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.


Arab News launches Japanese-language online edition

Updated 22 October 2019

Arab News launches Japanese-language online edition

  • News website in both Japanese and English is part of a more digital and more global direction of the Middle East’s leading English language daily

TOKYO: Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English language daily, has launched an eagerly awaited Japanese-language online edition as part of its ongoing global expansion.

As a symbol of the cordial business, trading and cultural relations between the Kingdom and Japan, arabnews.jp commenced coverage to coincide with the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito in the Japanese capital.

The news website, which is available in both Japanese and English, will focus on enabling exchange of information between Japan and the Arab world in business, current affairs as well as arts and culture.

Speaking at a ceremony marking the launch of Arab News Japan on Oct. 21, Taro Kono, Japan’s defense minister, said: “It will be good to have news in Japanese so many Japanese can read about the Arab world.

“I think the Middle East has a lot to offer. Yes, I saw we import a lot of oil and we export a lot of Toyota, but I think our relations need to go beyond that. Japan is racially and religiously very neutral, and we have no negative footprint in history, so we can be a good broker in conflict in the Middle East and that’s what we should be doing.

“So when I was foreign minister, I opened up in Japan new political dialogue, and that was the first time we did it in Cairo, and we are supposed to do it sometime this year for the second time, and I visited almost every single country in the Middle East except Libya, Yemen and Syria, but I guess I visited almost all the rest of the countries, and some several times.

“We share the common values, we have a high respect for the elders and we think that the family is very important values, so we stay in the east of the Asian continent and the “Middle East” in the “West” (of the continent), kind of funny, but we share the common values, and to me we are friends and I think we need to work together.

“In order to do that we need to know what people in the Middle East are actually thinking, what is happening on daily basis and we haven’t got the source for that but now Arab News is now in Japan, and they are going to start news in Japanese. And I bet they would carry news in Japan in Arabic as well, so this is a very good means to exchange the information between the middle east and Japan, so I am very much looking forward to it and this is the beginning of a new era. Our emperor has enthronement ceremony tomorrow, so I mean there can be no better way to start this endeavor. So, welcome Arab News.”

The Japanese-language edition is the first in a foreign language – and the second under the Arab News brand following the highly successful launch of the Pakistan edition.

The content of arabnews.jp is a mix of original reporting from both the Middle East and Japan and translated feed of some of Arab News’s most important news and views.

Arab News is part of the regional publishing group Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region for over 40 years.

Faisal J. Abbas, Arab News editor-in-chief had announced the Japanese-language edition project at the G1 Global conference in Tokyo on Sept. 16, describing it as “part of our more digital, more global direction.”

He had added: “We hope that the new service arabnews.jp helps bring about a better mutual understanding of both our rich cultures and become a trusted communication channel where our friends in Japan can rely on us for credible information and insightful analysis.”

In the Arab world, Saudi Arabia is one of Japan’s most important economic partners. A major part of Japan’s energy imports come from Saudi Arabia.

The Kingdom imports manufactured goods and electronic equipment from Japan, and is a significant destination for Japanese financial investment.

In his speech on the occasion, Majid Al-Qasabi, Saudi Arabia’s Minister for Commerce and Investment said: “We flew from Riyadh to Dubai and from Dubai to Tokyo. I am very honored to be among you here today.

“Japan is a long reliable strategic partner and friend. Since 1955, business has been great between the two countries, we appreciate all the cooperation, the partnerships and the business with the Japanese community. The kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a special relation, especially the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia with the new Emperor.

“We hope that Japan will have a fruitful future and I would like to congratulate Arab News, this is a great opportunity, a moment in history, at least we should be present here with our friends in Japan.”

Also at the launch ceremony was Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo and the first woman ever to hold the post. “I want to congratulate Arab News on the launch of their Japanese edition,” she told the audience.

“And this is wonderful news for me in particular as I have worked to strengthen ties between Japan and the Middle East for so many years.

Koike is no stranger to the Middle East or the Arab world. She studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo, graduating in sociology, and spent five years in Cairo in the 1970s, a time she thinks of fondly.

“After college and as a journalist I had the opportunity to interview many Arab leaders, as a member of the Diet and when visiting the Middle East from time to time.

“I tried to create numerous opportunities to create mutual understanding in Japan and Arab countries.

“And since being elected as governor of Tokyo, I am always inviting many Islamic diplomats and ambassadors from Islamic countries to celebrate the Iftar during Ramadan.

“We are nine months away from the start of the 2020 Games in Tokyo, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is creating a welcoming environment for international tourists and of course those from the Islamic countries.

“I hope these visitors – especially those from Saudi Arabia – can visit with peace of mind and comfort, in Tokyo where tradition and innovation coexist.

“I hope Arab News will be able to act as a bridge to promote mutual understanding between Japan and Saudi Arabia and all the Middle East.”

In an exclusive interview to Arab News in July this year, Koike had said she believed Saudi Arabia was moving in the right direction, referring to women’s empowerment and the changes happening in the country under Vision 2030.

“The challenge in what is going on in Saudi Arabia is really meaningful to enrich the Saudi culture and Saudi society, to make it richer and more diverse,” she had said.

Incidentally, Saudi officials are working with their Japanese counterparts on the formal handover for the G20 leaders’ summit, which will take place in the Kingdom next year, following the highly successful event held in Osaka, Japan, in June.

At that event, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, that Japan was a country dear to the hearts of all Saudis.

“We will work together to prepare for the G20 summit 2020 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the Crown Prince said.

For his part, Abe had praised the Kingdom’s progress in accordance with the Vision 2030 strategy.