Regulation is Coming to YouTube, and It’s Going to be Ugly
For a company focused on the bottom line, running 100 parallel versions of your platform doesn’t make sense. Welcome to the era of lowest common denominator regulation
Mark the date in your calendars: YouTube changed today.
The digital video platform, which has battled repeated negative headlines in the last two years, published new terms of service for its users in the European Union and Switzerland last month. Hardly anyone noticed.
The rules beef up the power of the video sharing platform to remove access to users who cause harm to the reputation of the service, or harm its users.
The new terms of service for European users also make clearer the requirement for users of the website to be 13 years old or older, otherwise their parents bear the responsibility for their actions — crucial given an imminent ruling by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about YouTube’s compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA, which stops online services tracking children under the age of 13), as first reported by The Washington Post, which over the weekend said that the FTC had settled with YouTube.
Today, the new rules came into force across 29 countries — and at a stroke YouTube became fractured.
Users who access the platform from different corners of the world — the site has around 100 localized versions worldwide, covering 95% of the internet’s users, except China, where the ruling Communist party’s censorship was seen as too difficult to comply with — all see different versions of the site already. An analysis of the top trending videos in different countries published earlier this year by Mitchell Jolly, a computing science student at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, showed that YouTube promotes different videos on its Trending tab depending on that market’s taste. Certain creators transcend the international date line and national boundaries. Others don’t.