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YouTubes adpocalypse super-secret/hidden (since removed) codes

December 01, 2017, 09:14:03 PM by kat


IMPORTANT NOTE: in the time since the videos discussing this issue went live on the 29th November, and writing the below (30th/1st), YouTube appears to have removed all traces of the 'secret demonetisation codes' from source. They can no longer be found using the search parameters outlined below. This literally (lidderally) happened whilst this post was being written (occurred some time between 29th Nov and 1st December). The fact the codes were removed without any notification or comment (at time of writing at least) could be considered odd to say the least.

• • •

In trying to get to the bottom of the YouTube video demonetisation #adpocolypse, the controversy seems to have taken a step or two into darker murkier waters, or so at least some commentators on the subject are saying, the TL:DR of which suggests YouTube makes use of super-secret hidden codes to "censor" YouTube Creators and their video content (this does not relate to/is separate from videos marked as "not eligible for monetisation"). Naturally this means doing some fact-checking.

So, do the 'super-secret codes' exit?. Yes (although the numbers are not exactly super-secret - see below, what they mean is (or was - see note above)).

Whilst all the alleged codes are time-consuming to verify a number of them can be found right-clicking a page in which a YouTube video appears and searching the html source for two markers, "excluded_ads" and "excludedAds", which can be found in two locations, both part of a script function, not just the one as described by the authors linked above.

With that said, not all videos carry the numbered tags; those that do, may not have been specifically content or ToS flagged; those that have been, don't necessarily continue to carry any if at all the tags once checked and/or remonetised (DMCA flagged videos, and those with other specific Copyright violations, don't seems to carry the tags once cleared).

The lack of transparency on this, at least in regards to the codes being 'behavioural markers' like the red-sticky spots teachers might place on a child's report card/progress report, is more than a little confusing and concerning. For example, the following video, "Easily export a map to Unity3D", has never been flagged or demonetised and yet it carries a number of the numerical tags being reported on, the critical values precede the "=";
Code: [Select]
Tag 1: "excluded_ads":"46=14_14;59=14_14;64=14_14;76=2_2_1,2_2_4",
Tag 2: "excludedAds":"46=14_14;59=14_14;64=14_14;76=2_2_1,2_2_4",

That's "46", "59", "64" and "76". These particular numbers appear common to almost all KatsBits videos, few of which have ever been flagged. So rather than being behavioural red marks, this fact perhaps hints at their likely being 'advert category identifiers'; "46" might be "personal care", or "Holidays and travel", both of which might be less valuable to Advertisers placed on education videos about Blender or content creation, so videos being tagged to identifying this incongruity makes sense.

In addition to this likely reason for some of the codes, the other half of the equation is a little more troubling because they do only appear on videos that have been flagged as "not suitable for most advertisers". For example the number "102" appears in code for the following video "Monday #imvufbx shenanigans w/ IMVU's JinxyWithMoji & CodeRodent" in addition to the aforementioned common codes;
Code: [Select]
"excluded_ads":"46=14_14;59=14_14;76=2_2_1,2_2_4;102=1_1,1_2_1,1_3,2_1,2_2_1,2_2_4,2_3,14_14,17_2_1,17_2_4",
"excludedAds":"46=14_14;59=14_14;76=2_2_1,2_2_4;102=1_1,1_2_1,1_3,2_1,2_2_1,2_2_4,2_3,14_14,17_2_1,17_2_4",

This is where things get a little more serious because the codes, it's being alleged, appear to be policy violation identifiers, content deemed to contain "Controversial issues and sensitive events", "Drugs and dangerous products or substances", "Harmful or dangerous acts", "Hateful content", "Inappropriate language", "Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters", "Incendiary and demeaning", "Sexually suggestive content" and/or "Violence". Each 'category' is assigned a unique tag that can be innocuously dropped into page source such that the KatsBits video linked above can be flagged with "102" identifying it as containing "Inappropriate language" (at least according to the research linked to up-top).

As discussed in a follow-up chat (also demonetised at time of writing), unless the word "but" is considered inappropriate it's difficult to imagine exactly how YouTubes system works aside from it automatically flagging 'live' videos, obligating Tubers to challenge, just so the process teaches the AI something or other about content flagging/making course corrections. Even if this were true, the implications for 'marking' certain content, and users, as a matter of course regardless, doesn't bode well in any sense.

