Apple, YouTube, and Facebook Removed Alex Jones’ Content

Last week, Spotify deleted several episodes of The Alex Jones Podcast. The reason was because that content violated Spotify’s hate content policy. Stitcher removed Alex Jones’ podcasts on August 2, 2018. Apple, Facebook, and YouTube have followed with their own bans.

Buzzfeed News reported that Apple removed the entire library for five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its iTunes and Podcasts Apps. Among them were War Room and Alex Jones Show.

Buzzfeed reported a statement from Apple that said:

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcast that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

CNBC reported that YouTube, which is owned by Google, has removed the Alex Jones Channel.

CNBC reported that Google said in a statement regarding the removal of the page: “All users agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines when they sign up to use YouTube. When users violate these policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts.”

Facebook provided information about why they removed four videos on four Alex Jones Facebook pages in a newsroom post titled: “Enforcing Our Community Standards”.

It starts with: “We believe in giving people a voice, but we also want everyone using Facebook to feel safe. It’s why we have Community Standards and remove anything that violates them, including hate speech that attacks or dehumanizes others. Earlier today, we removed four Pages belonging to Alex Jones for repeatedly posting content over the past several days that breaks those Community Standards.”

Toward the end of the post, Facebook said: “As a result of reports we received, last week, we removed videos on four Facebook Pages for violating our hate speech and bullying policies. These pages were the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page, and the InfoWars Nightly News page. In addition, one of the admins of these Pages – Alex Jones – was placed in a 30-day block for his role in posting violating content to these Pages.”

Facebook also removed more content from the same pages that had been reported to them. Facebook took it down for glorifying violence, which violates Facebook’s graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describes people who are transgender, Muslims, and immigrants, which violates their hate speech policies.

On August 2, 2018, Stitcher posted a tweet that said: “Thanks for your note. We have reviewed Alex Jones’ podcasts and found he has, on multiple occasions, harassed or allowed harassment of private individuals and organizations, (1/2)”

Stitcher followed that with a second tweet: “and that harassment has led listeners of the show to engage in similar harassment and other damaging activity. Therefore, we have decided to remove his podcasts from the Stitcher platform.”

New York Times Opens its Podcast Club

The perceived “problem” of podcast discovery is a topic that comes up often. Especially if you listen to a lot of the voices that emirate from within podcasting’s Big East Coast Bubble. Some of those voices preach on about how podcasting needs new technology to make it easier for new listeners to find podcasts (specifically, their podcasts).

For now, those voices aren’t doing much more than moving a lot of hot air. Regardless, that isn’t keeping the New York Times from opening up its Podcast Club to the general public. The Times believes that this club (powered by a Facebook group) will help expose members to new podcasts:

Podcast club isn’t a new concept at The New York Times. We’ve had one here, in real life, for the past year. Every Friday, a group of employees from around the company gather in a bright, couch-filled conference room for half an hour to talk about one episode of one podcast. It’s sort of like a book club, but for on-demand audio.

Now we are expanding from 30 minutes a week to 24/7; from a conference room in Midtown Manhattan to the world — or at least the world of Facebook.

Here’s how it’ll work. On Mondays we’ll post the episode we’re discussing that week. Chime in with your thoughts once you’ve listened, and we’ll tell you the highlights of our own IRL discussion. We’ll also have other podcast-related discussions popping up throughout the week and will seek suggestions for what to listen to and discuss next. We’ll even have producers and hosts join us periodically for Q. and A. sessions.

You can join the New York Times Podcast Club on Facebook. You can also see an ongoing playlist of episodes featured by the club on RadioPublic.

Facebook Launches Live Audio Streaming

Facebook logoSocial media juggernaut Facebook has pushed into multiple new digital media territories this year. The company’s latest bid to become the one platforms that rules them all comes with the launch of Facebook Live Audio:

We know that sometimes publishers want to tell a story on Facebook with words and not video. We’ve even seen some Pages find creative ways to go live and reach audiences with audio only by using the Facebook Live API or by adding a still image to accompany their audio broadcast. Our new Live Audio option makes it easy to go live with audio only when that’s the broadcaster’s preferred format.

We also know that publishers sometimes go live from areas that lack strong network connectivity. Though we alert the broadcaster if their signal is low, Live Audio presents another option for connecting with audiences in real time from low-connectivity areas.

