The Law and Business of Social Media
January 13, 2020 - Advertising, Influencer Marketing, Defamation, Section 230 Safe Harbor, COPPA

Social Links: YouTube bans some targeted ads; big changes afoot on Twitter; Facebook plans to remove ‘deep fakes’

In a move that might be part of a settlement that YouTube has entered into with the Federal Trade Commission, the video-sharing site said it will ban “targeted” advertisements on videos likely to be watched by children. Because targeted ads rely on information collected about the platform’s users, displaying such ads to children younger than 13 without parental permission violates the Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA). Until now, YouTube has avoided banning targeted ads on its primary site, arguing that children should only be using YouTube Kids, a site that is free of targeted ads.

Twitter announced plans to change several aspects of its platform. One of the new features that the company is researching would allow users to control who—if anyone—may respond to their tweets. Inspired by Twitter’s desire to give users control over how far their tweets spread, the feature should be available later this year. Read about other plans that the platform has in store.

In anticipation of the 2020 election, Facebook said it will remove from its platform deep fakes, heavily altered content likely to mislead Facebook’s users.

Supporters of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online platforms from liability for user-generated content, are playing defense again, this time from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wants the statute’s language sheltering web companies from liability stripped from the United States’ trade pact with Mexico and Canada. Find out why.

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed legislation that would make it a crime for convicted sex offenders to misrepresent themselves online. It also would require sex offenders to disclose to the Division of Criminal Justice Services the screen names they use for each of their social media accounts, dating apps and gaming apps.

Tesla chief executive Elon Musk’s tweet using the phrase “pedo guy” to refer to a man who had insulted Musk during a television interview did not amount to defamation, a California federal court jury found. Learn the basis of their decision.

As we reported late last year, in an effort to protect users’ mental health, the social media platform Instagram is phasing out popularity metrics such as “likes.” With such popularity metrics invisible to users, follower engagement—which brands use to determine an influencer’s value—will be demonstrated mostly in the form of comments. Because, on Instagram, comments are largely driven by captions, the quality of captions will be a major factor in determining which influencers continue to be successful on that platform despite the fact that it is primarily visual, one columnist argues.

Speaking of influencers, eight-year-old Ryan of Ryan’s World makes earning a living as an influencer look easy, having raked in $26 million in 2019 by posting videos like the one of him running around his garden to scoop up plastic eggs with toys inside them. But, the BBC reports, Ryan is something of an “outlier,” and “96.5% of YouTubers don’t make enough from advertising revenue alone to break the US poverty line.” Find out the names of the other top-ten highest earning influencers.