Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is almost precisely the problem that the rest of the media world finds itself in. Because quality is hard to measure, the numbers that exist are the ones that describe attention, not effect: views, watch time, completion rate, subscribers. YouTube uses those metrics, ostensibly objectively, when it recommends videos. But as Theodore Porter, the great historian of science and technology, put it in his book Trust in Numbers, “Quantification is a way of making decisions without seeming to decide.”
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Absent substantive oversight by regulators, in the late 1960s the calls for change entered a new, more creative phase. A group calling itself Action for Children’s Television began advocating for specific changes to programming for young kids. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting was formed in 1968 with government dollars. At the same time, Children’s Television Workshop began producing Sesame Street, and the forerunner to PBS, National Educational Television, began distributing Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. These shows were tremendously successful in creating genuinely educational television. By the time children’s programming got swept up into the growing cable industry, the big channels had learned a lot from the public model, which they incorporated into shows such as Dora the Explorer and Blue’s Clues.
This indirect, dog-whistle form of alt-right messaging is common for the channel, which deliberately uses pop culture imagery, mainly drawn from animated series like Death Note and in particular the Cartoon Network TV series Steven Universe, as a tool for spreading white supremacist propaganda. Some of the many examples littering the channel’s videos include frequent references to media creators and other public figures using the historically loaded slur “Jews,” and references to anti-Semitic conspiracy phraseology such as “the Jewish question,” a frequent alt-right dog whistle that refers to the “Endlösung der Judenfrage” — German for “Final Solution to the Jewish Question” and the official Nazi code language for planning and carrying out the Holocaust.
^ Popper, Ben (November 9, 2017). "YouTube says it will crack down on bizarre videos targeting children". The Verge. Archived from the original on November 16, 2017. In August of this year, YouTube announced that it would no longer allow creators to monetize videos which "made inappropriate use of family friendly characters." Today it's taking another step to try and police this genre.
There was some backlash over these new benchmarks, but frankly, the vast majority of people who lost their monetization privileges weren’t earning much anyway. Most channels make somewhere between $1.50 and $3 per thousand views, depending on their content and audience, and Google won’t even cut a paycheck for under $100 (or roughly 50,000 views — a pretty tall order for the average 14-year-old posting eyeliner tutorials). In other words, if you were looking for an easy side gig, YouTube was never the efficient choice.
YouTube has a set of community guidelines aimed to reduce abuse of the site's features. Generally prohibited material includes sexually explicit content, videos of animal abuse, shock videos, content uploaded without the copyright holder's consent, hate speech, spam, and predatory behavior.[312] Despite the guidelines, YouTube has faced criticism from news sources for content in violation of these guidelines.
In May 2011, 48 hours of new videos were uploaded to the site every minute,[23] which increased to 60 hours every minute in January 2012,[23] 100 hours every minute in May 2013,[24][25] 300 hours every minute in November 2014,[26] and 400 hours every minute in February 2017.[27] As of January 2012, the site had 800 million unique users a month.[28] It is estimated that in 2007 YouTube consumed as much bandwidth as the entire Internet in 2000.[29] According to third-party web analytics providers, Alexa and SimilarWeb, YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world, as of December 2016; SimilarWeb also lists YouTube as the top TV and video website globally, attracting more than 15 billion visitors per month.[1][30][31] In October 2006, YouTube moved to a new office in San Bruno, California.[32]
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