Apps

YouTube has quietly launched a Podcasts hub

Available in the States

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Once upon a time, podcasts were as niche as they come. However, the format skyrocketed as of late, especially during the lockdowns. Today, the major streaming platforms, like Spotify and Apple, have their own thriving podcast hubs filled with tailored content and more generalized talk shows. Now, another contender wants to join the fun — YouTube.

Since its early days as a pure video site, YouTube has expanded into other niches including television and livestreaming. Podcasts are a natural extension, of course. Though podcasts are already happy on their own audio-only platforms, some podcasters release a video version of their shows on YouTube, catering to a different audience. The format has always existed on YouTube.

As spotted by 9to5Google, YouTube has quietly launched a Podcasts section through a simple Explore page. Currently, the page is available only to users in the United States. However, if you can see the page, it reveals a simple way to navigate interests and catalogs of ongoing shows.

The feature is still likely in development, confirmed through the more silent launch. If YouTube goes through with the feature, it might have a more intuitive way to go through shows on the platform. Unfortunately, doing so might also spell the end for Google’s own Podcasts app.

SEE ALSO: This kid-friendly podcast is a cool way to teach Philippine history

Apps

Instagram will start to put ads on a user’s profile

And on the Explore page

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Ads are everywhere. Several platforms are testing where and how much they can put without raising a lot of fuss from their users. On a few occasions, a platform can cross the line, prompting a wave of reprisals. Instagram, for example, backtracked on a controversial decision to pump out more recommended posts and ads after massive backlash. Despite the recency of the controversy, Instagram is back again with another ad-fueled decision: ads on user profiles.

This week, Meta announced that two more types of ads are coming to Instagram. The first type is a natural extension of what the platform already has. Instead of hiding video ads deep within the Explore section, these short videos will start popping up right on the section’s landing page. Since the section already has ads, it might not be as intrusive, especially when compared to the second type.

Besides a new spot in the Explore feed, Instagram is also adding ads to a user’s profile. Likely to a lot of users’ dismay, it is what it says on the tin. Offering some consolation, the platform won’t spoil a profile’s grid with an ad. Instead, when a user clicks on a post on the profile, the vertical feed, which usually shows a timeline of the profile’s content, will contain spots for ads.

Instagram has not officially confirmed which users will get the feature. However, the company is currently testing it for select creators. It also assures users that it will come only on public profiles, not private individuals.

SEE ALSO: You can snooze recommended posts on Instagram

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YouTube might ask users to pay to watch in 4K

In testing phase

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Despite offering a mostly free service, YouTube is finding new ways to monetize parts of its platform. Now, ads are a lot more prevalent while watching videos. A less popular way is gating some features behind the platform’s YouTube Premium banner. YouTube is trying it once again, though. The platform is currently testing whether to keep 4K viewing behind a paywall.

With the capabilities of displays today, YouTube and its creators can offer content in stunning 4K resolution. Though not everyone can enjoy the feature, 4K viewing was a welcome one.

However, as spotted by some users on social media (via TechCrunch), the video-sharing site is reportedly making the viewing option exclusive for Premium users. The company has not officially announced any change yet. However, YouTube’s other accounts on Twitter replied to some concerned users on the site, citing an “experiment” to test what works for Premium and non-Premium users.

The company is still gathering responses to the experiment. However, if the initial social media response is any indication, a good chunk of YouTube’s users isn’t pleased with having to pay more to enjoy high-quality content.

Currently, YouTube Premium comes at US$ 11.99 per month for interested customers. The paid subscription offers ad-free viewing and offline viewing. If the company sees some progress with the experiment, they might ad 4K viewing to Premium’s mix.

SEE ALSO: YouTube has quietly launched a Podcasts hub

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TikTok, Tencent linked to sexually violent ads on Facebook

Ads continue to run on platform

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Facebook has an ad problem. After spending years on the platform, you might have noticed a plethora of misplaced ads occasionally peppered on your feed. Though most users cringe at how the algorithm can uncannily show appropriate ads right after talking about a certain topic, a series of more off-putting, offensive, and disturbing ads is making the rounds on the social media platform. Now, following a deep dive, a report has found that ByteDance and Tencent are affiliated with the phenomenon.

What are these Facebook ads? In a report from Forbes’s Emily Baker-White, several web novel companies are advertising erotic content on the platform. However, more than just erotica, these ads promote sexual, violence, rape, and self-harm. Some are even using images of popular personalities without their permission.

A particularly egregious example involves a photo of a crying woman in the shower with the caption: “his personal cum bucket.” A few others are more up front about harming women to get sex.

Others depict scenes from Twilight and Star Wars, despite not being affiliated at all with the titles. Several companies and personalities contacted by Forbes confirmed that they did not give these novel apps any permission to use their likeness.

As for the deep dive, a good number of these companies were previously backed by either ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, or Tencent, one of the biggest Chinese companies in the world. While ByteDance has claimed that the apps don’t reflect their values, these ads continue to proliferate around the platform. Tencent has likewise denied any involvement with the campaigns.

It’s also worth nothing that the apps aren’t limited to just China. One app, called Pinky Novel, operates from the Philippines and is spreading similarly troubling ads everywhere, including one that says, “Raped by Mr. CEO.”

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