Many podcasters use Facebook to promote their shows, and many podcasters also use live-streaming services for audience interaction. While Facebook Live Audio wasn’t necessarily designed for podcasters, it seems Facebook if finally acknowledging the workarounds audio producers have used to get their content onto the platform. The launch of Live Audio should make it easier for everyone to get non-video dynamic media into Facebook.

Facebook Updates Metrics and Reporting

Facebook logoThe ever-increasing reach of Facebook is undeniable. The social networking site has added many new features over the years to extend its ability to connect people and deliver different forms of content. One of Facebook’s latest endeavors, Facebook Live, has already been used by many podcasters as either a broadcasting tool or a way to provide supplemental content. And while Facebook Live may prove to be useful to independent producers, it’s also being used by large brands. This interest is likely what led Facebook to review some of its metrics and reporting practices. The company recently published a blog post on its Facebook Business site addressing changes it has made to these systems.

The one item that may be most interesting to podcasters is Facebook’s new policy for measuring video completion. Video completion is Facebook’s stat for showing that a video has been watched all the way to the end:

When partners upload their videos to Facebook, the full video length is recorded, but when the video delivers to people’s devices, the length of the video can sometimes be a fraction of a second shorter or longer. This occasionally happens when the audio and video track don’t line up, owing to differences between video players and devices. While someone may watch a video to completion on their device, the audio may continue to play for a bit longer. This particular issue caused us to undercount the metric ‘video watches at 100%’ (previously named ‘video views to 100%’). Moat found this and reported it to us. We are now updating how we read the video length to address this issue. This may result in roughly a 35% increase in the count of ‘video watches at 100%.’ For example, if ‘video watches at 100%’ were 1%, they would now be 1.35%.

(Note: Moat is one of Facebook’s third-party measurement partners.) According to the above paragraph, Facebook will be tweaking its “views to 100” metric retroactively, so producers may see a noticeable increase in this category when viewing their stats.

A different Facebook feature that probably isn’t used by many podcasters yet, but might be used more in the future, is Instant Articles. There are also changes coming to how Facebook measures interaction with Instant Articles:

Instant Articles is a way for any publisher to create fast, interactive mobile content on Facebook. We also provide publishers with insights to help them understand how their content is consumed. We’ve determined that the average time spent per article had been over-reported by 7-8% on average since August of last year. This was caused by a calculation error: we were calculating the average across a histogram of time spent, instead of reflecting the total time spent reading an article divided by its total views. We have now fixed this issue.

Here we have a case that’s the opposite of what happened with the video metrics. If you’re already using Instant Articles and saw the “average time spent” metric go down, that happened as a result of the changes covered in the above paragraph.

These two examples just barely crack the surface of all of the changes Facebook is making to its metrics and reporting system. Click the link above if you’d like to learn what else Facebook is working on in this area.

Podomatic’s Year-End Deal Targets SoundCloud Users

Podomatic logoMedia hosting and podcasting services company Podomatic announced a year-end promotional deal as well as some new features in its November newsletter. And while the newsletter doesn’t specifically state that the company is trying to court SoundCloud users, it kinda looks that way.

First off, Podomatic has developed an inline Facebook player for its users. This allows clickable players to automatically spawn inside of users’ Facebook feeds. From the newsletter:

…we’ve released a brand new Facebook timeline player with a slick new design and improved sharing capabilities. While other companies are removing Facebook players entirely, we realize how important it is for our podcasters to have their content shared with the world, from anywhere in the world.

Earlier this year, SoundCloud disabled its own Facebook player, which caused a lot of consternation among users. This is probably what Podomatic’s referring to with that “other companies” line.

Second up, Podomatic has created a tool to import media directly from SoundCloud accounts:

Providing our podcasters with a centralized and secure location for their audio files is a commitment we take very seriously. We know how important it is to have your content readily available for your listeners 24/7 without the worry of your work being removed. With our new import tool, you can now transfer all of your episodes and mixes from any hosting site to Podomatic effortlessly, all with just a click of a button.

While the newsletter says Podomatic will import media from any service, its import page sarcastically asks, “Had enough of SoundCloud?”

Finally, Podomatic is having a Fall Sale, with an offer of three months free media hosting with the promo code FALL2015. The Fall Sale offer is good thru December 7, 2015.

Anyone who’s followed podcasting trends in 2015 has seen plenty of negative news when it comes to SoundCloud. So, it’s no surprise that Podomatic is trying to target SoundCloud users. If things continue on as they have for SoundCloud, this tactic might just pay off for Podomatic.

