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YouTube should keep its eyes and ears open

Posted October. 11, 2019 07:40,   

Updated October. 11, 2019 07:40


Next day after Dong-A’s article titled “No More Kid YouTube Stars Raking It In?” was covered last Wednesday, a phone call was made by the office of a lawmaker who belongs to the National Assembly's education committee. According to the office, the committee has kept a close eye on kid YouTubers’ channels. It said that YouTube’s headquarters and its Korean branch have not answered to requests for related data, adding that they’ve never responded to such inquiries on data provision.

It was confirmed by multiple sources in the IT industry on Thursday that executives from YouTube headquarters visited Korea last month to make a tour of kid content businesses. It was around the time when confusion was created among Korean kid YouTubers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers as it was reported that the global online content platform decided not to provide advertisement service to kid YouTube channels around the world. Senior YouTube executives met up with Korean top kid YouTubers one on one, explaining that quality content businesses do not have to be concerned about the policy and such kid-friendly channels will rather win more toy ads.

It has turned out that YouTube made a nimble response to a possible exodus of its cash cow YouTubers while not responding to the Korean government’s and the National Assembly’s requests for related data. The global video-sharing website is fully aware that content provider management matters to its business as it has grown its scale by attracting independent broadcasters called broadcasting jockeys (BJs) from its competitor AfreecaTV since it made inroads into the Korean market. Added to this, it is seeing the rise of new competitors such as Disney+ and Apple TV+.

The recent YouTube regulations on under-age content providers are based right on its headquarters’ policies rather than considering controversy across Korea on child abuse issues regarding Boram Tube. Since 2016, the United States has seen constant controversy named “Elsagate,” a coined word regarding YouTubers inappropriately describing “Elsa” in Disney's “Frozen.”

By contrast, YouTube has not announced any effective countermeasure against illegal online content concerning illicit weaponry pointed out at Korea’s National Assembly inspection this year. Some experts analyze that YouTube applies different algorithms on a country basis. Professor Park Han-woo of Department of Media and Communication at Yeungnam University said that differences in each country’s social and political situations decide to put either individual YouTubers’ videos or safer and verified media content on top of the page.

Growing is accompanied by pain at times. After proclaiming itself an open platform to dominate the global social media market, Facebook later struggled to deal with the spread of violent content produced in many countries. “There are two types of kid-targeted YouTube content, one of which kids secretly watch without parental guidance and the other their mothers show to them,” a kid content business leader said. “A difference will be made in the YouTube arena following the ongoing controversy.” YouTube should not ignore current issues and controversies any more at least if it wants to retain content providers and advertisement hosts, who have served as the foundation for its business.

Do-Young Kwak now@donga.com