Who knows at this point...

Hey ho, to sea we go, a Pirates life for meeeee!

September 26, 2017, 04:13:27 PM by kat


A report recently discovered/forced to be released publicly, "Estimating displacement rates of copyrighted content in the EU" suggests European piracy rates don't appear to negatively affect the gaming industry as expected (note: some media outlets have made specific comment on the apparent age of the data used for this report based its being (re)published in 2017. Whilst perhaps a valid concern in some respects, the criticism however, omits(?), neglects(?) ignores(?) the reports actual 2014 publication date, as highlighted in the Copyright & Publication Notice, and the 2015 Authors Notice, all within the first few pages, and the fact that a request for access/release was sent to the European Commission, also in 2014 - this is notwithstanding large-scale studies of this nature often being historical rather than real-time).
Quote
Main conclusions
In 2014, on average 51 per cent of the adults and 72 per cent of the minors in the EU have illegally downloaded or streamed any form of creative content, with higher piracy rates in Poland and Spain than in the other four countries of this study. In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect. An exception is the displacement of recent top films. The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally. People do not watch many recent top films a second time but if it happens, displacement is lower: two legal consumptions are displaced by every ten illegal second views. This suggests that the displacement rate for older films is lower than the 40 per cent for recent top films. All in all, the estimated loss for recent top films is 5 per cent of current sales volumes.

Pewdiepie, pejoratives and threats of false DMCA

September 12, 2017, 02:43:50 AM by kat


Filing a #DMCA Take-down Notice for any reason other than an infringement or misappropriation of Copyright subjects the Complainant (person issuing the Take-down Notice) to the possibility of being prosecuted for Perjury, the intentional invocation of legal process under, false or otherwise misleading pretense.

Make no mistake, Perjury is serious business because the 'Oath' that's sworn at sign-off grants authority of the governed (The People) to whatever State power is able to service the claim being made. In other words, when one party to a claim knowingly lies in the broadest sense, or intentionally misrepresents their case against another, they are siccing the full weight of the State on the other Party absent their being actual or justifiable reason or need.

As can be imagined, the State doesn't like being used like this ('punitively' or 'vexatiously') because it undermines the States standing/authority on the matter at hand (and due process more broadly), which is largely why Perjury carries such relatively heavy penalties for something that otherwise appears at face value 'harmless'; the crime isn't the 'lie' so much as the misappropriation or unjustified invocation of State power for the individuals own ends rather than the States and its exercise of Justice.

With this in mind, to be using or overtly threatening the use #DMCA as a means to solve what amount to nothing more than petty personal or political beefs, to remove content from the internet because someone said something stupid or offensive during a live-stream, is misguided and foolish a best, doubly so when the party making such claims has granted express licence for their material to be exploited[1].

So whilst it was most certainly unwise, yes even offensive, of Pewdiepie to use (a?) racial pejorative(s?) during a live-streaming. It's even more 'unwiserer' for a dissociated developer, having absolutely no connection to the game being streamed, publicly announce their intent to potentially abuse #DMCA to remove unrelated archives as a result of said event, insinuating the pejorative as the reason, whilst asking others to do the same[2] to boot. So not only is the developer toying with Perjury, they're also walking on the left-side of Twitters (and YouTubes) Terms of Service that forbids targeted harassment of users on its platform.

The whole situation is of course (of course!) not helped by the huge amount of 'fake news' and click-bait generated by outlets more interested in outrage peddling[3] than taking the opportunity to properly inform their readers about #DMCA, how it actually works, and why it should not be abused the way Firewatch developers appear to think it can.

DISCLAIMER: The above should not be construed as legal advice. It is posted as opinion/for informational purposes only. Always seek Legal advice/council prior to issuing DMCA Take-down, Counter Notices or dealings therein.

