YouTube’s Bumper Machine offers an automated way to create six-second ads

After introducing a six-second “Bumper” ad format back in 2016, YouTube is unveiling a new tool that uses machine learning to automatically pull out a six-second version from a longer ad.

It might seem a little ridiculous to try to compress (say) a 90-second video into a six-second message. In fact, Debbie Weinstein, Google’s vice president of YouTube and video global solutions, acknowledged that there was some skepticism when Bumper ads were first announced, with advertisers wondering, “Can we actually tell our story in six seconds?”

However, Weinstein argued, “We learned over time that creatives love constraints. They’ve historically been constrained to 30 seconds, and then 15 seconds, and constrained by whatever dimensions of a particular media format.”

For some advertisers, she said, a Bumper may simply be a short teaser for a longer ad. For others, the format could provide a way to break down a 30-second ad into a sequence of six-second clips.

And with Bumper Machine — which YouTube is currently alpha testing, which will then lead into beta testing and eventually general availability — advertisers will have a tool to create a Bumper by scanning a longer ad for “key elements,” like a voiceover or a tight focus on human beings or logos or products. The result always ends with “the final call to action in the last two-to-three seconds of the video,” Weinstein said.

For example, as an early test, GrubHub took a 13-second ad and used Bumper machine to create the six-second version below.

Weinstein suggested that Bumper Machine could be used by “many different advertisers of all shapes and sizes” — some of them might be smaller advertisers who want to create Bumpers with as little time and effort as possible, while larger brands and agencies may treat them as more of a “jumping off point,” which can be refined or serve as inspiration.

Either way, Weinstein isn’t expecting advertisers to just start posting machine-created Bumpers willy-nilly. The idea is to always have “some level of human review.”

“You’ll get three to four executions, the best guesses that the machine is going to make,” she said. “A human is going to go through and decide which of the three or four is best, or decide all of them are great, or do some light editing on top of that.”

Former YouTube star sentenced to ten years in prison for child porn

Former Youtube star Austin Jones has been sentenced to ten years in a US federal prison after pleading guilty to persuading underage girls to send him explicit videos of themselves.

Jones, who made a name for himself online singing covers of songs, was arrested and charged in 2017 with two counts of producing child pornography.

He later pled guilty to one charge of receiving child pornography — admitting in a plea agreement that in 2016 and 2017 he enticed six girls to to produce and send explicit videos to “prove” they were his “biggest fan”, per Buzzfeed.

“Production and receipt of child pornography are extraordinarily serious offenses that threaten the safety of our children and communities,” it quotes assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Neff Welsh writing in a sentencing memo. “Jones’s actions took something from his victims and their families that they will never be able to get back.”

At the height of his YouTube fame Jones had around 540,000 subscribers to his channel and more than 20M video views.

In a 2015 apology vlog, after reports emerged of Jones asking young fans to send him twerking videos, he claimed it never went further than that. “There were never any nudes, never any physical contact, it never happened,” he said then.

But in his plea agreement Jones admitted to attempting to persuade more than thirty underage fans to send him explicit photos or videos.

YouTube removed Jones’ channel after he pled guilty in February — saying it had violated its community guidelines. But the Google -owned company initially refused to shutter it, telling the BBC a few days earlier that while it does have a policy of removing content when a person is convicted of a crime “in some cases” it does so only if the content is closely related to the crime committed.

Describing her experience in a vlog also posted to YouTube, one former fan she had received messages from Jones asking her for twerking videos prior to his 2015 apology video when she was 14-years-old.

“I just don’t understand how these people can let the fame get to their heads that much that they think it’s alright to do something to people like this,” she said. “It’s so messed up. But the fact that his fanbase was these vulnerable, insecure young girls makes it so much worse than it already is… He knew that that was his fanbase and he took advantage of that.”

YouTube confirms plans to make Originals available for free

YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl reaffirmed the company’s plans to take its Originals out from behind the paywall, making them free and ad-supported.

Kyncl was speaking at YouTube’s annual Brandcast event, where the Google-owned company lays out its plans for advertisers (with lots of razzle dazzle provided by musicians and YouTube stars). Since last fall, the YouTube has acknowledged that it’s moving towards an ad-supported model for its Originals, and tonight, Kyncl said that all original programming moving forward will have an ad-supported window.

