A growing number of leading American companies have chosen boycott YouTube by cutting advertising ties, after evidence shows that the video streaming site is being used as a medium to facilitate the activities of a paedophilia ring.
Some of the companies who are pausing their advertising partnership with YouTube include the likes of Walt Disney Co., Epic Games Inc., and even August Oetker KG. A spokeswoman for Nestle SA also disclosed yesterday that it will be cutting ties with YouTube which is owned by Google.
What exactly happened?
According to Bloomberg, evidence emerged earlier this week that a group of “soft-core” paedophiles were using the platform to operate; targeting young girls.
A video blogger named Matt Watson had, on Sunday, shared a video explaining how tech experts used YouTube comments to identify some subtly controversial videos that depicted innocent young girls engaging in (otherwise) innocent activities that could be perceived as sexually suggestive; by paedophiles of course.
These activities ranged from girls innocently posing in front of mirrors, as well as girls participating in gymnastics.
According to Watson, YouTube’s algorithms typically recommends similar videos to anyone who clicks on them. What is problematic about this situation, therefore, is the fact that paedophiles are known to swarm the comment sections of such videos, leaving sexually suggestive comments about some parts of the video that could be compromising when paused.
The paedophiles also commented with countless sexually suggestive emojis and even went as far as asking if the girls were wearing underwears.
How does this affect the boycotting companies?
The above-mentioned companies are deciding to pull their ads from YouTube because the controversial videos involving young girls, ran right next to ads placed by them. August Oetker KG, for instance, stated that the decision was reached to postpone their YouTube spending after the company’s ads were shown to play before the controversial videos.
YouTube has issued apologies
Following the boycott, YouTube quickly apologised to everyone affected and promised to refund all the ad money paid by the companies in the past sixty days.
“Any content –including comments — that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments.” – YouTube Spokeswoman
Meanwhile, this is not the first time companies have threatened to boycott YouTube. Just two years ago, more than a hundred companies temporarily cut ties with the company due to worries that the companies’ ads were showing next to controversial contents depicting terror.
Google bought the video-sharing/streaming site in 2006, a year after it was founded by three former Paypal employees.
UPDATE: President Trump has been sued by MIT, Harvard over foreign students ban
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have sued President Donald Trump over a new policy that restricts foreign students, whose courseworks would be taught online, from entering/remaining in the USA.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the suit was filed today in the US District Court in Boston, Massachusetts. The suit alleges that the modifications that were made to the Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP) by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), came without warning.
The impromptu nature of the modifications, therefore, has left Harvard and MIT with no choice but to think it was “arbitrary and capricious”.
Recall that ICE had on Monday announced the eagerly awaited modifications ahead of foreign students’ return to US campuses for the autumn semester.
One aspect of the modified guidelines, which has thus far proven to be quite controversial, requires foreign students to remain in their home countries if their courses are going be taught online. Foreign students who are already in the US were also directed to leave the country if their courses are online-based.
Harvard University is one of the ivy league American schools that recently announced plans to teach their courseworks entirely online, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Harvard’s plan is such that students living on campus and off campus would attend classes online. However, the reviewed SEVP guideline by ICE has disrupted that plan.
CNN International quoted Harvard University President, Larry Bacow, to have said:
“The order came down without notice—its cruelty surpassed only by its recklessness. It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others.
“This comes at a time when the United States has been setting daily records for the number of new infections, with more than 300,000 new cases reported since July 1.”
Similarly, MIT’s president L. Rafael Reif, issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the development. According to him, ICE’s modified SEVP guidelines “disrupts our international students’ lives and jeopardizes their academic and research pursuits.”
He went further to write that MIT’s “international students now have many questions – about their visas, their health, their families and their ability to continue working toward an MIT degree. Unspoken, but unmistakable, is one more question: Am I welcome? At MIT, the answer, unequivocally, is yes.”
Note that this story matters because of its international ramifications. Harvard University alone has about 5,000 foreign students, some of whom are Nigerians. The revised guidelines by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is bound to disrupt these students autumn semester unless the US Government rescinds the directive.
Africa’s GDP could fall by 3.4% in 2020 if COVID-19 continues – AfDB
The bank warns projected GDP losses for 2021 ranges from $27.6 billion to $47 billion.
The African Development Bank (AFDB) published its African Economic Outlook 20202 Supplement on Tuesday and warned that the continent’s GDP would fall by at least 1.7%, and if the coronavirus pandemic continues into the second half of 2020, it could contract up to 3.4%.