[EDIT: little bit of clarity: it wasn't the streamed games developer but someone associated with another product PDP has played previously]

Additional Resources
- Learn more about DMCA and what's required to file a Notice.
- Are 'DMCA Protected' websites & services scams?.
- You don't own that game you bought (Copyright).
- Fan Art and Copyright Infringement.
- Its a Terms of Service violation, not Copyright dispute.
- DMCA and its Failings.
- DMCA exemptions - single player games.
- Pepper and Carrott and the curious case of Copyright infringement >meow<.
- What is "FOXed"?.
- Improving Content ID for creators.


Footnotes:
[1] oddly the game at the centre of this nontroversy was not authored by the developer making the false DMCA claim (Pewdiepie was playing another game). Even more oddly, the studio to which the individual actually belongs explicitly grants licence for the exploitation of their content - "Can I stream this game? Can I make money off of those streams? Yes. We love that people stream and share their experiences in the game. You are free to monetize your videos as well. It doesn't hurt to let us know on Twitter when you're live. We might show up in your chat!". Generally speaking then, unless the granting authority (the game developer making the threats) included a "we reserve the right to..." (or otherwise room for revocation) statement within their permission of use agreement, it would be difficult for them to prove their case (unless YouTube streamers are subject to a different licence not publicly available), especially where doing so means acting retroactively to rescinded or selectively revoked such permission. DMCA and Copyright simply doesn't work this way, to have better chance of success when enforcing their rights though DMCA, Rights Holders generally have to show they are pro-active in their efforts to establish ownership - being the Rights Holders doesn't automatically equate to 'winning'. Similarly, although it is being said that DMCA Notices can be sent for any reason this is only true with respect to those reasons being specifically related to the misappropriation or infringement of Copyright. And to be clear, whilst Lets Plays in of themselves have not been ruled (as of yet) as "Fair Use", monetisation i.e., commercial exploitation (adverts, income from Patreon and other sources) would generally nullify that defensive argument (at least at present).

[2] to be clear, the game being played/streamed was not authored by the developer threatening DMCA abuse, he was allegedly referring Firewatch, which Pewdiepie had played previously. With that said, his calls for others to join him could be considered a call for the targeted harassment, or the "brigading" of another individual, a form of abuse Twitters forbids on their platform.

[3] the headlines below are not linked to intentionally so as to not propagate fake news;
- "YouTube star PewDiePie uses racial slur" - BBC
- "PewDiePie: YouTube megastar's N-word outburst sparks developer backlash" - The Guardian
- "PewDiePie must not be excused. Using the N-word is never OK" - The Guardian
- "PewDiePie, the world’s most popular YouTuber, is back making more racist comments" - Tech Crunch
- "Pewdiepie Streams Racist Slur, Prompts DMCA Threat from Gamemaker" - Rolling Stone
- "PewDiePie in trouble once again for racist outburst" - Engadget
- "FireWatch dev uses DMCA against PewDiePie after streamed racial slur" - ars Technica
- "Firewatch dev threatens Pewdiepie video takedown, following YouTube star's use of N-word" - Eurogamer
- "Firewatch creator vows DMCA retaliation against PewDiePie for racist slur used in stream" - Polygon
- "PewDiePie uses N-word during live stream, game developer takes action" - Mashable
The above headlines would be perhaps more accurate had they included "false" when mentioning "DMCA";
- "Firewatch developer threatens false DMCA for inappropriate language",
- "Pewdiepie threatened with false DMCA over racial pejorative",
Or more acutely accurate...
- "Developers misplaced outrage over racial pejorative",
- "Should Pewdiepie be excused given the pervasive Cultural use of racial pejoratives?"
And so on... The intentional (?) lack of clarity reveals more about the political biases of outlets reporting on this story than it does about Pewdiepie's alleged racial tendencies or not.

YouTube's continued commitment to conflation

August 08, 2017, 11:41:49 PM by kat


In "[a]n update on our commitment to fight terror content online", YouTube has posted another blog clarifying the companies policies towards Demonetization (demonetisation) and Controversial Content. Given the title, "fight[ing] terror[ism] online", the context of the discussion is clear, to developer policies and procedures that better "identify and remove violent extremism and terrorism-related content" that often centres around "hate speech and violent extremism", or "hate speech, radicalization, and terrorism ... [as]... used to radicalize and recruit extremists", all of which are clear violations of YouTube's Terms of Service (cf. 7.5, 7.6, 7.9) and their Community Guidelines (cf. "Hateful content", "Threats", "Violent or graphic content", "Harmful or dangerous content")[^].