He didn’t say anything more about that window, but it sounds like YouTube isn’t fully abandoning paid subscriptions yet. Still, everything on its slate should be available for free at some point. That includes the first two seasons of the “Karate Kid” follow-up “Cobra Kai” — season one will be available for free from August 29 to September 11, and then season two will become available.

“While every other media company is racing to put their content behind the paywall, we’re headed in the opposite direction by making our original content available for free,” Kyncl said.

He also announced that “Cobra Kai” will be returning for a third season next year, as will Kevin Hart’s comedic fitness series “What The Fit.” And he said YouTube is also working on an Originals project with Justin Bieber, although the company isn’t sharing any other information about it.

In addition, the team behind the popular Dude Perfect YouTube channel is working on a documentary that goes behind-the-scenes of their tour this summer. Other projects that YouTube announced today (though they weren’t mentioned on-stage) include a documentary about Paris Hilton, expanded Lollapalooza coverage and YouTube’s first interactive special, “A Heist with Markiplier.”

In addition to Kyncl, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki spoke at the event, where she declared, “Primetime is now personal, and it’s happening on our cellphones. Every one of us has a new primetime.”

She also addressed the question of “responsibility,” which presumably refers to removing hate speech and misinformation from the platform Wojcicki described this as “my number one priority,” and said YouTube is removing millions of bad videos every quarter, most of which “have not received a single view.”

“I recognize that there is still work to be done, but we are committed to getting this right,” she said.

YouTube sets a goal of having half of trending videos coming from its own site

YouTube wants to have half of the featured videos in its trending tab come from streams originating on the company’s own site going forward, according to the latest quarterly letter from chief executive Susan Wojcicki.

The letter, directed to YouTube’s users, is meant to help ease concerns the site’s biggest stars have over copyright challenges, advertising policies and video monetization — along with their shrinking presence on the site’s trending feature.

It’s been a rough quarter for YouTube. The company had to deal with yet another child predator scandal, which prompted the company to completely shut down comment sections on most videos featuring minors. 

The Alphabet-owned video company was also forced to wrestle with its role in the spread of a global anti-vaccination campaign that has helped foster a resurgence in Measles cases around the world — creating a new epidemic in the U.S. of a disease that had been largely eradicated in the country.

Beyond monetizing anti-vaccination videos, YouTube’s role in the dissemination of videos taken by the white supremacist mass-murderer who killed scores of people in attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand has created a backlash against the company in capitals around the world.

Wojcicki addressed both incidents in the letter, writing:

In February, we announced the suspension of comments on most YouTube videos that feature minors. We did this to protect children from predatory comments (with the exception of a small number of channels that have the manpower needed to actively moderate their comments and take additional steps to protect children). We know how vital comments are to creators. I hear from creators every day how meaningful comments are for engaging with fans, getting feedback, and helping guide future videos. I also know this change impacted so many creators who we know are innocent—from professional creators to young people or their parents who are posting videos. But in the end, that was a trade-off we made because we feel protecting children on our platform should be the most important guiding principle.

The following month, we took unprecedented action in the wake of the Christchurch tragedy. Our teams immediately sprung into action to remove the violative content. To counter the enormous volume of uploaded videos showing violent imagery, we chose to temporarily break some of our processes and features. That meant a number of videos that didn’t actually violate community guidelines, including a small set of news and commentary, were swept up and kept off the platform (until appealed by its owners and reinstated). But given the stakes, it was another trade-off that we felt was necessary. And with the devastating Sri Lankan attacks, our teams worked around the clock to make sure we removed violative content. In both cases, our systems triggered authoritative news and limited the spread of any hate and misinformation.

Given those examples, the commitment that Wojcicki is making to ensure that half of the videos in the company’s trending tab come from YouTube itself seems… risky.

The company needs to do something, though. The talent on which it depends to bring in advertisers and an audience is very worried about a number of recent steps YouTube has taken.

From the perspective of YouTube’s top talent, the company is abandoning them even as regulators restrict the ways in which they’re able to make the videos that have defined the site throughout its history.

In Europe, meme culture is under attack by lawmakers who have passed legislation muddying the waters around what constitutes fair use — and YouTube’s users are worried that the company may start restricting the distribution of their videos on flimsy copyright claims.

