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Creator Weekly: Canva Acquires Affinity, Google Ad Safety Report, YouTube Member-only Shorts

Creator Weekly March 30, 2024
Happy Easter weekend to all who celebrate! There are lots of updates this week for video creators, tips for bloggers, new AI-based features and more.

Top news and updates this week

  • Google’s 2023 Ads Safety Report details how many bad ads (and bad publisher sites) it removed from its ecosystem. Billions!
  • Web-based designed platform Canva has acquired Affinity and its professional creative software suite.
  • YouTube Partners can now post Member-only Shorts.
  • Learn why you don’t need to turn off sharing of your YouTube videos to the subscription and notification feed when you try new formats or topics on your channel.
  • StreamYard now offers automated editing of video recordings into Shorts and Reels.
  • SnapChat added new video editing options and supports longer videos.
  • Twitch now lets you limit followers to those with email or phone verified accounts.
  • Twitch also updated their community guidelines to prohibit lingering on clothed “intimate” body parts.
  • AdSense for Search has updated its policies.
  • The new Shine photo-sharing app may need a redesign.
  • X is gearing up for adult content communities. Plus it’s giving Premium subscriptions to accounts with lots of “verified” followers.
  • Google Chat is getting a redesigned “Files” tab for shared content (for everyone) and will soon have voice messages for Enterprise accounts.
  • Meta’s Messenger is rolling out end-to-end encryption by default, which means you need to take action to save your chat history.
  • There are new features in Google Maps lists to make them more informative.
  • VLOGGER is an experimental AI platform that can generate a talking head from a single photo of a person.
Read on for details and additional updates!

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Take this week’s quiz ✅

AI-generated image via Adobe Firefly

What do you know about YouTube’s new AI-content disclosure policy? Take this week’s quiz (and see the tip below).

New Tips and Tutorial

Are you familiar with YouTube’s new AI-generated content disclosure setting? Here is my quick overview (that’s the Shorts link, if you would rather have the regular video watch page, click here).
For more information, a member of YouTube’s Trust and Safety Team also discussed the new synthetic and altered (and AI-generated) content policy. Watch the video on the Creator Insider channel.

I was on Tinkering with Tech to talk about Google Account (and YouTube account) security and hijacking. Take a few minutes right now to make sure your Google Account is secure!

To Do & Try

There are two new AI toys from Google: Musical Canvas (generates commentary and music as you draw) and FoodMood (recipe generator that combines flavors from different countries).

Google’s 2023 Ads Safety Report

Google makes most of its money from advertising. Some of that advertising money is shared with content creators and publishers who monetize their websites and YouTube channels.

There are bad actors and scammers from both the advertiser side (Google Ads) and the publisher side (AdSense).

In Google’s 2023 Transparency Report, they share how their policies were enforced.

Overall 12.7 million advertiser accounts and 5.5 billion ads were removed. That included:
  • 206.5 million ads blocked or removed for violating the misrepresentation policy (including many scams)
  • 273.4 million ads blocked or removed for violating the financial services policy
  • Over 1 billion ads blocked or removed for “abusing the ad network” (including promoting malware)
  • 5,000 election-related advertisers were verified, and 7.3 million election ads were removed because the advertisers did not complete the verification process.
  • 6.9 billion ads were restricted. These cover sensitive topics like finances, health care, gambling and alcohol.
Google also took action against 2.1 billion publisher web pages. That included:
  • 1.8 billion pages for sexual content (that was by far the most).
  • 104 million pages for “dangerous or derogatory” content (this is number 2 on the list)
  • 61 million pages for weapons-related content ( this was number 3).
  • 395,000 site-level enforcement actions.
  • More than 90% of page-level enforcement actions started with machine learning.
The report also touches on the effects and use of generative AI, both by advertisers and publishers violating policy and for Google’s policy enforcement.

Note that this only includes policy enforcement, and so not include YouTube Partners (as YouTube enforces monetization policies).

