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YouTube Expands AI Detection to Age-Gate More Uploads

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YouTube has announced an expansion of its automated content detection process, which it currently uses to catch uploads which depict graphic violence, nudity or hate speech.

Now, YouTube will expand its usage of its AI tools to cover more types of rule violations, and subsequently classify more uploads that are not appropriate for users under the age of 18.

YouTube rule violations

As explained by YouTube:

“Today, our Trust & Safety team applies age-restrictions when, in the course of reviewing content, they encounter a video that isn’t appropriate for viewers under 18. Going forward, we will build on our approach of using machine learning to detect content for review, by developing and adapting our technology to help us automatically apply age-restrictions.”

When a video is age-restricted, users will need to be signed-in to view it.

“If they aren’t, they see a warning and are redirected to find other content that is age-appropriate. Our Community Guidelines include guidance to uploaders about when content should be age-restricted.” 

The expanded enforcement effort will help to keep younger users safe on the platform – which is no doubt a significant concern for the many parents trying to keep their kids entertained during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Indeed, in a recent survey, 64% of respondents indicated that they’ve been watching more YouTube content during the lockdown period, while to kids, YouTube stars are now key influencers, arguably more so than traditional TV presenters.

YouTube has been known to lead viewers down concerning rabbit holes at times, via its related video recommendations. With this new push, it should mean that fewer of those ‘Up Next’ clips end up leading younger viewers astray.

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And YouTube is expecting to see an increase in content tagged as ‘over 18 only’ as a result:

“Because our use of technology will result in more videos being age-restricted, our policy team took this opportunity to revisit where we draw the line for age-restricted content. After consulting with experts and comparing ourselves against other global content rating frameworks, only minor adjustments were necessary. Our policy pages have been updated to reflect these changes. All the changes outlined above will roll out over the coming months.”

Uploaders will be able to appeal any decision that they believe has been incorrectly applied, but YouTube says that it’s not anticipating the change to have any major impacts on creator revenue, because most of the impacted videos also violate its advertiser-friendly guidelines, and are therefore not eligible for ads either way.  

YouTube has been developing its systems on this front for some time. Last month, YouTube reported that between April and June this year, it removed 11,401,696 videos for violating its content rules, with the vast majority of them being automatically flagged by its systems.

YouTube community enforcement

As such, expanding its systems seems like a relatively safe bet – and again, with so many kids spending time on the platform, it’s an important move, which could have major positive benefits.

But it will also, no doubt, lead to false positives and mistaken restrictions. That could impact YouTube creators looking to monetize their content, but as with all of YouTube’s new rules, it only takes a little while for any adjustment, and creators can generally manage any impacts. 

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It’s also a key element in YouTube’s ad efforts. Back in 2017, various major brands pulled or reduced their YouTube ad spend after their ads were displayed alongside offensive content. That boycott reportedly cost YouTube millions in revenue, and is it what really sparked YouTube to improve its automated detection systems, which has now lead to this latest update.

At the same time, YouTube is under increasing pressure to reduce its reliance on humans for content moderation, with a new lawsuit being brought against the platform over PTSD claims from former moderation staff. As such, YouTube has significant motivation to boost its reliance on AI tools for the task, even if it does end up leading to more incorrect categorizations and restrictions.

In addition to this, YouTube’s also adding a new age verification process:

“As part of this process some European users may be asked to provide additional proof of age when attempting to watch mature content. If our systems are unable to establish that a viewer is above the age of 18, we will request that they provide a valid ID or credit card to verify their age.”

The update is in line with Europe’s evolving rules on digital content, including the revised Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) which was enacted last year. 

Socialmediatoday.com

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Meta’s Developing and ‘Ethical Framework’ for the Use of Virtual Influencers

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Meta's Developing and 'Ethical Framework' for the Use of Virtual Influencers


With the rise of digital avatars, and indeed, fully digital characters that have evolved into genuine social media influencers in their own right, online platforms now have an obligation to establish clear markers as to what’s real and what’s not, and how such creations can be used in their apps.

The coming metaverse shift will further complicate this, with the rise of virtual depictions blurring the lines of what will be allowed, in terms of representation. But with many virtual influencers already operating, Meta is now working to establish ethical boundaries on their application.

As explained by Meta:

From synthesized versions of real people to wholly invented “virtual influencers” (VIs), synthetic media is a rising phenomenon. Meta platforms are home to more than 200 VIs, with 30 verified VI accounts hosted on Instagram. These VIs boast huge follower counts, collaborate with some of the world’s biggest brands, fundraise for organizations like the WHO, and champion social causes like Black Lives Matter.”

Some of the more well-known examples on this front are Shudu, who has more than 200k followers on Instagram, and Lil’ Miquela, who has an audience of over 3 million in the app.