“[We] are also still very concerned about Article 13 (now renamed Article 17) — a part of the Copyright directive that recently passed in the E.U.,” Wojcicki wrote. “While we support the rights of copyright holders—YouTube has deals with almost all the music companies and TV broadcasters today—we are concerned about the vague, untested requirements of the new directive. It could create serious limitations for what YouTube creators can upload. This risks lowering the revenue to traditional media and music companies from YouTube and potentially devastating the many European creators who have built their businesses on YouTube.”

In many ways the letter is just a continuation of themes that Wojcicki laid out in her first address to the company’s core user base.

It’s a pivotal moment for YouTube as public pressures mount for the company to take more responsibility for the videos it distributes and the users that make up the bulk of its creative community start chafing under their increasing constraints.

The company appears to be responding with a commitment to be more transparent going forward, but it’s going to be increasingly difficult for the company to navigate between the pressures of advertisers for “safe” videos and producers for greater creative freedoms — all with traditional media putting the company increasingly in its crosshairs and new players like TikTok commanding greater attention.

MLB to exclusively stream 13 live games to YouTube & YouTube TV

YouTube today announced a new partnership with the MLB which will allow the site to exclusively live stream 13 MLB games to both YouTube and YouTube TV during the second half of the regular baseball season. While YouTube TV had previously partnered with MLB — it’s currently serving as the presenting partner for the World Series, for example — this is YouTube’s first-ever exclusive live game partnership with the league.

The company says the schedule of the games and dates will be announced in a few weeks’ time, but will include 13 games that will be exclusively available to viewers in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico for free on the MLB YouTube channel, and on a dedicated channel that will come to YouTube TV.

The games will also include a pre-game and post-game show, and will contain MLB and YouTube-themed content from popular YouTube creators, who have yet to be announced. The games will be produced and enhanced for the YouTube platform by the MLB Network’s production team.

Deal terms were not disclosed.

“It’s incredible to team up with Major League Baseball for this first-of-its-kind deal together to provide both diehard baseball fans and our YouTube community with live games exclusively on YouTube and YouTube TV,” said Timothy Katz, YouTube’s Head of Sports and News Partnerships, in a statement. “With Major League Baseball’s expanding international fanbase, we are confident YouTube’s global audience will bring fans around the world together in one place to watch the games and teams they love.”

In addition to YouTube TV’s presenting sponsorship of the World Series (2017-2019), the two organizations have a history of working together. MLB has been live streaming games since 2002 on MLB.tv, and started its YouTube channel back in 2005. Today, MLB content and that from its 30 Clubs are available on YouTube including all old games since 2009. The YouTube audience generated 1.25 billion YouTube channel views in 2018 — up 25 percent over the year prior — the organization said.

YouTube TV also added the MLB Network to its channel lineup, and created baseball-themed content as part of its marketing campaign promoting the live TV streaming service.

“YouTube is an enormously popular video platform with impressive global reach and has served as a great environment for baseball fans to consume the game they love,” said Chris Tully, MLB Executive Vice President, Global Media, in the announcement. “We are excited to expand our partnership with YouTube to provide fans with an exclusive, customized live game viewing experience. With the media consumption habits of our fans continuing to evolve, MLB is committed both to expanding our roster of national broadcast platforms and to presenting live games in new ways to our fans,” Tully added.

MLB’s deal with YouTube comes on the heels of last month’s news that Facebook was significantly trimming the number of MLB games it would stream to just six non-exclusive games, down from the 25 exclusive games it streamed on Facebook Watch in 2018. Twitter, meanwhile, announced a deal with MLB last month that focused on more interaction between fans and the league on its social network.

For example, fans can vote for which players’ at-bats they want to watch live on Twitter every day, and the @MLB account will broadcast live shows around key events — like the London Series, Home Run Derby, All-Star Game from Cleveland, trade deadline, and the Postseason — as well as near real-time game video highlights.

The games’ arrival to a forthcoming channel on YouTube TV could entice more of the streaming service subscribers to upgrade to the full MLB Network add-on, which was made available last year alongside the news of the World Series sponsorship. YouTube TV doesn’t disclose subscriber numbers, but a March report from Bloomberg claims it has grown quickly and has now topped 1 million.

The startup behind that deep-fake David Beckham video just raised $3M

The recent global campaign showing Malaria survivors speaking through David Beckham to help raise awareness around the Malaria Must Die initiative spooked a lot of people:

The campaign has already exceeded 400 million impressions globally.

But a behind-the-scenes video explains how the video was made:

The campaign was a joint collaboration between RG/A, Ridley Scott Associates and the clever video startup Synthesia, for Malaria No More.

