From Nigeria To India, Gen Z Taps Apps To Invest


This photo taken on October 5, 2021 shows 20-year-old college student Ishan Srivastava checking stocks online on his computer, while actively trading on apps on his smart phone, at his residence in Ghaziabad. Prakash SINGH / AFP

 

There’s a new generation of investors in town. They’re young, they get their tips on YouTube, and they’re armed with apps that make the stock markets more accessible than ever before.

US investment app Robinhood has made a splash in the West with its mission to open the markets to “everyday people”, but from Nigeria to India, Gen Z are flocking to homegrown equivalents.

“I don’t really care about my college, to be honest. It’s all market, market, and market,” said Delhi student Ishan Srivastava, who started trading last December.

Srivastava uses a handful of Indian trading apps, including Zerodha and Upstox, and often gets his financial advice from YouTube. The ambitious 20-year-old hopes to build a diverse investment portfolio and then retire by 45.

In India in particular, the investment revolution has been aided by a boom in “demat” accounts — easy-to-open electronic accounts for holding financial securities, equity, or debt.

But a similar app-led investment craze is also underway 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) away, in Nigeria.

 Banks ‘Less Attractive By The Month’ 

The country’s economic hub Lagos has long been known for its hustle and celebration of success, but the weakness of the naira currency has put extra pressure on youths to make cash as the cost of living has rocketed.

Nigerians have flocked to local apps such as Trove and Risevest which allow them to invest in US stocks, widely seen as a means of protecting wealth as the naira nightmare continues.

“I had the option of putting the money in the bank, but that is looking less attractive by the month,” said 23-year-old Dahunsi Oyedele.

“Sometimes I put my money in Risevest and get some returns in a week. Imagine getting one or two percent returns on 100,000 naira ($240) each week — that’s small, but it means a lot.”

For a few months after losing his job as a tech journalist due to the pandemic, Oyedele covered his rent by trading cryptocurrencies.

He is far from alone in turning to speculation during the Covid-19 crisis, as a combination of mass joblessness, stay-at-home orders, and — for the fortunate — underused savings have encouraged people worldwide to dabble in trading for the first time.

In the US alone more than 10 million new investors entered the markets in the first half of 2021, according to JMP Securities, some of them drawn in by social media hype around “meme stocks” like GameStop.

Worldwide, the new arrivals are largely young. Robinhood’s median US customer age is 31; India’s Upstox says more than 80 percent of its users are 35 or under, a figure matched by Nigeria’s Bamboo (83 percent).

Trading apps have lowered the barriers to entry for youngsters in part by offering fractional trade.

A share in Amazon, for instance, is currently worth more than $3,000 — unaffordable for the average Gen Z or slightly older millennial. But a small fraction of that share might be within reach, particularly on an app that charges zero commission.

 Flirting With Danger? 

Trading apps may have been hailed as democratising access to the markets, but critics say they could also make it easier for inexperienced young investors to get into hot water.

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether apps are irresponsibly encouraging overtrading using excessive email alerts and by making investment feel like a game.

And Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority warned in March that the new cohort of young investors — who skew in the UK towards being women and from minority backgrounds — have more to lose.

Nearly two-thirds of the new investors it surveyed said “a significant investment loss would have a fundamental impact on their current or future lifestyle”, the FCA found.

“This newer group of self-investors are more reliant on contemporary media (e.g. YouTube, social media) for tips and news,” the watchdog noted.

“This trend appears to be prompted by the accessibility offered by new investment apps.”

Some young investors have already been burned.

Mumbai-based product designer Ali Attarwala is giving trading a break after a bad experience with cryptocurrencies earlier this year.

“These apps make it easy to buy speculative assets like crypto, but there is still a lot of volatility in these new assets,” the 30-year-old told AFP.

Srivastava has also had ups and downs, but he sees his losses as part of the learning experience.

“When I started, I blew up almost 50 percent of the capital,” he said.

