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Creators of child-directed content will be financially impacted by the changes required by the FTC settlement, YouTube admitted today. The settlement will end the use of children’s personal data for ad-targeting purposes, the FTC said. To address creators’ concerns over their businesses, YouTube also announced a $ 100 million fund to invest in original children’s content.

The fund, distributed over three years, will be dedicated to the creation of “thoughtful” original content for YouTube, the company says.

“We know 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 on YouTube,” wrote YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in a blog post. “We recognize this won’t be easy for some creators and are committed to working with them through this transition and providing resources to help them better understand these changes.”

YouTube plans to share more information about the fund and its plans in the weeks ahead.

In addition, YouTube said today it’s “rethinking” its overall approach the YouTube kids and family experience.

This could go towards fixing some of the other problems raised by the consumer advocacy groups who prompted the FTC investigation. The groups weren’t entirely pleased by the settlement, as they believed it was only scratching the surface of YouTube’s issue.

“It’s extremely disappointing that the FTC isn’t requiring more substantive changes or doing more to hold Google accountable for harming children through years of illegal data collection,” said Josh Golin, the Executive Director for the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), a group that spearheaded the push for an investigation. “A plethora of parental concerns about YouTube – from inappropriate content and recommendations to excessive screen time – can all be traced to Google’s business model of using data to maximize watch time and ad revenue,” he added.

Google already began to crack down on some of these concerns, independent of an FTC requirement, however.

To tackle the scourage of inappropriate content targeting minors, YouTube in August expanded its child safety policies to remove — instead of only restrict, as it did before — any “misleading family content, including videos that target younger minors and their families, those that contain sexual themes, violence, obscene, or other mature themes not suitable for younger audiences.”

Separately, YouTube aims to address the issues raised around promotional content in videos.

For example, a video with kids playing with toys could be an innocent home movie or it could involve a business agreement between the video creator and a brand to showcase the products in exchange for free merchandise or direct payment.

The latter should be labeled as advertising, as required by YouTube, but that’s often not the case. And even when ads are disclosed, it’s impossible for young children to know the difference between when they’re being entertained and when they’re being marketed to.

There are also increasing concerns over the lack of child labor laws when it comes to children performing in YouTube videos, which has prompted some parents to exploit their kids for views or even commit child abuse.

YouTube’s “rethinking” of its kids’ experience should also include whether or not it should continue to incentivize the creation of these “kid influencer” and YouTube family videos, where little girls and boys’ childhoods have become the source of parents’ incomes.

YouTube’s re-evaluation of the kids’ experience comes at a time when the FTC is also thinking of how to better police general audience platforms on the web, where some content is viewed by kids. The regulator is hosting an October workshop to discuss this issue, where it hopes to come up with ways to encourage others to develop kid-safe zones, too.


TechCrunch

YouTube has teamed up with Universal Music Group to remaster nearly a thousand classic music videos, the companies announced today, including those from from Billy Idol, Beastie Boys, Boyz II Men, George Strait, Janet Jackson, Kiss, Lady Antebellum, Lady Gaga, Lionel Richie, Maroon 5, Meat Loaf, No Doubt/Gwen Stefani, Smokey Robinson, The Killers, Tom Petty, and others.

Many of the most iconic music videos on YouTube were only available in the “outdated standards originally intended for tube televisions with mono speakers,” YouTube explained in an announcement. But today, people watch videos across a number of platforms — desktop, mobile, and TV — and they often do so in high-definition. The old videos didn’t hold up.

With the new partnership, both the video and audio quality will be updated to the highest standards, then the new videos will slide in to take the place of the existing SD versions. They’ll also retain the same URL on YouTube as well as all the view-counts and likes, instead of arriving as new content.

As of today, the companies have already updated over 100 music videos including the following:

The plan is to fully upgrade nearly 1,000 over the next year, with plans to have all 1,000 titles available before year-end 2020. More videos will arrive on a weekly basis as this program continues, YouTube says.

The videos will be available exclusively on YouTube and YouTube Music — the latter ahead of a planned merger with Google Play Music. 

You’ll be able to tell if a YouTube music video has been through the upgrading process because it will read “Remasted” in the video’s description.

“It’s really an honor to partner with Universal Music Group and change the way fans around the globe will experience viewing some of the most classic and iconic videos. The quality is truly stunning,” said Stephen Bryan, Global Head of Label Relations at YouTube, in a statement. “It’s our goal to ensure that today’s music videos — true works of art — meet the high-quality standards that artists’ works deserve and today’s music fans expect.”

“We’re excited to partner with YouTube to present these iconic music videos in the highest audio and video quality possible,” added Michael Nash, Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy at UMG. “Our recording artists and video directors imbued these videos with so much creativity; it’s great to enable the full experience of their vision and music. These videos not only look amazing on any screen now, they will be enjoyed by music fans for decades to come.”


TechCrunch

Pratilipi, an app that is uniting writers in India and encouraging others to try their hand at storytelling, has just raised $ 15 million to expand its network in the nation.

The Series B financing round was led by Qiming Venture Partners. Existing investors Nexus Venture Partners, Omidyar Network India, Shunwei Capital, Contrarian Vriddhi Fund, and WEH Ventures also participated in the round. The five-year-old startup has raised about $ 21 million to date.

Ranjeet Pratap Singh, CEO of Pratilipi, describes his platform as “YouTube for writers.” In an interview with TechCrunch, he said more than 100,000 writers are active on the platform and it has amassed over 5.2 million monthly active readers.

Pratilipi mostly focuses on text and audio storytelling in Indian languages, a niche space but one that also remains largely untapped. Singh said that the platform has managed to attract a very loyal reader base. An average reader spends about 53 minutes on the app, while web users spend about 15 minutes there.

As people from smaller cities and towns in India come online for the first time, there has been a huge surge in the demand for content in local languages in recent years. Ankush Sachdeva, CEO and cofounder of social networking platform ShareChat, said earlier this year that he was surprised to see how quickly ShareChat had built a community with tens of millions of users by just offering content in Indian languages.

Pratilipi currently serves no ads to its users, but writers on the platform also do not have a way to directly monetize their content. That’s part of what Singh intends to change with the fresh capital.

He said that Pratilipi will soon begin to purchase rights to some stories and help writers secure deals with movie and web series studios and publishing houses. A significant portion of the capital will go into engineering to improve stories recommendations that populate the platform.

“Pratilipi is well positioned to capture the next wave of internet users in India, who prefer to consume content in their own vernacular languages. The company has already built a strong community of readers and writers, and network effects provide strong barriers to entry,” said Helen Pei-Hua Wong, Partner at Qiming Venture Partners.

“In China, we have seen the fast growth of user-generated content platforms, some of which became the main source of entertainment for millions of internet users. We hope to share our experiences in China to help the company grow,” she added.

Pratilipi competes with YourQuote, which has raised about $ 1 million to date. YourQuote runs short stories on its app and organizes open mic events across various cities and towns for writers and poets. In many ways, Pratilipi also competes with ShareChat, Helo, and Vmate, all of which have built social networks around text and media content.


TechCrunch

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