“Real GDP in Africa is projected to contract by 1.7% in 2020, dropping by 5.6 percentage points from the January 2020 pre-COVID-19 projection of the virus, if the virus has a substantial impact but of short duration. If it continues beyond the first half of 2020, there would be a deeper GDP contraction in 20202 of 3.4% down by 7.3 percentage points from growth projected before the outbreak of COVID-19,” the bank said.
Access Economic Research Data and the Associated Insights from Nairametrics
AFDB warns that cumulative GDP losses could range between $173.1 billion and $236.7 billion in 2020-2021.
“Africa could suffer GDP losses in 20202 between $145.5 billion (baseline) and $189.7 billion (worst case) from the pre-COVID-19 estimated GDP of $2.59 trillion for 2020”.
The bank warned some losses will be carried over into 2021, as the projected recovery would be partial, and warns projected GDP losses for 2021 ranges from $27.6 billion to $47 billion (worst case).
The bank said countries with poor healthcare systems, oil-exporting nations, tourism-dependent nations and other resource-dependent nations will be the hardest hit.
The bank calls for countries to reopen economies and advised a “phased and incremental approach that carefully evaluates the trade-off between restarting economic activity to quickly and safeguarding the health of the population”.
The Economic Outlook Supplement is a revised projection from an earlier January outlook that projected 3.9% growth from Africa’s largest multilateral bank.
America announces modified guidelines for foreign students returning to its schools
As a student already enrolled in a US university or about to be enrolled, you should read this carefully.
The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), on Monday announced a much-needed update regarding the guidelines for foreign students hoping to return to campuses for the autumn semester.
A statement published on ICE’s website clearly spelled out the guidelines. Unfortunately, for some of the foreign students, these guidelines might as well come across as confusing instead of straightforward/explanatory.
Before we proceed to ICE’s modified guidelines, it is important to first note that some American universities have announced various modalities for class attendance amid the ravaging pandemic. For instance, while some schools said their classes can only be attended online, for now, others said they are committed to regular classroom settings, even as some others have plans to combine both face-to-face lecturing and online classes.
As a foreign student planning to return to school in the USA this autumn, the modality adopted by your school will simply determine how ICE’s new guidelines will affect you. Let us now examine the guidelines.
Modifications to ICE’s Student and Exchange Visitor Programme (SEVP)
Guidelines on online classes: ICE said that foreign students enrolled in American universities offering only online classes, will not be granted student’s visas to return to the country. Now, this is tricky because even though such students are permitted by the U.S Customs and Border Protection to enter the country, they will not just be granted their student visas by American consulates anywhere in the world. The implication of this, therefore, is that no foreign student is allowed to be in the USA while undertaking online classes offered by an American university.
Foreign students who wish to return/remain in the USA during the autumn semester must ensure that their classes will not be taught online. If it so happens that a foreign student is enrolled in a school offering only online classes, such a student has the option of transferring to another school that is conducting face-to-face lecturing. Otherwise, the student should stay back in their home country and take the full course online.
Foreign students who are already in the country but enrolled in schools offering only online courses must also ensure that either switch to a different school with the face-to-face lecture option, or leave the country willing. Otherwise, such foreign students risk being deported.
“Nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States. The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States. Active students currently in the United States enrolled in such programs must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction to remain in lawful status. If not, they may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings,” part of the guideline said.
Guidelines on regular classes: The revised guideline specified that foreign students enrolled in American schools where classes are still taught face-to-face are required to be available on campus to attend classes during the autumn semester. Upon return to campus, such students are allowed to decide whether to combine both physical class attendance and online classes.
Other guidelines: Foreign students attending US schools that are combining online classes with physical lectures will not be allowed to only attend online lectures while on campus. Instead, they must attend both the online classes and face-to-face classes.
Some issues to consider
-It is obvious that ICE is trying to stop some foreign students from trooping to the USA when they can remotely receive lectures online. After all, this will help prevent further trans-border spread of COVID-19. However, online classes come special challenges, especially for students in foreign countries. The time difference is one of such challenges; what happens when an online class is holding by 12 noon at Harvard when a student somewhere in South East Asia supposed to be sleeping?
-For now, American consulates around the world have suspended visa issuance. This poses a serious challenge to foreign students who were just freshly admitted into American universities and will student visas before they can be on campus for the autumn semester. Now, the saddest part is that any student who does not resume along with the other students, will not be allowed to resume later.
-Meanwhile, Nigerian students hoping to return to the US for their studies would have to grapple with immigration uncertainties mentioned above, along with foreign exchange troubles. Recall that even though the Central Bank of Nigeria announced that it has resumed the sale of dollars to Nigerian students studying abroad, the exchange rate for naira against the dollar remains high. And this is a major challenge to any student who will need to pay the high tuition fees of American universities.