“I don’t treat them as my losses, but like education fees.”

AFP

Rwandan Police Arrest YouTubers, Opposition Members For ‘Spreading Rumours’

A file photo used to illustrate the story.

 

Rwandan police on Thursday announced the arrest of six people including the owner of a popular YouTube channel and three opposition party members for “spreading rumours” intended to undermine the government. 

The arrests came two weeks after a court sentenced a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to 15 years in prison for “inciting violence” following her criticism of President Paul Kagame.

In the latest round-up Wednesday, police took six people into custody including Nsengimana Theoneste, the owner of Umubavu TV — a YouTube channel with over 16 million views, which has previously urged Rwandans to denounce human rights abuses allegedly instigated by the government against citizens.

“They are an organised group with the intention to spread rumours intended to cause uprising or unrest among the population using different social media platforms,” Thierry Murangira, spokesman for the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), told AFP Thursday.

In a statement Wednesday, RIB urged Rwandans to be wary of social media commentators seeking to “undermine national security” and the government.

“Anyone arrested will be prosecuted in accordance with the law,” it added.

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 ‘Intimidation’ 

Three of those arrested belong to the unregistered Dalfa Umurunzi (Development and Liberty for All) opposition party, said leader and founder Victoire Ingabire.

“I take this as intimidation,” she told AFP.

“I don’t know what the rumours they are arrested for are about.”

Ingabire returned from exile in 2010 to run against Kagame, but was arrested and jailed for eight years on terrorism charges, a term later extended to 15 years. She was released by presidential pardon in 2018.

Several people have fallen foul of Rwandan authorities after turning to YouTube to publish content critical of the Kagame government, raising concern among international rights groups.

Last month Yvonne Idamage, a 42-year-old mother of four, was convicted of six charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 after she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship.

Rwanda, ruled by Kagame since the end of the 1994 genocide which left some 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsi dead, has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali’s crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs — notably the impact of strict anti-Covid measures which have hit the poor hard — have been threatened, arrested or prosecuted in the past year.

AFP

YouTube Removes R. Kelly Official Channels After Conviction

A file photo of R Kelly.

 

YouTube on Wednesday said it removed two official channels belonging to singer R. Kelly, who was recently convicted of operating a sex crimes ring that saw him abuse women and children for decades.

“We have terminated two channels linked to R. Kelly in accordance with our creator responsibility guidelines,” a YouTube spokesperson told AFP in a statement.

The “I Believe I Can Fly” singer, who for years reigned over the world of R&B, still has music available on YouTube music, where 137,000 people subscribe to the disgraced star, and third-party uploads of his songs are still allowed.

The removal follows years of protest from the #MuteRKelly movement. Long before the singer was indicted in four separate jurisdictions, the effort called to ban his music over long-standing abuse allegations.

His catalogue is still available on major platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.

Kelly, 54, was found guilty in September of nine criminal counts, including the most serious of racketeering, following six weeks of disturbing testimony accusing him of systematically recruiting women and teenagers for sex, before grooming and brutally abusing them.

He is currently incarcerated and faces up to life in prison, with his sentencing hearing scheduled for May 4.

Kelly is also slated for prosecution in three other jurisdictions, including Illinois federal court.

AFP

Rwandan YouTuber Jailed For 15 Years After Anti-Kagame Posts

Yvonne Idamange/YouTube

 

A Rwandan court on Thursday sentenced a prominent YouTube commentator and genocide survivor to 15 years in prison for “inciting violence” after she hit out at President Paul Kagame on her channel.

Yvonne Idamange is one of a number of people who have fallen foul of the authorities after turning to the video-sharing platform to publish content critical of the Kagame government, raising concern among international rights groups.

The 42-year-old mother of four, who was not in court for the verdict, was convicted of six charges, sentenced to 15 years behind bars and fined the equivalent of $2,000 — less than the 30 years and $6,000 sought by the prosecution.

