It’s time for the Creator Economy to embrace ethics.
Start with Mr. Beast and Linus Tech Tips.
Each sit at the top of their genres. Yet each suffered last week with – as a media vet – I would call rookie mistakes due to ethical lapses.
The Mr. Beast issue was likely oversight – a producer used a copyrighted animation without getting clearance. That forced a two-day takedown while they recut their latest hypergrowth video – and presumably made nice with the IP owner. Fast and loose works for a while, but when you’re big enough to sue for $100 million, it’s time for copyright guardrails.
Bit more of a disaster at Linus Tech Tips. Inaccurate test plans, incompatible test equipment and ethical lapses are just some of the serious allegations cast at the popular tech creator.
The most egregious? Allegations of conflict of interest.
Linus gave favorable reviews to products where he had a financial interest. That’s just wrong.
It’s time to grow up. Top creator-led media companies need to adopt an ethics and conflict of interest policy now.
As top editorial exec at PC Magazine, PC week and TechTV – and as CEO at MCN Revision3 I wrote and implemented robust editorial ethics policies. Inspired by journalistic stalwarts, they laid out what was OK – and what was not.
It’s about maintaining trust, but also staying out of the limelight – and the courtroom.
My guidance to the team 20 years ago: “If it shows up on the front page of the New York Times, would you be proud of it?”
Swap NYT for Kaya, Taylor, Phil, Amanda or other top YouTubers/journalists and ask your team the same question today.
It’s not just top creators – rampant ethical lapses abound. MovieTok “critics” eschew journalistic principles and freeload on movie junkets – while ripping apart traditional critics. Shein’s ill-conceived influencer factory tour last spring was also embarrassing for the whole industry.
Want to see the editorial ethics doc I implemented for YouTube creators 10 years ago? Check it out here. https://jlouderb.gumroad.com/l/ethics.
Want help developing and implementing one for your org? Drop me a DM.
Do you think it’s time for ethical standards in the creator economy? Let me know what you think – and share what you’ve done – in the comments. Liked this post? Want to see more? Subscribe to my LinkedIn newsletter “Inside the Creator Economy” or get it here via RSS.
This Week: It’s the third week of August and here’s what you need to know.
- Creators Cutting Corners: Two big creators under fire for cutting corners and breaking trust. Linus Tech Tips, one of the top tech review sites on YouTube, cut corners on recent product benchmarks tests, and then posted a cavalier reaction when outed. One of Mr. Beast’s producers snagged a short animation and reused it without permission, which led to a copyright strike and YouTube takedown for two days. Yes, compromises can sneak in when the hungry, hungry algorithm comes calling. But creator companies are now big media companies and must hold themselves accountable. It’s not just the right thing to do, but also because they are prime targets. Alas, ethical lapses are endemic in our industry. See MovieTok creators freeloading on movie junkets and then demeaning traditional critics and Shein’s ill-conceived influencer factory tour last spring. Trust is hard to get, and so easy to lose. In our maturing industry, we will either grow up or die. Time to broadly adopt ethics and conflict of interest policies – check out the policy I wrote in 2012 for Revision3 and early creator org IAWTV here. Ping me if you want help developing or implementing.
- Full Time Creators Making More Per Post: That’s according to a survey on creator compensation from influencer marketing firm MAVRCK. That’s good, but the bulk of them still only make $2k to $4k a month. Alas, part time creator compensation is flat. Some interesting data on subscription rates too – $1-$10 a month seems ideal. Nearly 700 creators were interviewed, but no disclosure on HOW they were selected, so likely many of MAVRCK’s clients were surveyed. Very directional, not at all projectible.
- Minecraft, Roblox and the BCG Matrix: Lots of conflicting discussions on Minecraft’s recent move to limit what creators can do with their IP. No more leading with “Minecraft” in your title, or paywalling game-play videos. Nor can Minecraft gameplay be part of a broader event – like VidCon – where you charge admission. Contrast that with Roblox, who welcomes creators with open arms on its march to 1 billion DAUs. Stark contrast for sure, but what’s really going on? I explain more in a video I posted last week, but it all comes down to your place on the classic BCG growth/share matrix. Clearly Microsoft sees Minecraft as a “Cash Cow”: Milk the franchise dry. Roblox focuses on investment and growth – It’s a “Rising Star”. The BCG matrix is a tested way to tease strategy out from your favorite companies.