Facebook Video Faces Massive “Freebooting” Problem

Facebook logoFacebook has quickly become a major player in the online video space, thanks to the site’s ability to import and display videos natively. This has created a quick and convenient way for users to upload and share short clips and home movies. But it’s also created a new venue for social media savvy celebrities and big brands to distribute shareable content, similar to YouTube. The big difference being that native Facebook videos are easier to share on the massive social networking website. This has been a boon for some creators who’ve seen success in posting exclusive content to their Facebook pages. But it’s also created a problem for others, who’ve seen their videos posted natively to Facebook without their permission. This practice is called “freebooting” and it’s become fairly prevalent on Facebook.

The freebooting issue is felt most by YouTube creators who discover that their videos have been ripped from YouTube and then uploaded to Facebook without their permission. Freebooting is a problem that’s really as old as the World Wide Web itself. But it’s gotten a lot of attention recently due to a post on Medium by YouTuber/author Hank Green, which reports that:

According to a recent report from Ogilvy and Tubular Labs, of the 1000 most popular Facebook videos of Q1 2015, 725 were stolen re-uploads. Just these 725 “freebooted” videos were responsible for around 17 BILLION views last quarter.

That’s a lot of freebooted content! Naturally, Green is pretty upset by this, since it’s definitely cutting into the YouTube traffic he relies on for ad revenue.

Freebooting like this probably isn’t as big of a problem for most podcasters. In fact, most of us release our content under Creative Commons licenses that might even allow for this kind of redistribution. But when a third party gains from your work, whether it’s in direct financial compensation or just social currency, it’s a problem. Especially when that third party isn’t even providing proper credit or attribution for the work.

If you suspect your creations have been freebooted, reach out the party responsible for posting your content and politely ask them to remove it. If they decline, file a DMCA takedown request with the website’s administrator or hosting company.

Promote Your Podcast with the New Facebook Author Tag

Facebook logoPodcasters are always looking for easy ways to get a little more promotional juice online. Especially when it comes to things like social media accounts. Last week, Facebook announced its new Author Tag, which makes it easier than ever for users to find either your personal Facebook page or your brand page whenever your content is shared on the site.

Facebook’s new Author Tag is somewhat similar to Google’s discontinued Authorship system, which would provide some basic author information for items that would come up in Google searches. In Facebook’s case, anytime an item that’s properly using the Author Tag is shared, that post will include a link back to the author’s Facebook page along with either a “Follow” or “Like” button, depending on how the Author Tag is set up.

Implementing the Facebook Author Tag on your site isn’t terribly complicated. If you’re using WordPress, entering some information into the popular Yoast SEO plugin should do the trick. If you’re savvy with code, you can get the source thru Facebook’s portal for developers.

Facebook’s rollout of the new Author Tag has been somewhat slow. I scrolled thru my own news feed earlier today to try and find some instances of the feature in action. But I didn’t see any. I’m not sure if this is a Facebook issue or if it’s just that content producers haven’t yet implemented the tag . Regardless, it should only be a small investment of time to set up the Author Tag. And hopefully, Facebook will continue to support this new function much longer than Google did with its own Authorship system.

Some Thoughts On Adding Random Clips Into A Podcast Feed

StarTalk Radio podcast artI had different intentions when I first thought about typing this post. I wanted to compose something critical. Maybe even a bit snarky. But after doing some research, I’ve found that I may be in the minority in my way of thinking here.

Let me explain.

I subscribe to the popular StarTalk Radio podcast. Traditionally, StarTalk has released one full-length episode a week for as long as I’ve been listening. But recently, they began inserting short “Cosmic Minute” clips into the main podcast feed. I was a bit confused when I heard the first one, as there wasn’t any warning that these clips would be coming. I shrugged off the first Cosmic Minute and moved on. Until the second one landed in my podcatcher. Then, I became annoyed.

I subscribe to StarTalk Radio to get the full-length episodes. Not these minute-long clips. Yeah, I know. StarTalk Radio is technically giving me more content that I already like, so who am I to complain. But Cosmic Clips are simply snippets of interviews that have already been aired on full-length episodes, some of which I’ve already heard. I just don’t really have any desire to listen to this repurposed content. In the future, when a Cosmic Minute clip announces itself in my headphones, I’ll just hit the next button. No harm done, right?

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