At face value the policies as they stand essentially appear to align with current legislation governing threatening or hateful behaviour or conduct, or anything ostensibly in support of or promoting terrorism[1]. In other words, Users aught not to be posting content otherwise considered objectively material to a Criminal Offense, that anyone doing so, can have their content removed and/or their account suspended, without warning ("notice") on both counts (cf. ToS 7.8)[2].

Under normal circumstances this would be more than adequate; where it appears an individual is actually threatening another person, group or establishment with harm, and not just saying "mean words on the Internet", or expressing poorly worded or advised jokes or comments, or is posting material that is intended to be used to cause harm, bomb-making tutorials for example, the appropriate action can be taken, and the authorities involved where necessary, to investigate whether there is genuine and real cause for concern. Should nothing come of such investigations content and accounts could then be returned (at YouTube's discretion of course[2]).

But this isn't about being reasonable (or wanting an "reasonable discussion") from the consumers point of view (video uploaders and those watching), especially given the amount of flack YouTube has received of late from the a number of European Governments and the European Parliament in particular, who allege the corporation isn't doing enough to suppress certain types of speech, or isn't remove 'offending content' fast enough, especially material critical of government activities.

With this in mind YouTube is in fact acting on what they're being told to do rather than risk loosing access to those markets; although one or two regions might not seem too big a deal given YouTube/Googles monopolistic bravado, the concern for them would be the 'domino effect' this might cause, once one goes they all might go as soon as Governments and Regimes realise they can use local law to shutter the service, something that's useful to any Government wanting to stop an opposition rising - the policies of today that would have shuttered yesterdays protests, imagine the likelihood of the Arab Spring without the Internet.

In that context YouTube has to respond by developing and implementing dubiously thought-out, ill-conceived policies ostensibly policed not by YouTube itself but vested third parties - their way of paying lip service to impartiality; if harmful content remains it would be because the "experts" didn't properly advise them[3].

This naturally leads to political bias when the so-called "experts" are self-appointed political advocates[4] and not content analysts, their assessments are based entirely on their own predilections and hunger to be taken seriously, or at least for the issues they tout. Only then does it become possible, acceptable, to target 'conservative' viewpoints on any given platform when service providers and moored experts have 'progressive' leanings[5]. Given the ability to develop or advise on policies that remove harmful content, their doing so can only be wholly partisan towards their politiks rather than the development of more useful universal 'rule sets' that benefit and apply to everyone, equally.
Quote
"... if you want to test a wo/man's character, give [them] power".


FootNotes:
[^] Through legal Council content can be removed from YouTube where its found to be defamatory - "Defamation Complaint". Or where personal information has been exposed, through the "Privacy Complaint Process".

[1] The Courts test for 'hate' or 'threats' typically requires an impartial person, given all the facts, reasonably concluding there to be a genuine fear or concern for an individuals safety or well being. For example the Patriot Act in the USA, or the UK's Anti-Terror, Crime & Security Act.

[2] Its important to note that YouTube is under no legally binding obligation to actually do anything about content that violates their content policies, that doing so should they decide to, is discretionary - "YouTube reserves the right (but shall have no obligation) to...".

[3] Whilst YouTube/Google can be held accountable for their service (they can be sued or fined), the same cannot be said of the content "experts" advising them, who are wholly unaccountable to anyone but perhaps their members (their executive boards not their subscribers and donators). In other words, YouTube receives all the flack for poorly implemented decisions instead of the 'expert' panel advising on the policies used.

[4] YouTube's content "experts" are "select contributing member of YouTube’s Trusted Flagger program", the (YouTube Contributor" ("YouTube Hero's" and "Trusted Flagger") program, more likely due to their agreeable politics and rhetoric as much as for their expertise, bypassing the normal application and selection process).