- TikTok Aims at YouTube and Twitch: Business Insider talked with seven creators who are making significant money from TikTok’s new long form program ($ paywall). It’s significant because finally the company seems to be delivering real dollars to creators, although we don’t know how many are actually in the program. It’s also interesting because only videos over 1 minute are included –one second less than the Shorts max length. I’ve also noticed more horizontal live videos on TikTok – including game streaming and this live feed from Shibuya Tokyo – which looks great on desktop and presumably TV too.
SPONSOR: Opus Clip Drops Major Reframe Upgrades and Adds Jon Youshaei as Creator Ambassador.
The top AI video clipping tool, which just skyrocketed passed 1 million signups, released a powerful auto-reframing upgrade to improve active speaker tracking, and the ability to manually reframe clip results within its editor. Plus, creator expert @Jon Youshaei is partnering with Opus Clip to help creators optimize monetization by easily turning YouTube videos into Shorts gold. Try it today, and join their 50,000 member discord to get advice from Jon and other creator mentors.
- Big Red Testing comment filters in main mobile app, plus improved video encoding.
- Rene Ritchie with updates on header links and new advanced analytics features.
- New samples feature hopes to accelerate music discovery.
- Platforms should make better product not try to copy popular formats with their own shows.
- Interesting global study sees no correlation between Facebook use and mental well-being. Would love to see this applied to other social networks too.
- Unintended consequences: Lives at risk from Meta’s Canadian news ban.
- TT adding pre-owned luxury goods to its US commerce offerings as it attempts to “change the face of retail”.
- Maybe TikTok can save Lemon8 (but I doubt it).
- A new Travel Playbook for marketers – you can download it here.
- Rumbles of delayed payments and missing goods roil TikTok Shop.
- Taxi drivers in Asia find TikTok more lucrative than fares.
OTHER CREATOR ECONOMY
- Pick your partners wisely – merch company Fanjoy files for bankruptcy, leaving creators in the lurch.
- Kidfluencers get legal protection from exploitation in Illinois (this should be universal).
- Taylor Swift helps Ben Thompson (Stratechery) wake up to the reality of experiences.
- Video and podcast editing tool Descript buys Squadcast, a marriage made in heaven (if it works). I love Descript, and find most remote recording tools sub-par.
- Tumblr refreshes interface to look more like Threads and X.
- Kick launches Creator Program – and promises select streamers a salary.
- The Writers Guild releases a report decrying Amazon, Netflix and Disney as the new gatekeepers taking over media. What about TikTok, YouTube and Meta?
- Now we know how much Amazon values creatorsv – and it’s embarrassing.
- Rex Woodbury explores the future of online communities – and relaunches his Discord. Includes a shout-out to old friend @barrett lyon
- Slow Ventures explains why services are the next frontier for creator-led brand extensions. Smart insight, but Caspar Lee is already there with Influencer.com.
- Mr Beast really wants to do a game show for a TV streamer.
- Finally Twitch streamers can block trolls!
- Creator @Destiny Malibu unveils an AI version of herself.
- McKinsey unveils a private AI co-pilot for its 40,000 employees. Lots of questions (see my comment), but imagine if it were fronted by a corporate version of Destiny (or another top creator) rather than just text.
- Ghost in the machine – Snapchat’s AI chatbot goes rogue.
- OpenAI exploring how ChatGPT could help with content moderation. You can start using it today (ht Bens Bites).
- No more creator fees on OpenSea – this is not good. Bored Apes are suing OpenSea– and being sued after buyers feel used.
- Judge upholds ruling that AI created artwork is not copywritable.
- Pew finds most of America doesn’t know how AI works – nor what a deep fake is.
- Best times to post on TikTok for 2023 – from Dexerto.
Thanks for reading and see you around the internet. Send me a note with your feedback, or post in the comments! Feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested, and if someone forwarded this to you, you can sign up and subscribe on LinkedIn for free here!
If you’re interested in working together as a sponsor to reach the leaders in the creator economy, check out Inside the Creator’s sponsorship packages and/or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org