Learn more about the Google ads you see

Canva has acquired Affinity

One of the things that many professional designers dislike about Adobe software is the monthly subscription model. A popular alternative is the Affinity creative suite, which has award-winning professional-grade Designer, Photo editing and Publisher page layout software, available for purchase at a reasonable price.

So the design community was taken aback by the announcement that Canva, which offers web-based design tools, had acquired Affinity. They are concerned that Canva, like Adobe, offers premium features with a monthly subscription, is entirely web (and mobile app) based, and (somewhat snobbily) is aimed at users who are not professional designers.

Canva, for its part, has made the following promises:
  • Perpetual licenses will “always be offered” and will be priced fairly and affordably.
  • They will continue to develop the stand-alone Affinity professional design suite.
  • They will make Affinity free for schools and nonprofits.
  • They want feedback from the community about Affinity’s future.
How does this help Canva’s business? The Verge speculates that this is a move to help the company compete more directly with Adobe.

Video Creator and Live Streaming Updates

If you have Memberships enabled on your YouTube channel, you can now post members-only Shorts. Watch the announcement from YouTube Creators.

New for YouTube Partners: you can now enable mobile push notifications to let you know when the monetization pre-check for your video is complete. Watch on Creator Insider.

There is a persistent myth that if you start using a new video format on your YouTube channel (adding Shorts, for example) or a different topic, you should turn off sharing the video to notifications of the subscription feed. YouTube Creator Liaison Rene Ritchie explains why that isn’t going to help. In particular, “performance in one traffic source also tends to affect that specific traffic source”, so if your subscribers see the video in their sub feed, but don’t click, that won’t affect how the video is recommended on the home page. Also Shorts don’t trigger upload notifications.

YouTube introduced Shorts monetization one year ago. YouTube is celebrating that milestone, noting that 80% of Partners that were eligible through Shorts now use other monetization features. But only 25% of channels in the YouTube Partner Program earn through Shorts monetization.

YouTube’s new Chief Product Officer, Johanna Voolich, talked about her priorities for the platform.

StreamYard now has an AI tool to automatically create Shorts and Reels from your live stream recordings.

SnapChat is adding new video creation options, including templates, longer videos (create videos up to 3 minutes, upload videos up to 5 minutes), easier access to editing tools, and “new advanced AI-powered Lenses”.

Twitch has added a Follower Verification setting, which requires followers (or those with new accounts) to verify their email or phone. This should help limit the reach of malicious accounts and bots. Learn more.

Twitch has also updated their community guidelines around sexual content to prohibit content that “focuses on intimate body parts for a prolonged period of time”. That includes clothed body parts such as the “buttocks, groin, or breasts”.

Zach Bussey reports that Twitch live streams from music artists will no longer be distributed in Amazon Music.

LinkedIn is testing a TikTok-style vertical video feed. Lindsey Gamble has the details.

If your YouTube channel has at least 100,000 subscribers, sign up for the new Spotter Creative Suite waitlist. That will get you access to their Title Exploder tool, which helps generate YouTube-optimized title suggestions. It will be interesting to see what all is offered when it launches.
Podcasting and Audio

Web Publishers and Search

If your blog or site is on check out WordPress’s lates Build and Beyond video with 5 hidden Features of

WordPress has added support for the newish AVIF image file format, but SEO Jon Henshaw suggests not implementing it because it’s not supported in Google Search. That means those images won’t appear in the Google Search results.

If you use AdSense for Search, the AfS policies and Product-Integrated Feature policies have been updated. If you use AdSense for Search (which is only available for large sites), you should see the email from AdSense with more details about this update.

I can’t believe this has to be said, but just because a “Contact Us” and “About Us” page on your website isn’t a Google Search ranking factor, doesn’t mean you should remove those pages.

If you are a business running Google Ads, Google Analytics 4 is rolling out new features for advertisers. That includes support for the Chrome Privacy Sandbox's Protected Audience API.

The rollout of the latest Google Search spam update is now complete.

Geeks on Tour has a nice live presentation on using Google Slides to make photo slideshows (with music) that can be embedded in your blog or web page.