At first glance, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that this is not an actual person, which makes such characters a great vehicle for brand and product promotions, as they can be utilized 24/7, and can be placed into any environment. But that also leads to concerns about body image perception, deepfakes, and other forms of misuse through false or unclear representation.

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Deepfakes, in particular, may be problematic, with Meta citing this campaign, with English football star David Beckham, as an example of how new technologies are evolving to expand the use of language, as one element, for varying purpose.

The well-known ‘DeepTomCruise’ account on TikTok is another example of just how far these technologies have come, and it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where they could be used to, say, show a politician saying or doing something that he or she actually didn’t, which could have significant real world impacts.

Which is why Meta is working with developers and experts to establish clearer boundaries on such use – because while there is potential for harm, there are also beneficial uses for such depictions.

Imagine personalized video messages that address individual followers by name. Or celebrity brand ambassadors appearing as salespeople at local car dealerships. A famous athlete would make a great tutor for a kid who loves sports but hates algebra.

Such use cases will increasingly become the norm as VR and AR technologies are developed, with these platforms placing digital characters front and center, and establishing new norms for digital connection.

It would be better to know what’s real and what’s not, and as such, Meta needs clear regulations to remove dishonest depictions, and enforce transparency over VI use.

But then again, much of what you see on Instagram these days is not real, with filters and editing tools altering people’s appearance well beyond what’s normal, or realistic. That can also have damaging consequences, and while Meta’s looking to implement rules on VI use, there’s arguably a case for similar transparency in editing tools applied to posted videos and images as well.

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That’s a more complex element, particularly as such tools also enable people to feel more comfortable in posting, which no doubt increases their in-app activity. Would Meta be willing to put more focus on this element if it could risk impacting user engagement? The data on the impact of Instagram on people’s mental health are pretty clear, with comparison being a key concern.

Should that also come under the same umbrella of increased digital transparency?

It’s seemingly not included in the initial framework as yet, but at some stage, this is another element that should be examined, especially given the harmful effects that social media usage can have on young women.

But however you look at it, this is no doubt a rising element of concern, and it’s important for Meta to build guardrails and rules around the use of virtual influencers in their apps.

You can read more about Meta’s approach to virtual influencers here.





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Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps

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Meta Publishes New Guide to the Various Security and Control Options in its Apps


Meta has published a new set of safety tips for journalists to help them protect themselves in the evolving online connection space, which, for the most part, also apply to all users more broadly, providing a comprehensive overview of the various tools and processes that it has in place to help people avoid unwanted attention online.

The 32-page guide is available in 21 different languages, and provides detailed overviews of Meta’s systems and profile options for protection and security, with specific sections covering Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The guide begins with the basics, including password protections and enabling two-factor authentication.

It also outlines tips for Page managers in securing their business profiles, while there are also notes on what to do if you’ve been hacked, advice for protection on Messenger and guidance on bullying and harassment.

Meta security guide

For Instagram, there are also general security tips, along with notes on its comment moderation tools.

Meta security guide

While for WhatsApp, there are explainers on how to delete messages, how to remove messages from group chats, and details on platform-specific data options.

Meta security guide

There are also links to various additional resource guides and tools for more context, providing in-depth breakdowns of when and how to action the various options.

It’s a handy guide, and while there are some journalist-specific elements included, most of the tips do apply to any user, so it could well be a valuable resource for anyone looking to get a better handle on your various privacy tools and options.

Definitely worth knowing either way – you can download the full guide here.

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump

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Twitter bans account linked to Iran leader over video threatening Trump


Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with relatives of slain commander Qasem Soleimani ahead of the second anniverary of his death in a US drone strike in Iraq – Copyright POOL/AFP/File Tom Brenner

Twitter said Saturday it had permanently suspended an account linked to Iran’s supreme leader that posted a video calling for revenge for a top general’s assassination against former US president Donald Trump.

“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.

The account, @KhameneiSite, this week posted an animated video showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main accounts in various languages remain active. Last year, another similar account was suspended by Twitter over a post also appearing to reference revenge against Trump.

The recent video, titled “Revenge is Definite”, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.

According to Twitter, the company’s top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform.

The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.

As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Soleimani was the architect of its strategy in the Middle East.

He and his Iraqi lieutenant were killed by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.

Khamenei has repeatedly promised to avenge his death.

On January 3, the second anniversary of the strike, the supreme leader and ultraconservative President Ebrahim Raisi once again threatened the US with revenge.

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Trump’s supporters regularly denounce the banning of the Republican billionaire from Twitter, underscoring that accounts of several leaders considered authoritarian by the United States are allowed to post on the platform.



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