YouTube to use machine learning to detect and age restrict content

YouTube have announced their plans to go even harder on age restricting content with expansion of their automatic detection technology.

YouTube have been enforcing stricter rules on how content is graded on their platform and who is able to view them. In an attempt to simultaneously make YouTube a safer platform for younger audiences and to appease their advertisers position on videos, YouTube have been age-restricting videos they deem to contain adult content.

There have been two significant moves to truly separate content that is and isn’t appropriate for younger audiences. The launch of YouTube Kids, curated just for users under 13 has provided a standalone platform of age-appropriate content, and age-restrictions on certain videos which require a sign-in from an account of someone over 18 to watch.

Deeper use machine-learning to detect mature content

The second measure is being expanded as YouTube have announced deeper use of machine-learning technology to detect mature content. Once detected, videos will be age-restricted and require a sign-in from an adult account.

Users are able to appeal the decision if they feel their content is suitable for under 18s but it is at YouTube’s discretion what they deem to be eligible and what they don’t. Considering most mature videos “violate” YouTube’s advertising guidelines it is unlikely to affect revenues but may impact on view count.

YouTube will review their policies for fairness

Many users have been unhappy about the increasing restrictions on YouTube but with pressure from advertisers they’ve needed to find a balance between the huge catalogue of mature content which many people enjoy on YouTube and the advertisers unwillingness to support it.

YouTube have promised to review their policies on what constitutes an age-rating on YouTube. They wish to assure users that, with increasing measures, they are applying restrictions only where necessary and justified.

European users may be asked to provide proof of age

With their expansion of age-restriction, YouTube will be requiring age verification from certain audiences in Europe. Users might be asked to provide proof of their age to access content for over-18s or else might be restricted from viewing any content that requires verification.

These enforcements will all be increasing over the next few months.

TikTok plan 20% sale to Oracle, seek a U.S. based IPO, Trump demands “total control”

TikTok have confirmed their plans for the future following Trump’s pressure on the app’s place in the United States.

After the U.S. announced last week that they would ban TikTok from US app stores on the 20th September, ByteDance have spoken. The Beijing-based company have confirmed that they will sell 20% to Oracle who will become their “trusted technology partner” and Walmart their “commercial partner” for operating in the US.

The Trump administration, with pressure from the president, ordered that TikTok sell their U.S. operations based on security concerns of citizens data with the Chinese company. Some commentators have pointed out that their new deals with U.S. companies don’t resolve the security concerns of many U.S. users.

ByteDance have announced that they will now seek to launch an Initial Public Offering in the U.S. to sell stock in an effort to “further enhance corporate governance and transparency”. It seems that they’re not going to split the app between territories to get over the U.S. problem, with plans to list their company as ‘TikTok Global’.

Since the statements from ByteDance, Trump has now put their solutions into question. He stated that the US companies “are going to have total control of [TikTok]” and that if they don’t then “we just won’t make the deal”.

He had previously given his approval over the Oracle sale but now it’s unclear whether any form of deal will work for TikTok other than a huge sale of U.S. operations in full. He added: “If we find [Oracle & Walmart] don’t have total control, then we are not going to approve the deal.”

TikTok will be banned on US app stores from Sunday

TikTok is officially being banned from stores this weekend in the US with the potential to become illegal to download in the coming months.

Trump threatened to ban TikTok, claiming that it’s creators ByteDance had access to US citizen data. The US department of Commerce will now be banning the video sharing app this Sunday, 20th of September from app stores.

After that they have until the 12th of November to secure a deal or the app will be banned outright, warns the US government. If fully banned in November, it would make it technically illegal for citizens to download the social app.

WeChat has also been banned from US app stores under similar circumstances. Donald Trump has revealed that he spoke to Walmart about a possible deal with TikTok, and that his administration had spoken to Oracle who looked set to take over US operations for TikTok earlier this week.

As of yet, nothing has been confirmed and the huge social app’s future in the US looks shaky.

Now YouTube are doing a TikTok too with YouTube Shorts

Following TikTok’s success and then this year’sInstagram’s Reels, YouTube have just dedicated a new space to short and sweet videos.

YouTube have just released ‘Shorts’, a new short-form video format for quick and snappy content. Taking after the success of multiple platforms in recent years who have discovered the fascination and popularity around the world of short dance trends, funny videos, and easy to share content.

Just like TikTok and similar platforms, you record Shorts straight from your phone and add a musical soundtrack, adjust the speed of your video and more. They’re the latest to get on the TikTok hype after Instagram launched Reels earlier this year.