And it turns out there’s a huge commercial imperative over this cool technology.

Video production today is highly unscaleable. It’s a physical process with many cameras, many studios and many actors. Once a marketing, product or entertainment video has been shot it’s very difficult to quickly and affordably edit the creative or translate into different languages.

As co-founder Victor Riparbelli Rasmussen tells me: “We believe generating semi or fully artificial video is more efficient. This digital creation process is already the industry standard with images through applications like PhotoShop. We’re enabling the same for video.”

Synthesia says it can reduce the need to go on set to produce video content. Rather than shooting a new video, it can edit existing assets to create derivative international and personalized videos.

Rasmussen says: “Our solution allows companies to 10x their video output for a tenth of the costs of conventional production. A simple interview-style video can easily involve many people and extensive production costs across the organization. With our solution, a marketing manager at an Advertising Agency, a Fortune 1000 company or small business can create a new video from behind her screen and have it delivered back within 48 hrs.”

The UK based startup has now raised $3.1 million, with the financing led by LDV Capital, early investor Mark Cuban, and new investors MMC Ventures, Seedcamp, Martin Varsavsky’s VAS Ventures, TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus, Tiny VC, and advertising executive Nigel Morris.

“Video production is exponentially increasing but it is extremely challenging to internationalize and easily personalize advertising, marketing, and e-learning videos across cultures,” says Evan Nisselson, General Partner at LDV Capital. “Synthesia is leveraging computer vision and artificial intelligence to revolutionize video production for brands and creators.”

Synthesia was founded by a team of researchers and entrepreneurs from UCL, Stanford, TUM and Foundry. Notably, Prof Matthias Niessner, one of the co-founders of the company, is behind some of the most well-recognized research projects in the field Deep Video Portraits and Face2Face.

The London based startup came out of stealth in November 2018, airing their first public demo with the BBC, showcasing Synthesia technology by enabling newsreader Matthew Amroliwala speak three different languages.

Their customers already include global brands such as Accenture, McCann Worldgroup, Dallas Mavericks and Axiata Group.

But what about deep fakes and the potential for disinformation?

Synthesia says it has strong ethical guidelines and aims to ensure that all the content created is consensual and that actors are in control of their likeness.

So this is not software that you can just download from the web and apply to Bernie Saunder’s face.

Rasmussen says the company is actively working with governments and media organizations to create public awareness and develop technological security mechanisms to ensure that society gets to harness the benefits and reduce potential negative effects from synthetic media technologies.

Well, let’s hope so…

Verizon and Google ink deal to offer YouTube TV to Verizon wireless and Fios subscribers

Just days after Google and Amazon buried the hatchet over their longstanding streaming feud, Google has made another interesting inroad in its bid to bring yet more ubiquity to its YouTube-based premium video efforts. Today, Verizon (which owns TechCrunch) and the search giant announced a new partnership where Verizon customers will be able to subscribe to YouTube TV through their accounts to watch “on whatever platform they choose,” in the words of Erin McPheron, Verizon’s head of content strategy and acquisition.

That will mean, in Verizon terms, getting a YouTube TV stream if you are a 5G wireless home customer as part of an internet bundle, or as part of your Fios subscription if you are a customer of Verizon’s fiber-optic TV, telephone and internet service. It sounds like there will be other options to come. “Verizon will also offer unique, high-value YouTube TV promotions to customers across platforms,” the company added.

YouTube TV is an all-in-one bundle that essentially replaces the kinds of packages offered by cable TV providers that includes some 70 networks such as ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC, cable channels like HGTV, Food Network, TNT, TBS, CNN, ESPN, FX and on-demand video, which also includes DVR options for each of the six accounts that comes with a subscription, along with recommendation algorithms (similar to Netflix’s) for each viewer. It looks like the YouTube TV offer will sit alongside other bundles that Verizon already offers to users, for example see these action/entertainment, kids and sports/news bundles of channels on Fios. Fios also offers new customers one free year of Netflix.

The deal underscores Verizon’s ongoing efforts to play nice with third-party content providers to continue enhancing the array of services that consumers have to choose from at Verizon. More options helps sweeten the deal and keep people from moving to other services, or away from any bundles at all and opting to create their own a la carte selections, cord-cutter style.