Idamange, who survived the 1994 genocide, was arrested in February for “exhibiting behaviour that mixes politics, criminality, and madness”, police said at the time.

The Kigali High Court found her guilty of inciting violence and public uprising, denigrating genocide artefacts, spreading rumours and violent assault, among other charges.

The accusations were based on comments on her popular YouTube channel “Idamange” in which she accused Kagame and his government of dictatorship, and of exploiting the genocide without giving enough welfare to the survivors.

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Her YouTube channel boasts 18,900 subscribers and an average of 100,000 views per video.

Idamange had accused the court of bias and boycotted proceedings in June after her request for the trial to be broadcast online was rejected by the court.

Rwanda, ruled by Kagame since the end of a genocide which left some 800,000 mainly ethnic Tutsi dead, has often come under fire for rights abuses and a crackdown on freedom of speech, critics and the opposition.

In March, Human Rights Watch voiced alarm over Kigali’s crackdown on people using YouTube or blogs to speak out about sometimes controversial issues in Rwanda.

HRW said then that at least eight people reporting or commenting on current affairs — notably the impact of strict anti-Covid measures which have hit the poor hard — have been threatened, arrested, or prosecuted in the past year.

It pointed to a 2019 statement by Kagame to highlight the dangers faced by those using online platforms: “Those that you hear speak on the internet, whether they are in America, in South Africa, or in France, they think they are far.

“They are far, but they are close to the fire. The day they get closer, the fire will burn them.”

AFP

YouTube Cracks Down On Anti-COVID Vaccine Videos

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 24, 2019 shows the logo of the US Youtube logo application on the screen of a tablet. (Photo by Martin BUREAU / AFP)

 

 

YouTube said Wednesday it would remove videos that falsely claim approved vaccines are dangerous, as social networks seek to crack down on health misinformation around COVID-19 and other diseases.

Video-sharing giant YouTube has already banned posts that spread false myths around coronavirus treatments, including ones that share inaccurate claims about Covid-19 vaccines shown to be safe.

But the Google-owned site said its concerns about the spread of medical conspiracy theories went beyond the pandemic.

“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general,” the Google-owned website said in a statement.

“We’re now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines.”

READ ALSO: Russia Vows Retaliation After YouTube Blocks German RT Accounts

In this file photo taken on June 28, 2013 a webcam is positioned in front of YouTube’s logo in Paris. (Photo by LIONEL BONAVENTURE / AFP).

 

The expanded policy will apply to “currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO (World Health Organization).”

It will see false claims about routine immunizations for diseases like measles and Hepatitis B removed from YouTube.

These would include cases where vloggers have claimed that approved vaccines do not work, or wrongly linked them to chronic health effects.

Content that “falsely says that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them” will also be taken down.

“As with any significant update, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up enforcement,” YouTube added.

It stressed there would be exceptions to the new guidelines, with personal testimonials of negative experiences with vaccines still allowed, so long as “the channel doesn’t show a pattern of promoting vaccine hesitancy.”

YouTube said it had removed more than 130,000 videos since last year for violating its Covid-19 vaccine policies.

On Tuesday, the company told German media that it had blocked the German-language channels of Russia’s state broadcaster RT for violating its Covid misinformation guidelines.

YouTube said it had issued a warning to RT before shutting the two channels down, but the move has prompted a threat from Moscow to block the video site.

It is not the only social media giant grappling with how to deal with the spread of Covid-19 conspiracy theories and medical misinformation in general.

Facebook this month launched a renewed effort to tackle extremist and conspiracy groups, beginning by taking down a German network spreading Covid misinformation.

Russia Vows Retaliation After YouTube Blocks German RT Accounts

 

(FILES) YouTube said on September 29, 2021 it would remove videos that falsely claim approved vaccines are dangerous, as social networks seek to crack down on health misinformation around Covid-19 and other diseases. (Photo by Eric PIERMONT / AFP)

 

 

Russia has threatened retaliatory measures after YouTube blocked the German-language channels of state broadcaster RT for violating coronavirus disinformation rules.