[5] It's difficult to ascertain actual versus perceived instances of bias, i.e., whether the alleged attacks on conservatives is real or not. A number of studies/research/investigations do indicate bias in other areas (e.g. "Lackademia: Why do academics lean left?", "The Institutionalization of Ideology in Sociology", "Social media for large studies of behavior", "The Political Environment on Social Media", "Politics on Social Networking Sites", "Twitter Reaction to Events Often at Odds with Overall Public Opinion") but without the numbers bias can only be implied or suggested.

Females, despite being 50%+ of gamers, spend 2/3rds less than males

July 27, 2017, 09:29:04 PM by kat


In the current "post-truth", "fake news" environment, where the moments narrative has greater merit and matters more, that permits an unapologetic use of tangential data to straw-wo/man counter-arguments, the following has been "fact-checked" to be "TRUE" and simultaneously "FALSE" because [reasons] (without any hint of irony).

Barclays Bank has published a financial market report, "Female gamers to spend more than £1bn on video games in the next 12 months, finds Barclays research", suggesting female gamers (are set/projected to) spend £1 billion GBP on games (c.$1.4 billion USD) over the next 12 months against the sectors total spend projections of £3.4 billion GBP (c. $4.5 billion USB).

In relation to other well documented and established publications and reports that 50% of gamers are female[1], Barclays data highlights a disparity between industry facts, and the fiction advocated for in press and media, a dislocation that has female gamers spending 2/3rds less money on gaming and than their male counter-parts despite being 50%+ of the User base[3].

That's quite the anomaly. Its significant because it belies an ostensibly anti-white-male gamers narrative, that females are 50%(+) of the game playing public, are just a serious, and spend just as much time and money on games as their male counterparts. Pick an argument and stick to it, either female gamers are the same as male games, or they're not (the same argument also said in reverse). If not, there are better issues to be ruminating over.

Or put more plainly; if 'advocates', be they in press and media, represented by 'biased' blogs, lobbying or advocacy groups, constantly cherry-pick, misrepresent and cavalierly meander around facts and information because doing so better suits what they want, t'would seem only proper they be the last people on earth the computer and video games industry aught to be listening to because their "post-facts" world all too often flies in the face of observable reality and the arguments and assertions they are apparently trying to make.

*/Queue various leaps of irregular thinking to massage 'truth' from falsehood or misrepresentation. Q.E.D.



Footnotes:
[1] Other industry data points from ESA and their "Essential facts about the computer and video games industry" 2015 (44% of gamers female), 2016 (41% of gamers female) and 2017 (numbers not clearly defined), Internet Advertising Bureau UK "More women now play video games than men" & "The gaming revolution", Nielsen "Finding (and Acting on) the White Spaces in Mobile Gaming".

[2] Google search results are by no means an definitive measure of a claims 'veracity', they do go some way to providing an initial gauge as to what the Internet 'thinks' about certain subjects, topics and information. With this in mind the overwhelming narrative expressed in press, media, opinion pieces and blogs is that female gamers are 'equal' to their male counterparts. This is only 'true' selectively or electively as a consequence of narrowing focus on a particular topic of interest that is then politically weaponised at the expense of a broader 'truth'.
- c.11,500,000 - "50 of gamers are female report".
- c.360,000 - "female gamers spend as much as men".
- c.19,000,000 - "women play more games than men".
- c.9,000,000 - "men spend less on game than women".

[3] The claim, that female gamers spend 2/3rds less, or 1/3rd that of male gamers, is an intentional absurdity meant to highlight the way political advocates and acolytes, a politicised press, media and various 'rights' organisations, misrepresent issues, intentionally or not (given the amount of income they generate, and the degree to which doing so grants access to topic-specific experts, one can only conclude that much of the aforementioned's misrepresentations are intentional, if only for click-bait). Although the statement appears true at face value; 1/3rd does leave 2/3rds remaining, the actual figure is 1/6th, this is the disparity that would bring female gamers spending to parity with males given the projected totals - 3.4bn / 2 = 1.7bn per 50/50 split, females spending 1.1bn means they are only short c.600m, or c.1/6th, in which case it's more precise then to say "female gamers spend 1/6th or c.15% less on gaming than their male counterparts" which, whilst more truthful, is not as good a lead/traffic/interest generator (click-bait).
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