reign on destroying its creators. Creators that more than likely don’t have enough money to even pay rent much less keep a retainer active on a lawyer. Illustrating the point that YouTube really doesn’t care about “You”.  Just money.

S, aren’t you worried the FTC will come down on your site.

No, because we don’t track anything nor anyone. We don’t run targeted advertisements.  We believe we’ve said over and over again that we are not a site for children. If a child is reading this blog without their parent(s) then it’s the child(s) responsibility to stand up from their computer walk over to their parents and tell them they are horrible for allowing the internet to be their babysitter. Then go outside to skateboard. Keep your Cardio up! Your body will thank you when you get older.

We are also aware that Google Search leaves cookies on people’s computers informing them of what site they have exited google to in the hopes that the destination site is running Google Analytics. Which we don’t. If the cookie issued by Google is a violation of COPPA then Google should do the ‘right thing’ and remove my website from their search engine as we would not be “Commercially Viable” to them. Don’t worry. We’ve been preparing for this for a long time!

The only logs we capture are error logs for troubleshooting. We have a privacy statement as well as discussing all of this!

Final thoughts.

This blog would be incomplete if we didn’t attempt to offer solutions to these matters. As a blogger, we would be doing onto the reader a great disservice for dumping the world’s problems onto you and not offering anything for a light at the end of the tunnel. So I’m going to address each party differently here.

Dear “Content Creators” Ugh! Such a shitty term!:

This is going to be the hardest pill to swallow. But you cannot rely on a third party to model your business anymore. You are artists, businessmen, creators, musicians and so muich more of value to which hundreds if not thousands of people visit every day/month/year. The bad news is you’re fighting a terrible monopoly. The good news is internet server space has gotten cheaper since YouTubes inception. My recommendation is to NOT trust another service but to host your own content much like what we do right here.

Facebook Scare

If you think that one blog or a self-hosted site makes no difference. I show you an e-mail describing Facebook’s worries about the future of its business model. These will likely be YouTubes worries as well if people move on to federated services such as PeerTube just to describe one service that you can not only self-host but join other like-minded content creators on a federated network.

You are not a “Content Creator.” you are so much more then that.

Hosting your own content creates a foundation for people to go to in the event that YouTube or a video service like it strikes you off of their network. That user can at least type in your name onto a competent search engine to find your website once again.  I’d recommend a service like Anubainhost but always do your research and choose the provider that you are willing to work with.

Vlare - YouTube Alternative.

Now there are even other video providers beyond Peertube which are very easy to look up. One of them that keeps popping up on the social blades we’ve been using has been Vlare. Link for Vlare is right here. Watching their video about the future of Vlare we at least appreciate the level of honesty on how things are run. That they are a small group of people run on donations in the hopes to get ads. Fair enough.

vid.me declined

Now we would be pretty hype about Vlare except that it reminds me of a video service that appeared during “Adpocalypse” called vid.me. Apparently, vid.me did not wish to verify me as a member because I needed to upload more content to their server. Sorry, Vid.me that we weren’t going to play your pyramid scheme. Hopefully, Vlare has learned from the mistakes of its competitors and can be a viable platform for creators. Or at least, Vlare should learn from YouTube and… Leave the children alone.

Dear American Government/FTC:

In the event that you read this as you are usually not the core audience this blogger speaks. We don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things. We’ll more than likely agree to disagree on a lot of subjects dealing with social issues. However, we don’t think it’s fair for you to go after individual people over something that was originally spawned by a major corporation. You’re ignoring the elephant in the room which is where the money is going. YouTube does not care how many channels/creators are lost because in their minds they make money on their ‘general’ ads as well as their ‘targeted’ ads.

Going after the people of the world is really not your responsibility. However, going after a monopoly should be a concern that the FTC needs to address. Google Search is a monopoly. YouTube is a monopoly. There is no business that has the capability nor bandwidth to compete at the level Google is at right now. Just looking at raw traffic will be evidence of that alone.

While I’m speaking to the American government. You need to kick PBS in the ass and have them host an online streaming service for people to submit videos too. I know PBS has the capability of being competitive against YouTube. Hell, PBS has multiple transponders on many of the satellites floating above us as well as a data-center hosting all of the content as it is. Let Public Broadcast Service be for the public again. PBS has the capability of hosting content for children in a responsible manner to top of it all off. So, it’s a win-win.

Dear YouTube Video Hoarders:

Purchase a cloud-based service to store your videos on. Don’t be dicks.

Dear Readers:

You made it to the end? Wow! Thank you very much for reading this little diatribe. Although I’ve moved onwards from YouTube I know there’s many out there who have not. I can see it on my social network panels every day. It is my hope that if at least one person stops YouTube and picks up a website to host their content. Or at the very least diversifies their content distribution to where there is not one network holding all of the content. Then my 4000+ rant will not be for nothing.

Click here – in case you want to watch the video which is hosted on Vimeo of all places. If it works for the government well… Think about that content creators!

My final summary on this mess is the following message:

YouTube fucked themselves.

They wanted to violate little children and in the states, we take individuals who violate children very seriously. Except that YouTube is not just an individual and a lot of innocents will ultimately pay the price for the greed of a few YouTube execs. The reason why the FTC is not going after my site, or Vimeo, or the many other alternative streaming services out there is they don’t touch little children. Full stop. Yes, we just called out YouTube for violating children. The LBGT community has already filed lawsuits against YouTubes censorship on discrimination so class action lawsuits aren’t anything new for this company. Perhaps a bigger lawsuit is required in order for some corporate hacks to get fired from YouTube for ruining a very simple marketing slogan.

But you really want to know the real culprit is of this disaster? Bad parenting.  It’s a matter of time but eventually, you’ll see some kid with a tablet and they’ll be watching YouTube for hours while not saying a word to their parents at the airport. or Dining room. It’s those parents that think the internet should be their babysitter instead of actually paying attention to what they are doing and watching. You have to think about this like the parents who let their children go wandering into the street. Or into some strangers house that he himself calls ‘imagination land’. These are bad parents who are completely oblivious as to what they’re doing to their children until it’s too late. I didn’t force this website upon your children. You shouldn’t force your child onto me. Advice to those parents that feel called out by this? Be apart of your child’s activities instead of distancing yourself and keeping your children as if it’s another expensive play-thing that goes next to your sports car. Stop ruining everything around you with those attitude of ‘takes a village to raise a child’.

Until next time. Don’t die. And may server protect you.

END OF LINE+++

 

 

Leave a Comment to the Void