The US video-sharing platform told German media on Tuesday that it had issued a warning to RT for violating its coronavirus disinformation guidelines and then shuttered two channels for breaching user terms.

The move comes amid an escalating standoff between foreign tech companies and the Kremlin, which accuses them of interfering in Russian politics, including by hosting content supportive of jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny.

Russia’s foreign ministry accused YouTube of an “unprecedented act of media aggression” which it said was likely aided by German authorities.

“The adoption of symmetrical retaliatory measures against German media in Russia… seems not only appropriate, but also necessary,” the ministry said in a statement.

“We believe these measures are the only possible way to stimulate our partners’ interest in a constructive and meaningful dialogue around this unacceptable situation,” it said.

Russia has recently been ramping up pressure on foreign tech giants as it seeks greater controls over content available online to its domestic audience.

Ahead of parliamentary elections this month, Russia’s media watchdog blocked dozens of websites linked to Navalny, whose organisations were banned in Russia under “extremism” legislation.

Courts have slapped non-compliant platforms, including Twitter, Google and Facebook, with a series of fines and in March started throttling the speed of Twitter’s services.

YouTube Says It Removed 1 Million ‘Dangerous’ Videos On COVID-19

YouTube logo.

 

 

YouTube said Wednesday it has removed more than one million videos with “dangerous coronavirus misinformation” since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The statement by the Google-owned video platform comes as social media platforms are under fire from political leaders for failing to stem the spread of false and harmful misinformation and disinformation about the virus and other topics.

YouTube said in a blog post it relies on “expert consensus from health organizations,” including the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, but noted that, in some cases, “misinformation is less clear-cut” as new facts emerge.

“Our policies center on the removal of any videos that can directly lead to egregious real world harm,” chief product officer Neal Mohan wrote.

“Since February of 2020, we’ve removed over one million videos related to dangerous coronavirus information, like false cures or claims of a hoax,” he said.

“In the midst of a global pandemic, everyone should be armed with absolutely the best information available to keep themselves and their families safe.”

YouTube said it was working to accelerate the process for removing videos with misinformation while simultaneously delivering those from authoritative sources.

Mohan said the platform currently removes close to 10 million videos per quarter and that the majority of them have been watched less than 10 times.

“Speedy removals will always be important but we know they’re not nearly enough… The most important thing we can do is increase the good and decrease the bad,” he said.

“When people now search for news or information, they get results optimized for quality, not for how sensational the content might be.”

YouTube also said it removed “thousands” of videos for violating election misinformation policies since the US vote in November, with three-fourths removed before hitting 100 views.

Google, YouTube Unveil New Safety Measures To Protect Kids

In this file photo taken on November 21, 2019, the Google and YouTube logos are seen at the entrance to the Google offices in Los Angeles, California. Alphabet is the parent company of Google and Youtube. Robyn Beck / AFP
In this file photo taken on November 21, 2019, the Google and YouTube logos are seen at the entrance to the Google offices in Los Angeles, California. Alphabet is the parent company of Google and Youtube. Robyn Beck / AFP

 

 

Google on Tuesday unveiled a series of online safety measures for children including a private setting for videos uploaded by teens and safeguard for ads shown to users under 18.

The new features, which come amid heightened concerns about online child exploitation and safety at a time of growing internet usage during the global pandemic, affect Google’s YouTube video platform as well its online services such as search and Google Assistant.

“As kids and teens spend more time online, parents, educators, child safety and privacy experts, and policy makers are rightly concerned about how to keep them safe,” said Google product and user experience director Mindy Brooks.

“We engage with these groups regularly, and share these concerns.”

Google’s “safe search” — which excludes sensitive or mature content — will be the default setting for users under 18, which up to now had been the case only for under-13 users.

