In the Face of Regulation Threats, YouTube Is Still Making Money Hand Over Fist

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As the deluge of damaging Facebook protection continues, the query of whether or not it should quantity to something is rising extra acute. Overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of element in inner paperwork offered by whistleblower Frances Haugen, lawmakers appear to have zeroed in on a very poignant subject: the impact of social media on youngsters. According to a Wall Street Journal story published before the flood gates really opened, Facebook was conscious that Instagram, its well-liked photo-sharing app, brought about some teen women to develop physique picture points and aggravated their consuming issues. In one other inner firm research, 13.5% of teenage women in the U.Okay. stated Instagram made their suicidal ideas worse.

Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, have gotten the lion’s share of blowback for ignoring these findings. But different social media firms have been dragged into the chaos. During a Senate shopper safety subcommittee hearing this week on “protecting kids online,” lawmakers grilled representatives from TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube—the final of which has flown below the radar considerably—over their influence on the youth. “Being different from Facebook is not a defense,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, the subcommittee’s chairman. “That bar is in the gutter. It’s not a defense to say that you are different.”

Notably, YouTube was the solely firm of the three that did not commit to creating inner findings obtainable to the committee. When Blumenthal requested Leslie Miller, YouTube’s V.P. of authorities affairs and public coverage, if YouTube offers “external independent researchers with access to your algorithms and data sets and data privacy practices,” Miller supplied a conditional response, saying that “it would depend on the details.” Though, Miller did respond affirmatively when Senator Ed Markey requested if YouTube would assist his laws that might ban adverts concentrating on youngsters. “The problem is clear: Big Tech preys on children and teens to make more money,” Markey stated at one level. “Now is the time for the legislative solutions to these problems.”

In response to a query from Senator Cynthia Lummis about whether or not the firm gauges success by the size of time customers spend consuming content material on the website, Miller stated YouTube appears at “if a video was watched through its entirety.” When requested about social media’s position in exacerbating self-image points amongst younger individuals, Miller said YouTube bans “content that promotes or glorifies such things as eating disorders…but we also realize that users come and share their stories about these experiences,” earlier than purporting that the overwhelming majority of content material that violates the website’s neighborhood tips is initially “flagged by machines“ before being passed along to “a mix of human reviewers.”

Of course, the context for questions on regulation is whether or not tech firms are literally motivated to alter the manner they function. YouTube’s Q3 earnings report, which was launched this week, suggests it might not see a purpose to alter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, YouTube introduced in a whopping $7.2 billion in promoting income in the third quarter, amounting to an annual enhance of 43%, per CNN’s Oliver Darcy. In reality, it fell simply quick of Netflix, which introduced in $7.5 billion in the identical time interval. Blumenthal and Markey can saber-rattle all they need, however Miller—and CEO Susan Wojcicki—are unquestionably coming from a spot of energy. Which means they could not see match to repair what, so far as their backside line is anxious, isn’t damaged in the first place.

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