Photos and Image Design on the Web

Former Yahoo CEO and Google executive Marissa Mayer announced Shine, a new privacy-focused group photo sharing app from her current startup, Sunshine. Despite a good idea, the app design was widely panned as clunky and old-fashioned looking. If you want to give it a try, it’s available for the iPhone.

Social Media

X will apparently allow private communities with an “adult content” label. It sounds like they will likely require 18+ age verification for community members. Of course X offered no other details. Bloomberg has the story.

X has also expanded group chats to 256 participants.

X users with at least 2,500 “verified” (Premium subscriber) followers will get the blue checkmark and X Premium for free. With 5,000 “verified” followers, the user will get Premium+ for free. Social Media Today has the story. Considering the number of spammers and scammers with the verified checkmark, this seems like it would be easy to game.

Bluesky Social CEO Jay Graber talked to The Verge about the development of the platform, its customizable moderation, and how its AT protocol differs from Mastodon and ActivityPub.

Flipboard’s head of creator community explained why creators should pay attention to what’s happening in the Fediverse: new audience, better engagement, and ownership of what you build.

Communication and Collaboration

Google Chat is getting a nice redesign of the “Files” tab in Spaces. It’s being renamed “Shared” and will not only include shared files, but also shared links and shared media (images and videos). This update should be available to everyone by the end of April.

Google Chat is finally launching voice messages. But it’s limited. At launch messages can only be recorded on mobile devices. And transcription will not be available until (hopefully) later this year. This is also only available to Google Workspace customers with Enterprise Essentials, Enterprise Essentials Plus, Enterprise Standard, or Enterprise Plus. So no Business, no Education, no personal accounts.

Meta is rolling out end-to-end encryption in Messenger by default, including both messages and calls. You will have to either save a key with secure storage in Google Drive or iCloud Drive, or set a PIN, to save your chat history.

Microsoft Teams video meetings are getting new features for hybrid meetings, including automatic camera switching (smart switching between the meeting room camera and laptop cameras), multiple camera view, meeting room speaker voice identification (with Copilot AI), plus new features for joining and viewing in Teams Rooms.

Android 14 is getting enhanced screen sharing features that allows sharing of a single app (rather than your entire screen) in Google Meet meetings and similar services.

Finally, if you are a Local Guide or just like to make lists in Google Maps, you can now order your lists and link to posts from social media to provide more context. And, as always, lists can be shared.

More AI Updates

Google researchers shared their work on VLOGGER, which generates talking human head video from a single photo of a person, plus text to speech. They propose this would be useful for making people in videos dubbed in a second language match their mouth and face to the translated speech.

Adobe Firefly now lets you add a structure reference, which guides the AI-generated image shape.

Researchers at the University of Texas Austin have a new method for “machine unlearning” that gets an AI model to “forget” specific content without having to start the training over from the beginning.

More Reading

CrashCourse has a really well done new video about the deadliest infectious disease of all time - tuberculosis. It’s long, but worth watching, as it follows how it shaped history to how science and medicine treats it today. Yes, it’s still a serious problem.

Visualize a blogger. What do you see? Is there dramatic lighting? Dynamic special effects? Serious journalists? If not, check out this 2003 clip from the old “Media Matters” show on PBS about “The Blogosphere”. (Discovered via Anil Dash’s feed on Threads or Bluesky)

As part of its 20th anniversary celebration, Engadget is looking back to 2004. Pranav Dixit looked at how WhatsApp became the world’s default communication app, Karissa Bell looked at how YouTube created the creator economy, and Davindra Hardawar dug into how streaming video changed the internet forever.

Sequencer is a new writer-owned “science magazine for the 21st century”. I’m intrigued and following their feed.

Thanks for reading! 🌼
That’s all the updates for this week. Subscribe to get the Weekly Update in your email inbox or favorite feed reader every week. Miss last week’s update? Get the March 23 edition here.

Image via Canva. Free for commercial use, no attribution required.


  1. Sequencer has an RSS feed. Added to my Feedly.

    1. I'm hoping more independent news reporting emerges, since all the news organization shut downs and cuts make it harder to find independent reporting.


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