YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that its platform is beneficial to adolescent mental health. During an interview with Bloomberg, Wojcicki said the platform sees a lot of creators actually talk about mental health and as such, "destigmatises" the topic for younger individuals and spurs people to talk about what is happening with them. She added that YouTube works with a panel of experts to understand the various ways that its product could be used and how it can become a valuable resource for challenging issues such as body positivity and mental health.
This came after Wall Street Journal (WSJ) published an investigative series titled "The Facebook Files", which said that Instagram was "toxic" for teenage girls. The publication claimed that Facebook had known about the harmful effects of Instagram on teenage girls but did not do anything about it. Facebook had hit back at WSJ, claiming that the investigative series contained "deliberate mischaracterisations" of what the company was trying to do. Instagram also halted the creation of Instagram Kids, a new app it is creating for kids, citing safety concerns; reported Channel NewsAsia.
When asked about the potential long-term impact of YouTube on teens and children, Wojcicki explained that the company is doing what it can to be responsible with kids in "every way possible", including providing parents with the flexibility to limit screen time and what content their children have access to. She also emphasised on the importance for the platform to "give the tools back to parents for them to decide what is best for them and their family".
In the past, YouTube has been criticised for its content. In 2019, for example, the platform was said to have monetised suggestive videos of children, resulting in brands such as Walt Disney and Epic Games halting their spending on YouTube back then. Since then, the company has created a roadmap to ensure child safety measures and ended target ads on videos created for children.
Wojcicki added that while criticism towards YouTube's content comes as part of the job, the platform will not hesitate to take down any content that it feels will cause "world harm". She explained that she cares about how media is consumed by the next generation and has since invested plenty of time and effort to ensure the platform acts responsibly.
In June this year, YouTube banned ads related to gambling, elections and political content, alcohol, and prescription drug terms for its masthead slot. Masthead ads are the most prominent Google ad placement avaialble and YouTube masthead content requirements are more restrictive than the ad requirements for other platforms. This means that disapproved YouTube mastheads ad assets may continue to run on Google's other owned and operated properties.
Separately, YouTube officially opened a 6,000-seat YouTube Theatre in California in partnership with Hollywood Park, marking the first-of-its-kind for YouTube. According to the YouTube Theatre website, the three-storey-high venue will host a range of events including concerts, comedy shows, eSports tournaments, award shows, community gatherings, and among others.
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