Watch this maker restore a WWI lighter made from a bullet

During World War I, skilled craftsmen stuck in trenches would fashion useful items from spent bullets and other war materials. Watch Canadian maker Steven from the Steven's Fix YouTube channel restore a century-old bullet lighter back to working condition. Read the rest

'Aerial America' series is now on YouTube

Aerial America is an informative and relaxing look at each US state entirely via aerial footage. The series is gradually being posted to YouTube, and as of this writing they have added all states alphabetically through Louisiana. Alaska's Call of the Wild is particularly nice. Read the rest

Top YouTube influencers canceled

Taylor Lorentz is chronicling internet drama brilliantly for the New York Times, and her latest report is on the quasi-downfall of two high-flying YouTubers, Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star. They exemplify the stereotype of YouTube influencers--vacuous narcissists, tireless producers, canny businessmen--facing ruin after years of attention-seeking at the borders of racism, sexism and general abuse. The internet is a permanent record and the ground is liquefying underfoot.

Dawson has racked up billions of views on YouTube, often by engaging in offensive humor. He has posted several videos in blackface, mocked those with disabilities, joked about bestiality, sexualized minors, and once spoke about “figuratively murdering someone.” On June 26, Mr. Dawson posted a teary apology to his channel, in which he tried to make amends for his past, declaring that he deserved to “lose everything.”

No sooner had his apology video posted than a clip of him pretending to sexually gratify himself to a photo of Willow Smith, then 11 years old, resurfaced and began to get shared widely.

That's just one of the most ostentatiously repulsive acts. The catalog of backstabbing, blackmail, and insider grossness is quite extensive and Lorentz packs in the links for anyone wanting to take a deep dive. What I like most about her work at the Times is how it illustrates a growing dissatisfaction at what social media companies actually did to the internet. They reinstituted the old hierarchies, then stocked them with all these perma-adolescent psychos.

YouTube's tolerance for abuse caused two knock-on problems: YouTube (especially its comment platform) was ignored by media except as a video hosting site, the culture growing there was ignored as a result, and the people emerging from that culture were (temporarily, it turns out) able to quietly ignore their own earlier work after gaining broader exposure. Read the rest

YouTube bans 6 channels for hate speech, white supremacists Stefan Molyneux, David Duke, and Richard Spencer among them

“We have strict policies prohibiting hate speech on YouTube.”

Fraudsters are shaking down YouTubers. Won't the company do anything to stop them?

Game From Scratch reports a harrowing experience — an anonymous threat to pay bitcoin or have false claims made about their game dev tutorials to YouTube — and a horrifying one to go with it: YouTube's automatic cooperation with the fraudster, total lack of human recourse, and loss of access to his channel after refusing to pay off the scammer.

Each time it was taken down, I appealed and it would be restored. After I didn’t pay the $50 in bitcoin, I started getting Circumvention of Technology notices for 3 of my videos. That ultimately resulted in a community strike and loss of access to my channel for a week (or until appealed). Thankfully those three takedowns were reversed in about 2 hours and channel privileges were restored.

Today I was just waiting for YouTube to restore my 2 year old Animate CC video… then to my shock, it was reviewed and found to be in violation!

The scam isn't complex or daring. You can do it by following a sheet of simple, foolproof instructions. It's barely more complex than demanding money from a YouTuber, filing complaints if they don't pay up, and cackling as YouTube automatically takes down the YouTuber's videos or even suspends their account access. Read the rest

"Dad, How Do I?" provides how-to videos for kids without dads.

The Dad, How Do I? YouTube channel is filled with practical "dadvice" tutorials, everything from how to shave to how to change a tire to how to love yourself.

Inspired by growing up without a father himself, the YouTuber created the channel in hopes that children without dads could find it and use it as a resource. There’s even a bungled dad joke or two thrown in for good measure.

Breathe in this wholesome content and find your faith in humanity restored, at least for an hour or two.

Read the rest

Staying "Fit for the Apocalypse" with punk icon Alice Bag

Richard Simmons gave his heart to the world. It was no small feat to be an energetic & effeminate fitness celebrity in the homophobic ‘80s, and yet he still rose to prominence and encouraged self respect at every size many years before it was cool. Richard’s videos didn’t just have us grapevining for our lives, he encouraged us to get there by loving ourselves.

But now that Richard has retired from the limelight to live a well-earned private life and we’ve long since worn out our VHS copies of Sweatin’ To The Oldies, where to turn for that special brand of campy lo-fi cardio? What if you’re not a hardcore exercise fiend trying to get into a titty flex contest with Terry Crews and are instead just looking for a fun way to keep that ass in motion while sheltering in place?

Legendary punk singer and Violence Girl author Alice Bag’s “Fit for the Apocalypse” workout videos on YouTube are a good place to start. Each episode is the length of a punk song, which isn’t always enough time for a proper workout but, you know, just stream them all consecutively and jog in place while you scrub through to the action. After years of being punished by crappy club music in every spin class ever, this is the exercise soundtrack you’ve been yearning for. Squat and punch along to cool new punk bands like the Linda Lindas and Amyl & the Sniffers or lunge to classics like The Tissues. Along with standard aerobics moves like the grapevine, get ready for new Alice Bag signature classics like "The Hallelejuah" and the “Tit-sa.” Read the rest

YouTube bans Covid quackery

YouTube says it will remove "unsubstantiated medical content", taking aim at quacks, conspiracy theorists and grifters using the platform to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief executive Susan Wojcicki said the media giant wanted to stamp out "misinformation on the platform". Mrs Wojcicki made the remarks on Wednesday during her first interview since the global coronavirus lockdown began.