On the massively popular YouTube platform, content from 13- to 17-year-olds will be private by default, the tech giant said.

“With private uploads, content can only be seen by the user and whomever they choose,” said a blog post by James Beser, head of product management for YouTube Kids and Family.

“We want to help younger users make informed decisions about their online footprint and digital privacy… If the user would like to make their content public, they can change the default upload visibility setting and we’ll provide reminders indicating who can see their video.”

Google will also make it easier for families to request removal of a child’s photos from image search requests.

“Of course, removing an image from search doesn’t remove it from the web, but we believe this change will help give young people more control of their images online,” Brooks said.

In another safety move, Google will turn off location history for all users under 18 globally, without an option to turn it back on. This is already in place for those under 13.

Google will also make changes in how it shows ads to minors, blocking any “age-sensitive” categories and banning targeting based on the age, gender or interests of people under 18.

‘Charlie Bit My Finger’ Video Fetches $760,000 At NFT Auction

The most-viewed viral video on YouTube will be taken down off the platform and will be auctioned off as an NFT.

 

 

Another classic piece of internet culture has been auctioned off for a six-figure sum, the latest viral sensation from the 2000s to be eagerly snapped up by digital collectors of “non fungible tokens” or NFTs.

The home video “Charlie Bit My Finger” sold for almost $761,000 on Sunday, the 14th anniversary of its debut.

In the 55-second YouTube clip from 2007, a British toddler named Harry holds his baby brother Charlie. But the adorable domestic scene takes a sudden turn when Harry puts his pointer finger into his brother’s mouth, and to his surprise, Charlie clamps down, spawning the much-memed lines: “ouch, Charlie” and “Charlie, that really hurt”.

With more than 883 million views, it’s one of YouTube’s most popular videos, though it will soon be removed from the platform. The Davies-Carr family announced they would delete it following Sunday’s auction, saying the highest bidder would become “the sole owner of this lovable piece of internet history”, though of course it has been copied, shared and reposted numerous times across the web.

The auction drew offers from 11 accounts and sparked a bidding war between users “mememaster” and “3fmusic”, the latter of which eventually won with a $760,999 offer.

NFT collectibles, essentially digital assets with a certificate of authenticity created by the blockchain, have exploded in popularity over the past year.

While the idea of buying something endlessly reproducible may bewilder some, a manic appetite for NFTs has taken hold in markets all over the world as buyers vie for bragging rights to a certified original.

Early internet memorabilia, including memes, GIFs, photos and videos, have done particularly well.

In March, Twitter boss Jack Dorsey sold his first tweet, from 2006, which reads “just setting up my twttr,” for $2.9 million to a Malaysia-based businessman.

An anonymous buyer snagged Nyan Cat, a 10-year-old animation of a flying, rainbow cat with a poptart body, for $590,000 the month before.

And “Disaster Girl”, a 16-year-old photo of a slyly smiling toddler with a house on fire in the background, was bought by a Dubai-based music studio for 180 Ethereum last month, the equivalent of almost $500,000 at the time.

YouTube Shuts TB Joshua’s Channel, Facebook Removes Some Content

A file photo of Prophet T.B. Joshua.

 

 

YouTube has suspended the account of a TV evangelist and founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, TB Joshua over allegations of “hate speech”.

The channel, which had more than 1.8 million subscribers, was closed down on 12 April after UK-based openDemocracy filed a complaint after reviewing seven videos posted on TB Joshua Ministries’ YouTube channel between 2016 and 2020, which show the preacher conducting prayers to “cure” gay people.

A YouTube spokesperson told openDemocracy that the channel had been closed because its policy, “YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit hate speech and we remove flagged videos and comments that violate these policies. In this case we have terminated the channel”.

YouTube says it “prohibits content which alleges that someone is mentally ill, diseased, or inferior because of their membership in a protected group including sexual orientation”.