  • Create: Creation is at the core of short-form video, and we want to make it easy and fun to create Shorts. We’re starting to test just a few new tools for creators and artists with our early beta in India: 
    • multi-segment camera to string multiple video clips together,
    • The option to record with music from a large library of songs that will continue to grow,
    • Speed controls that give you the flexibility to be creative in your performance,
    • And a timer and countdown to easily record, hands-free.

YouTube have launched Shorts in a beta in India to test it out whilst they look to add new features and launch it further. They are actively looking from feedback from users to build and improve the new platform as they expand it over the next few months.

Watch Facebook videos with your friends with Messenger’s new feature

At a time when we’re more apart than ever before, Facebook are letting us watch content together from our own homes with a new Messenger feature.

Facebook have launched ‘Watch Together’, a new feature for Messenger which lets a group of people watch videos online at the same time. It comes at an important time as we’ve all had to turn to online platforms to stay in touch with friends and loved ones a lot more.

With Facebook’s new feature they want to “replicate that experience of sitting together on the couch”. Up to eight people can watch videos together in a Messenger call and up to 50 people can take part in a Messenger Room.

Once in a call or Messenger Room you can swipe up to see whats available in ‘TV & Movies’, ‘Watched’, and ‘Uploaded’ as well as searching specifically for videos to watch. Viewers can watch videos in both landscape and portrait view, each choosing their preferred option for their own stream.

According to Facebook, Messenger hosts around 150 million video calls every single day. When it comes to sharing videos with each other, 200 million videos are shared between people on a daily basis.

The feature has already been popular with users, particularly younger users. Messenger’s head at Facebook, Stan Chudnovsky says: “The younger you are, the more you like it.”

TikTok propose Oracle for Trump-mandated US handover

TikTok have potentially decided on their new partner to take over data operations in the US following President Trump’s threats.

Last month, ol’ Don Trump threatened the huge social video app TikTok with a shutdown over security concerns. Largely because of the origin of the app’s creators Bytedance, China, Trump suggested that US citizens data could be accessed in Beijing.

Bytedance have strongly denied this, saying they have taken “extraordinary measures to protect the privacy and security of TikTok’s US user data”. However they have taken measures to hand over operations to a US-based service to avoid any conflict.

US tech company Oracle have confirmed that TikTok has proposed the idea to them of becoming their “trusted technology partner”. US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin said this week that the Trump administration had been contacted by them to discuss making TikTok’s headquarters US-based.

TikTok has a huge following of 100 million users in the US and as such are clearly very anxious not to leave the market. TikTok released a statement confirming a proposal to the Treasury Department, however avoided mentioning Oracle specifically.

“This proposal would enable us to continue supporting our community of 100 million people in the US who love TikTok for connection and entertainment, as well as the hundreds of thousands of small business owners and creators who rely upon TikTok to grow their livelihoods and build meaningful careers.”

Carolina Milanesi, of the Silicon Valley located research firm Creative Strategies, said: “While I can see the upside for Oracle from a cloud perspective, it is hard not to think how much of this deal rests on politics rather than tech.”

Apple accidently leak Apple One subscription bundle

The latest Apple Music beta on Android reveals an upcoming bundle of their subscription services, with references to “Apple One” and “Subscription bundle”.

An Apple subscription bundle has been rumoured for quite some time. The latest leak coming directly from Apple themselves, as spotted by 9to5Google in the source code for Apple Music beta on Android. The beta includes many of the new features coming to Apple Music in iOS 14, such as a revamped Now Playing screen and a new Listen Now section. Strings of code were found in the APK in plain text, mentioning the “Subscription bundle” and “Apple One”, as well as how to manage your Apple One subscription from an iPhone, iPad, Mac or Apple TV.

Apple are thought to be using a tiered approach, starting with Apple Music and Apple TV+, then having optional extras including Apple Arcade, Apple News+ and extra iCloud storage. Apple One will likely be heavily marketed towards families, with support for Apple’s Family Sharing feature, that allows multiple people to share services.

We are unsure exactly what discount will be applied when subscribing to multiple services. Apple One is expected to be announced at either the September 15th event with the release of iOS 14, or an October iPhone 12 event.

T-Series are taking legal action against Indian short-video apps over un-licensed music

Indian music label and film production company T-Series have filed a lawsuit and copyright violation notices against many short-video apps.

TikTok has licensing agreements in place with many labels and publishers, however in TikTok’s absence in India, many short-video apps have popped up in the country, with a similarly heavy focus on music, but not necessarily the same licenses.

The Deccan Chronicle report that T-Series are taking legal action, filing a lawsuit against app Roposo. T-Series is also seeking for 3.5 crore rupees (around $476.5k) in damages from “many social video platforms, including Bolo Indya, Mitron, MX Player’s Takatak, Triller and Josh,” issuing copyright violation notices.

The only service to respond is Bolo Indya’s founder, stating that any infringing videos have been migrated across from other apps.