This is especially important as it continues to build out its next-generation 5G wireless network and looks for more subscribers and usage of it. In its earnings report earlier today, Verizon reported that it was investing some $4.3 billion in capex in the first quarter of the year to build out that 5G network, which is in part meant to help optimise video traffic over wireless networks.

“Our network and technology leadership uniquely positions us to lead the content revolution, which centers around choice for our customers,” said McPherson in a statement. “As we pave the path forward on 5G, we’ll continue to bring our customers options and access to premium content by teaming up with the best providers in the industry and leveraging our network as-a service strategy. We were first in the world to bring commercial 5G to our customers and now another first on the content front as we offer our customers access to YouTube TV on whatever platform they choose.”

For Google, it gives the company — in hot competition with a number of other over-the-top streaming providers like Amazon and Netflix and Apple — one more route to reaching consumers wherever they happen to be already, and whether they are watching on a mobile phone or a TV in their living rooms. It’s not clear in the release, but it would be interesting to know if Verizon provides preferred bandwidth to a service as part of the partnership that would improve the quality of the stream.

As a point of comparison, last week Google said that YouTube users on Fire TV will be able to sign in, have full access to their library and play videos in 4K HDR at 60 fps on supported devices.

It’s not clear what kind of pricing Verizon will offer for YouTube TV, which costs $49.99 per month in the US for new customers.

“YouTube TV has become known for its best-in-class user experience that enhances the way users watch live TV today,” said Heather Rivera, global head of product partnerships at YouTube, in a statement. “With this partnership, we’re making it simple and seamless for Verizon’s customers to sign up to enjoy YouTube TV on-the-go on their mobile phones or tablets or at home on their big screen devices.”

We’ll update this post as we learn more.

How-to video maker Jumprope launches to leapfrog YouTube

Sick of pausing and rewinding YouTube tutorials to replay that tricky part? Jumprope is a new instructional social network offering a powerful how-to video slideshow creation tool. Jumprope helps people make step-by-step guides to cooking, beauty, crafts, parenting and more using voice-overed looping GIFs for each phase. And creators can export their whole lesson for sharing on Instagram, YouTube, or wherever.

Jumprope officially launches its iOS app today with plenty of how-tos for making chocolate chip bars, Easter eggs, flower boxes, or fierce eyebrows. “By switching from free-form linear video to something much more structured, we can make it much easier for people to share their knowledge and hacks” says Jumprope co-founder and CEO Jake Poses.

The rise of Snapchat Stories and Pinterest have made people comfortable jumping on camera and showing off their niche interests. By building a new medium, Jumprope could become the home for rapid-fire learning. And since viewers will have tons of purchase intent for the makeup, art supplies, or equipment they’ll need to follow along, Jumprope could make serious cash off of ads or affiliate commerce.

The opportunity to bring instruction manuals into the mobile video era has attracted a $4.5 million seed round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and joined by strategic angels like Adobe Chief Product Officer Scott Belsky and Thumbtack co-founders Marco Zappacosta and Jonathan Swanson. People are already devouring casual education content on HGTV and the Food Network, but Jumprope democratizes its creation.

Jumprope co-founders (from left): CTO Travis Johnson and CEO Jake Poses

The idea came from a deeply personal place for Poses. “My brother has pretty severe learning differences, and so growing up with him gave me this appreciation for figuring out how to break things down and explain them to people” Poses reveals. “I think that attached me to this problem of ‘how do you organize information so its simple and easy to understand?’. Lots and lots of people have this information trapped in their heads because there isn’t an a way to easily share that.”

Poses was formerly the VP of product at Thumbtack where he helped grow the company from 8 to 500 people and a $1.25 billion valuation. He teamed up with AppNexus’ VP of engineering Travis Johnson, who’d been leading a 50-person team of coders. “The product takes people who have knowledge and passion but not the skill to make video [and gives them] guard rails that make it easy to communicate” Poses explains.

Disrupting incumbents like YouTube’s grip on viewers might take years, but Jumprope sees its guide creation and export tool as a way to infiltrate and steal their users. That strategy mirrors how TikTok’s watermarked exports colonized the web

How To Make A Jumprope.

Jumprope lays out everything you’ll need to upload, including a cover image, introduction video, supplies list, and all your steps. For each, you’ll record a video that you can then enhance with voice over, increased speed, music, and filters.