"So people saying, ‘Take vitamin C, take turmeric, we’ll cure you,’ those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy,” she told CNN.

“Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy.”

YouTube has never cared about "misinformation on the platform" before and Wojcicki herself made a big show of readmitting previously-banned hate speech for vague free-speech reasons that nonetheless correspond to commercial incentives. This move suggests that the brightest legal minds conclude that platforming Covid-19 misinformation will come with a high price tag. Read the rest

Trump campaign buys '$1M+ a day' YouTube election day masthead ads: Reports

In the days leading up to the U.S. presidential election and on Election Day, YouTube's homepage will reportedly be advertising only one candidate: Donald Trump. Read the rest

Congress to Google's Sundar Pichai: Deal with climate change disinfo on YouTube

Congress is urging Google to take long-overdue action to stamp out ‘dangerous climate misinformation’ on YouTube. Read the rest

Warner claims ownership over the numbers 36 and 50, and demonetizes Youtube videos that incorporate them

Warner subsidiary Otter Media has a division called Fullscreen ("a social content company for talent and brands") that has been demonetizing Youtubers' videos that use the numbers 36 and 50 (and possibly other numbers, for all we know), claiming that their use of these integers is a copyright violation. Doing so allows Warner to steal the money that these Youtubers' videos would otherwise earn. Read the rest

YouTube moderators must sign agreement acknowledging they might get PTSD

Check your mental health at the door: YouTube moderators are forced to sign an agreement acknowledging the risk of PTSD if they want the job. The Verge's Casey Newton:

“I understand the content I will be reviewing may be disturbing,” reads the document, which is titled “Acknowledgement” and was distributed to employees using DocuSign. “It is possible that reviewing such content may impact my mental health, and it could even lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I will take full advantage of the weCare program and seek additional mental health services if needed. I will tell my supervisor/or my HR People Adviser if I believe that the work is negatively affecting my mental health.”

The PTSD statement comes at the end of the two-page acknowledgment form, and it is surrounded by a thick black border to signify its importance. It may be the most explicit acknowledgment yet from a content moderation company that the job now being done by tens of thousands of people around the world can come with severe mental health consequences.

The agreement protects them, not you. Read the rest

Youtube's Content ID has become the tool of choice for grifty copyfraudsters who steal from artists

Last year's EU Copyright Directive will require online services to install upload filters similar to Youtube's Content ID system, a $100m, voluntary tool that allows rightsholders to claim video and audio and either censor or earn money from any user videos that matches their claims. Read the rest

Major brands' ads are showing up on climate deniers' Youtube videos

Update: an earlier version of this article had the relationship between the ads and the videos reversed. We regret the error

Some of Youtube's most expensive advertising is being run against climate denial conspiracy videos, with ads from major brands like "Samsung, Uber, Nintendo, Showtime, Harley Davidson, and Warner Bros" as well as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund showing up on videos promoting conspiracy theories that deny climate change. Read the rest

New claim of YouTube copyright strike extortion (Update: Jukin Media responds)

Jukin Media, one of several media companies that acquires rights to viral video clips, has managed unlicensed use of such clips by monetizing them through YouTube's contentID system. But Jukin has now reportedly threatened to use copyright strikes to shut down a channel while privately demanding money from its operator. It's extortion, says the target, hit with a $6000 "bill" over brief snippets of media.

They email us with a bill and they charge us fifteen hundred dollars per clip that was in our videos. And so today we got hit with a huge bill of six thousand dollars. I think it's because in the past we've we've paid them this amount of money, so they just they're like hey this guy's willing to pay this money, let's keep you know charging him for it, he'll just pay us. So we've paid about two thousand dollars in total and now we have another six thousand dollars to pay and if you don't pay then basically they'll start striking your channel.

To publish on YouTube, you agree to let YouTube define and enforce a private regime far more expansive than copyright law provides, with no effective provisions for fair use beyond a lengthy process likely to end with your channel shut down. YouTube claims not to arbitrate copyright, but no-one is fooled: it immediately enforces claims on the basis of a promiscuous algorithmic matching system designed from the ground up to serve claimants, while burdening targets with legal process and its own opaque policy-enforcement bureacracy. Read the rest

Youtube declares John Lennon's classic "Happy Xmas" to be "offensive content"

Robbo sez, "As is my wont, I post on social media at this time of year John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Happy Xmas (War Is Over) official YouTube video. It is an anthem for peace and the end of war. This year it has been labelled as "inappropriate content" and requires viewers to sign in to confirm they are 18 years or older. Yes, there are images of war and suffering within the video - but for cryin' out fuckin' loud, YouTube, it's something that deserves and should be seen and heard by everyone, all the damned time - such dumb ass fuckery is going to be the end of our so-called civilization." Read the rest

A song about the Tories, for anyone confused about this Thursday's election

Andy Moore writes, "My friend the marvelous Ms. Truelove Waits made a song containing election advice for anyone in the UK confused about who to vote for this Thursday." (I am a member of the Labour Party and a donor to the 2019 campaign). Read the rest

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