We are a UGC (user generated content) platform and due to the ban of Chinese applications, a lot of content creators started to upload those videos which they created on those apps. These videos weren’t created on our platform and any such video reported from time to time, where any possible breach of IPR is there, is immediately removed from the platform.

Varun Saxena, Founder and CEO, Bolo Indya

T-Series and other labels are hoping that these short-video apps can be pushed into properly licensing music on their platforms.

Why is Tencent’s WeSing karaoke platform so popular in Asia?

WeSing, from Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent, is a social karaoke app, thriving as many KTV venues around Asia close during the pandemic.

Karaoke is popular in all forms and among all ages in China. The Chinese Government’s 2019 China Music Industry Development Report valued the karaoke sector at RMB 101.07bn ($14.8bn), up 12.3% year-on-year, partially helped by the growth of online karaoke platforms such as WeSing.

With karaoke bars closed around the world during the pandemic, WeSing is providing Asian users with the next best thing. Known as K Song in China, WeSing is also available in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. WeSing represents 77% of all online karaoke users in China and is especially popular among a younger, wealthier demographic living in major cities. 50.3% of users are between 25-29 years old.

WeSing is a free app on iPhone and Android with millions of instrumental covers of top songs, allowing you to easily record your vocals, add filters and effects, and share privately or with friends. Online karaoke platforms remove the public embarrassment aspect and gives users the option of re-recording/tweaking their performances. Social elements helps users connect and sing with friends, with virtual communities around favourite songs, ice-breaker games and group chat functions. Occasionally even connecting you to sing with superstar artists.

Tencent reported 1.6 million users tuned into their livestreamed concert on K Song that featured 50 popular artists performing on the virtual stage.

Download on the App Store or Google Play Store.

TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns just three months after joining the company

After leaving Disney+ as Head of Streaming in May, Kevin Mayer was appointed CEO of TikTok. Three months later, Mayer cited political reasons for his departure.

Kevin Mayer took the role at TikTok in May. This move gave Chinese-owned TikTok an American face to a platform facing increasing concerns over security from the US Government.

Since May, Trump has signed an executive order forcing TikTok to cease operations in the US, unless a deal can be reached with a US company. Microsoft, Twitter and Oracle have all shown interest in buying TikTok from ByteDance, with Microsoft in talks with Walmart to help on the financial and e-commerce end of the platform, however Walmart’s precense in China could complicate the deal in getting an approval from the Trump administration.

In a letter to employees, Mayer hints at big changes for TikTok on the horizon and claims his role would change if an American company were to acquire the US end. Australian General Manager Vanessa Pappas will lead the company going forward.

We appreciate that the political dynamics of the last few months have significantly changed what the scope of Kevin’s role would be going forward, and fully respect his decision. We thank him for his time at the company and wish him well.

TikTok in a statement

The full letter from Mayer reads:

Colleagues,

I decided to join this company this spring because ByteDance is utterly unique and it offered the opportunity to play a leadership role in a company that is changing the global internet landscape. Since joining, I have been incredibly impressed with the team and the company.

In recent weeks, as the political environment has sharply changed, I have done significant reflection on what the corporate structural changes will require, and what it means for the global role I signed up for. Against this backdrop, and as we expect to reach a resolution very soon, it is with a heavy heart that I wanted to let you all know that I have decided to leave the company.

I want to be clear that this decision has nothing to do with the company, what I see for our future, or the belief I have in what we are building. Yiming understands my decision and I thank him for his support on this.

As we look to the next phase of this company, there is no doubt that the future is incredibly bright. For our users, any potential structural changes should not affect their experience, and I strongly believe that our community will be more creative and diverse than ever. The platform will continue to provide our global community an amazing and integrated experience as it does today. Similarly, from an employee perspective, I believe that the vast majority of work will be unchanged.

At the same time, I understand that the role that I signed up for–including running TikTok globally–will look very different as a result of the US Administration’s action to push for a sell off of the US business. I’ve always been globally focused in my work, and leading a global team that includes TikTok US was a big draw for me.

The great news is that the TikTok team will be in the incredibly capable hands of Vanessa, who will serve as interim head for TikTok globally. She has fearlessly led operations in the US, and won the trust of our employees, creators, users, and partners. I am extremely grateful for the time that I was able to work with her and wish her success.

In my short time here, I have been amazed at the passion and dedication of our teams, particularly given the political criticism that we have faced. Like all companies in our space, we face challenges, but I have tremendous confidence that we have a world-class security team in place working to make people on our platform safe, and an amazing global team that makes this such a unique, creative, and inclusive platform.

Thank you for all of your work during this period, and at heart I will always be a member of the ByteDance team, rooting for all of you.

Sincerely,
Kevin