Creators are free to suggest their own products or enter affiliate links to monetize their videos. Once it has enough viewers, Jumprope plans to introduce advertising, but it could also add tipping, subscriptions, paid how-tos, or brand sponsorship options down the line. Creators can export their lessons with five different border themes and seven different aspect ratios for posting to Instagram’s feed, IGTV, Snapchat Stories, YouTube, or embedding on their blog.

“Like with Stories, you basically tap through at your own pace” Poses says of the viewing experience. Jumprope offers some rudimentary discovery through categories, themed collections, or what’s new and popular. The startup has done extensive legwork to sign up featured creators in all its top categories. That means Jumprope’s catalog is already extensive, with food guides ranging from cinnabuns to pot roasts to how to perfectly chop an onion. 

“You’re not constantly dealing with the frustration of cooking something and trying to start and stop the video with greasy hands. And if you don’t want all the details, you can tap through it much faster” than trying to skim a YouTube video or blog post, Poses tells me. Next the company wants to build a commenting feature where you can leave notes, substitution suggestions, and more on each step of a guide.

Poses claims there’s no one building a direct competitor to its mobile video how-to editor. But he admits it will be an uphill climb to displace viewership on Instagram and YouTube. One challenge facing Jumprope is that most people aren’t hunting down how-to videos every day. The app will have to work to remind users it exists and that they shouldn’t just go with the lazy default of letting Google recommend the videos it hosts.

The internet has gathered communities around every conceivable interest. But greater access to creation and consumption necessitates better tools for production and curation. As we move from a material to an experiential culture, people crave skills that will help them forge memories and contribute to the world around them. Jumprope makes it a lot less work to leap into the life of a guru.

YouTube’s algorithm added 9/11 facts to a livestream of the Notre-Dame Cathedral fire

Some viewers following live coverage of the Notre-Dame Cathedral broadcast on YouTube were met with a strangely out of place info box offering facts about the September 11 attacks.

Buzzfeed first reported the appearance of the misplaced fact check box on at least three livestreams from major news outlets. Twitter users also took note of the information mismatch.

Ironically, the feature is a tool designed to fact check topics that generate misinformation on the platform. It adds a small info box below videos that provides third-party factual information from YouTube partners — in this case Encyclopedia Britannica.

YouTube began rolling out the fact checking “information panels” this year in India and they now appears to be available in other countries.

“Users may see information from third parties, including Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia, alongside videos on a small number of well-established historical and scientific topics that have often been subject to misinformation online, like the moon landing,” the company wrote in its announcement at the time.

The information boxes are clearly algorithmically generated and today’s unfortunate slip-up makes it clear that the tool doesn’t have much human oversight. It’s possible that imagery of a tower-like structure burning triggered the algorithm to provide the 9/11 information, but we’ve asked YouTube for more details on what specifically went wrong here.

Nancy Pelosi warns tech companies that Section 230 is ‘in jeopardy’

In a new interview with Recode, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made some notable comments on what by all accounts is the most important law underpinning the modern internet as we know it.

Section 230 is as short as it is potent, so it’s worth getting familiar with. It states “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

When asked about Section 230, Pelosi referred to the law as a “gift” to tech companies that have leaned heavily on the law to grow their business. That provision, providing tech platforms legal cover for content created by their users, is what allowed services like Facebook, YouTube and many others to swell into the massive companies they are today.

Pelosi continued:

“It is a gift to them and I don’t think that they are treating it with the respect that they should, and so I think that that could be a question mark and in jeopardy… I do think that for the privilege of 230, there has to be a bigger sense of responsibility on it. And it is not out of the question that that could be removed.”

Expect to hear a lot more about Section 230. In recent months, a handful of Republicans in Congress have taken aim at the law. Section 230 is what’s between the lines in Devin Nunes’ recent lawsuit accusing critics for defaming him on Twitter. It’s also the extremely consequential subtext beneath conservative criticism that Twitter, Facebook and Google do not run “neutral” platforms.

While the idea of stripping away Section 230 is by no means synonymous with broader efforts to regulate big tech, it is the nuclear option. And when tech’s most massive companies behave badly, it’s a reminder to some of them that their very existences hinge on 26 words that Congress giveth and Congress can taketh away.

Whatever the political motivations, imperiling Section 230 is a fearsome cudgel against even tech’s most seemingly untouchable companies. While it’s not clear what some potentially misguided lawmakers would stand to gain by dismantling the law, Pelosi’s comments are a reminder that tech’s biggest companies and users alike have everything to lose.