In September 2019, YouTube was fined $170 million by the FTC for collecting personal information from minors under the age of 13 (in particular, viewing history) without parental consent, in order to allow channel operators to serve targeted advertising on their videos. In particular, the FTC ruled that YouTube was partly liable under COPPA, as the service's rating and curation of content as being suitable for children constituted the targeting of the website towards children. In order to comply with the settlement, YouTube was ordered to "develop, implement, and maintain a system for Channel Owners to designate whether their Content on the YouTube Service is directed to Children." YouTube also announced that it would invest $100 million over the next three years to support the creation of "thoughtful, original children's content".
In March 2017, the government of the United Kingdom pulled its advertising campaigns from YouTube, after reports that its ads had appeared on videos containing extremist content. The government demanded assurances that its advertising would "be delivered in a safe and appropriate way". The Guardian newspaper, as well as other major British and U.S. brands, similarly suspended their advertising on YouTube in response to their advertising appearing near offensive content. Google stated that it had "begun an extensive review of our advertising policies and have made a public commitment to put in place changes that give brands more control over where their ads appear". In early April 2017, the YouTube channel h3h3Productions presented evidence claiming that a Wall Street Journal article had fabricated screenshots showing major brand advertising on an offensive video containing Johnny Rebel music overlaid on a Chief Keef music video, citing that the video itself had not earned any ad revenue for the uploader. The video was retracted after it was found that the ads had actually been triggered by the use of copyrighted content in the video.More Info
Both private individuals and large production companies have used YouTube to grow audiences. Independent content creators have built grassroots followings numbering in the thousands at very little cost or effort, while mass retail and radio promotion proved problematic. Concurrently, old media celebrities moved into the website at the invitation of a YouTube management that witnessed early content creators accruing substantial followings, and perceived audience sizes potentially larger than that attainable by television. While YouTube's revenue-sharing "Partner Program" made it possible to earn a substantial living as a video producer—its top five hundred partners each earning more than $100,000 annually and its ten highest-earning channels grossing from $2.5 million to $12 million—in 2012 CMU business editor characterized YouTube as "a free-to-use ... promotional platform for the music labels." In 2013 Forbes' Katheryn Thayer asserted that digital-era artists' work must not only be of high quality, but must elicit reactions on the YouTube platform and social media. Videos of the 2.5% of artists categorized as "mega", "mainstream" and "mid-sized" received 90.3% of the relevant views on YouTube and Vevo in that year. By early 2013 Billboard had announced that it was factoring YouTube streaming data into calculation of the Billboard Hot 100 and related genre charts.More Info
The majority of YouTube's advertising revenue goes to the publishers and video producers who hold the rights to their videos; the company retains 45% of the ad revenue. In 2010, it was reported that nearly a third of the videos with advertisements were uploaded without permission of the copyright holders. YouTube gives an option for copyright holders to locate and remove their videos or to have them continue running for revenue. In May 2013, Nintendo began enforcing its copyright ownership and claiming the advertising revenue from video creators who posted screenshots of its games. In February 2015, Nintendo agreed to share the revenue with the video creators.More Info
In January 2018, YouTube creator Logan Paul faced criticism for a video he had uploaded from a trip to Japan, where he encountered a body of a suicide death in the Aokigahara forest. The corpse was visible in the video, although its face was censored. The video proved controversial due to its content, with its handling of the subject matter being deemed insensitive by critics. On January 10—eleven days after the video was published—YouTube announced that it would cut Paul from the Google Preferred advertising program. Six days later, YouTube announced tighter thresholds for the partner program to "significantly improve our ability to identify creators who contribute positively to the community", under which channels must have at least 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months and at least 1,000 subscribers. YouTube also announced that videos approved for the Google Preferred program would become subject to manual review, and that videos would be rated based on suitability (with advertisers allowed to choose).More Info
As a result of the controversy, which added to the concern about "Elsagate", several major advertisers whose ads had been running against such videos froze spending on YouTube. In December 2018, The Times found more than 100 grooming cases in which children were manipulated into sexually implicit behavior (such as taking off clothes, adopting sexualised poses and touching other children inappropriately) by strangers. After a reporter flagged the videos in question, half of them were removed, and the rest were removed after The Times contacted YouTube's PR department.More Info
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