YouTube ‘creators’ fret over impact of new child protection rules

YouTube will treat data from anyone watching kids’ content on YouTube as coming from a child. (AFP/File)
Updated 17 September 2019

YouTube ‘creators’ fret over impact of new child protection rules

  • The move marks the latest twist in a series of controversies over online content for young audiences

SAN FRANCISCO: Samuel Rader quit his job three years ago to work full time on his YouTube channel, “Sam and Nia,” featuring videos of his family life.

The channel created by the Texas-based couple — with videos of their Hawaii vacation, setting up their backyard pool and other content — has become one of the stars of the Google-owned video service with some 2.5 million subscribers.

But the future is now uncertain for “Sam and Nia” and other YouTube “creators” as a result of a settlement with US regulators that will make it harder to get ad revenues from videos and channels directed at children.

“I went into a minor panic attack when I heard,” said Rader, whose channel has taken in a reported $2 million from ads placed along the videos. “I thought we would have to find a new source of revenues.”

YouTube earlier this month agreed to pay a fine of $170 million and change how it handles collected data from children under a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission.

YouTube will treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child. It will also stop serving personalized ads on this content entirely, and bar features such as comments and notifications.

The new rules, set to go into effect in four months, have stoked fears in the YouTube community of creators and “vloggers” like the Raders, who live off the advertising revenue.

“There’s a lot of shock, grief and fear. For many creators, this is their only source of income,” said Melissa Hunter of the Family Video Network, a consultancy which also operates a group of channels on YouTube.

“They are people making content in their houses, not huge companies; they’re small homemade businesses.”

Many questions remain as to how YouTube will define children’s content — intended for kids up to age 12 — which will be subject to the new rules.

Rader said he has been advised that “we are a low-risk channel because our content is not targeting children.”

YouTube is believed to have millions of content creators on its network, who share in the service’s ad revenues, estimated to be more than $10 billion annually, though it is unclear how much of YouTube’s content is directed at children.

In announcing the new policy, YouTube Chief Executive Susan Wojcicki acknowledged that “these changes will have a significant business impact on family and kids creators who have been building both wonderful content and thriving businesses, so we’ve worked to give impacted creators four months to adjust before changes take effect.”

Wojcicki added that YouTube is “committed to working with them through this transition, and providing resources to help them better understand these changes,” and would also establish a $100 million fund “dedicated to the creation of thoughtful, original children’s content.”

Critics of the internet giant said YouTube marketed itself as a destination for children and benefitted by selling advertising to toymakers and others.

FTC Chairman Joe Simons said the settlement “prevents YouTube and Google from turning a blind eye to the existence of kids-directed content” on its platform.

Hunter said the creators of family content may collect anywhere from $30 to $100,000 per month, but that “those families are going to make almost nothing on Jan. 1” when the new rules come into effect.

YouTube and creators may still be able to generate revenue from video ads as long as they are not targeted based on data collected from children, although these are far less lucrative. “Advertisers do spend more for trackable, measurable placements,” said Nicole Perrin, an analyst at the research firm eMarketer.

“I’m not sure there is a way to comply with this for kids without limiting some of the revenues on that side.”

Shaun McKnight, whose Dallas-based M-Star Media has created several popular YouTube channels which have attracted millions of subscribers, said he and his wife anticipated changes were coming. “My wife and I thought it was too risky so we pulled back,” he said.


Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

Updated 20 February 2020

Qatar’s BeIN chairman, two others indicted in bribery case

  • Former FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke charged with accepting bribes, among others
  • Al-Khelaifi charged with inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement

GENEVA: Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was charged Thursday by Swiss federal prosecutors in connection with a wider bribery investigation linked to World Cup television rights.

The office of Switzerland’s attorney general filed an indictment charging Al-Khelaifi with inciting former FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke “to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.”

The Qatari football and television executive, however, no longer faces an accusation of bribery. Following a three-year investigation, FIFA reached an “amicable agreement” with Al-Khelaifi last month, prosecutors said, to drop its criminal complaint relating to the awarding of 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to Qatari broadcaster BeIN Sports.

Al-Khelaifi is the head of Doha-based BeIN Sports and also a member of the UEFA executive committee.

Al-Khelaifi was indicted for his alleged part in providing Valcke — who had influence over the awarding of World Cup rights until being removed from office in 2015 — with use of a luxury villa in Sardinia without paying rent valued at up to €1.8 million ($1.94 million).

Valcke was charged with accepting bribes, “several counts of aggravated criminal mismanagement … and falsification of documents.”

For the first time in the five-year investigation of FIFA business, Swiss prosecutors revealed that they believe Valcke received kickbacks totaling €1.25 million to steer World Cup rights toward favored broadcasters in Italy and Greece.

A third person who was not identified was charged with bribery over those payments and also for inciting Valcke to commit aggravated criminal mismanagement.

Al-Khelaifi was appointed to the UEFA executive committee, representing European football clubs, one year ago despite being implicated in the bribery case. He is also an influential board member of the European Club Association, which is seeking to drive reforms in the Champions League to favor elite clubs such as French champion PSG.

He denied wrongdoing after being questioned in 2017 and 2019 in connection with criminal proceedings opened three years ago.

Al-Khelaifi has also been implicated in a separate corruption investigation by French prosecutors that is linked to Qatar seeking hosting rights for the track and field world championships. Doha hosted the 2019 edition.