Should PewDiePie have known better? His critics say yes; though he has been dismissive about the uproar, this is far from the first time he has dabbled in alignment with alt-right beliefs, and he’s previously faced backlash for this type of incident so many times that it now seems more than a little intentional. But PewDiePie and his supporters say his critics are overreacting to a harmless mistake — all while tens of thousands of new subscribers have followed the anti-Semitic channel based on PewDiePie’s brief endorsement.
Later that year, YouTube came under criticism for showing inappropriate videos targeted at children and often featuring popular characters in violent, sexual or otherwise disturbing situations, many of which appeared on YouTube Kids and attracted millions of views. The term "Elsagate" was coined on the Internet and then used by various news outlets to refer to this controversy. On November 11, 2017, YouTube announced it was strengthening site security to protect children from unsuitable content. Later that month, the company started to mass delete videos and channels that made improper use of family friendly characters. As part as a broader concern regarding child safety on YouTube, the wave of deletions also targeted channels which showed children taking part in inappropriate or dangerous activities under the guidance of adults. Most notably, the company removed Toy Freaks, a channel with over 8.5 million subscribers, that featured a father and his two daughters in odd and upsetting situations. According to analytics specialist SocialBlade, it earned up to £8.7 million annually prior to its deletion.
On one side lies many overlapping subcultures that make up huge swaths of the YouTube populations: its tremendous gaming communities, including Let’s Play-ers, live streamers, machinima-style editors, and vloggers; its prank cultures and their overlap with stunt personalities like Jake and Logan Paul; and its increasingly insidious alt-right presence.
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ChuChu is largely making things up as it goes, responding—as any young company would—to what its consumers want. Despite the company’s earnest desire to educate the kids who watch its videos, it has not tried to use the lessons generated by previous generations of educational-TV makers. Its executives and developers don’t regularly work with academics who could help them shape their content to promote healthy development of young brains. So what effects are ChuChu’s shows having on kids? How does what it’s producing compare with whatever kids were watching before?
Some investors and others have renewed calls for more transparency from YouTube in light of accounting rules and recent questions raised by the Securities and Exchange Commission about its disclosures. They say YouTube has become a material part of Alphabet’s business and an important driver of its growth, warranting quarterly disclosure of its revenue, costs and profitability. Some investors are also arguing that the lack of disclosure around YouTube could potentially be undervaluing Alphabet.
If your end goal is to actually make money from videos, there’s a far better option than simply relying on your measly allocation of ad revenue. Instead, create a YouTube channel and build an audience. The primary goal is to engage this audience and build a brand name. Then, once you've established a reputation, begin driving traffic to your own landing pages where you can up-sell viewers with premium video content.
And though they don't appear to be huge revenue contributors at this point, the YouTube Red and YouTube TV subscription services can't be overlooked when trying to value the company. Particularly YouTube Red, which provides ad-free YouTube, some original shows and access to the Google Play Music service for $10 per month, and which led YouTube to become the top-grossing U.S. iPhone app in March. Later this year, Google plans to replace Google Play Music -- in many ways Red's weak link -- with YouTube Remix, a music service that's fully integrated with YouTube.
Observing that face-to-face communication of the type that online videos convey has been "fine-tuned by millions of years of evolution", TED curator Chris Anderson referred to several YouTube contributors and asserted that "what Gutenberg did for writing, online video can now do for face-to-face communication". Anderson asserted that it's not far-fetched to say that online video will dramatically accelerate scientific advance, and that video contributors may be about to launch "the biggest learning cycle in human history." In education, for example, the Khan Academy grew from YouTube video tutoring sessions for founder Salman Khan's cousin into what Forbes' Michael Noer called "the largest school in the world", with technology poised to disrupt how people learn. YouTube was awarded a 2008 George Foster Peabody Award, the website being described as a Speakers' Corner that "both embodies and promotes democracy." The Washington Post reported that a disproportionate share of YouTube's most subscribed channels feature minorities, contrasting with mainstream television in which the stars are largely white. A Pew Research Center study reported the development of "visual journalism", in which citizen eyewitnesses and established news organizations share in content creation. The study also concluded that YouTube was becoming an important platform by which people acquire news.
Though the furor around PewDiePie’s repeated antics has subsided after each of these incidents, his courting of alt-right ideas has not. Though he has never openly identified himself as a member or supporter of the alt-right, he has continued to like and promote channels run by alt-right-affiliated users, and earlier this year, he made a video in which he reviewed the right-wing personality and alt-right hero Jordan Peterson’s controversial self-help book. In the review, PewDiePie endorsed the book, called it a “fun” read, and said he would take some of its advice.
In January 2018, the 23-year-old elder Paul brother was kicked off YouTube’s Google Preferred program, which gives favorable ad rates to popular channels, after he filmed a video in Japan that showed an apparent suicide hanging from a tree. He apologized. His income from videos (pratfalls, pranks) and brand deals took a hit, but loyal fans kept his hefty merchandise business afloat.
ChuChu learns many lessons from parents, who provide the company with constant feedback. It heard from parents who questioned the diversity of its characters, who were all light-skinned; it now has two light-skinned and two dark-skinned main characters. It heard from parents who wondered about the toy guns in one video; it removed them. It heard from parents about an earlier version of the “Johny Johny” video, in which the little boy sleeps in a communal bed with his family, as is common in India; in a new version, he has his own room.