The Facebook page, TB Joshua Ministries, which has more than 5.6 million followers says it has “removed a number of pieces of content from this page for violating these policies” unlike YouTube, which terminated the entire channel.

“We don’t allow attacks against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, including content promoting conversion therapy services,” said a Facebook company spokesperson. “We take attacks on the LGBT+ community incredibly seriously and encourage people to report this kind of content when they see it so we can investigate”

Facebook’s hate speech policy “prohibits attacks against people based on their protected characteristics, which include sexual orientation and gender identity”. This includes “content promoting conversion therapy services which aim to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.

In reaction to the video streaming platforms’s shut down of it’s channel, the TB Joshua Ministries Facebook account said: “We have had a long and fruitful relationship with YouTube and believe this decision was made in haste.”

Moroccan Youtuber Jailed Over ‘Insults’ To State

YouTube logo.

 

 

A court in Casablanca has sentenced a Moroccan-American YouTuber to three months in jail for “insulting” the state, his family said.

Known under the handle “3robi F’Merikane” (“A country person in America”), Chakib Omerani has for several years been posting videos critical of King Mohammed VI and Moroccan authorities.

“My brother was sentenced on March 25,” Mohamed Omerani wrote Thursday on his Facebook page, adding that he was also fined 42,000 dirhams ($4,600).

The YouTuber was arrested in early February on landing in Rabat from the United States where he lives, after authorities had issued a warning to Moroccans living at home or abroad.

Police and intelligence services in December accused individuals living abroad of having “insulted serving public officials and constitutional bodies”.

Streaming Drives 7.4% Global Music Growth In 2020

Streaming platforms, led by Spotify, Apple and Deezer, now account for 62.1 percent of global music revenues.

 

 

The global recorded music business grew by 7.4 percent last year, an industry body said Tuesday, as streaming continued to drive a fast-paced recovery from the doldrums of the piracy era.

The return of vinyl continued unabated with sales up 23.5 percent on the year before, while CDs continued their steady decline, down 11.9 percent, according to the annual report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI).

But it is streaming — up 19.9 percent — that has propelled the industry back to growth in the last decade, with overall revenues now at $21.6 billion, close to their level at the turn of the century before the internet began to devastate incomes.

Streaming platforms, led by Spotify, Apple and Deezer, now account for 62.1 percent of global music revenues, the report said, with some 443 million paying subscribers.

South Korean phenomemon BTS topped the overall best-sellers list, followed closely by Taylor Swift, Drake, The Weeknd and Billie Eilish.

Two songs broke through the two billion stream mark: The Weeknd’s “Blinding Lights” (2.72bn) and Tones and I’s “Dance Monkey” (2.34bn), while BTS dominated the album charts in both streaming and physical formats with “Map of the Soul: 7”.

IFPI said a major trend was the growth of global connections, despite pandemic-related travel restrictions.

“K-Pop continues to make great strides, of course, but I would argue the most exciting development this year has been how African music and African artists have been embraced by fans worldwide,” said Simon Robson of Warner Music in the report.

The African region was included for the first time, with growth of 8.4 percent, led by artists such as Burna Boy from Nigeria who picked up a Grammy for best global music album this month.

“What’s incredibly exciting is we now see artists from anywhere in the world have the ability to break into any other market in the world,” Dennis Kooker of Sony Music told a press conference for the report.

“There are no barriers to entry, no barriers to consumers who want to engage with an artist. It’s as exciting now creatively as I’ve ever seen.”

– ‘Misconception’ –
For all the good news, there have been mounting protests over the streaming economy, with many artists saying it benefits only the biggest stars and leaves little for mid-size and niche musicians.

Frances Moore, IFPI’s chief executive, dismissed claims that there were problems with the industry.

“The research that we did shows that artists’ revenues are higher than the revenues coming back to the industry after costs, etc. So from that point of view, there’s a misconception that artists are not doing well,” she told reporters.

She said the misconception was likely due to level of competition in a world where seven million artists are featured on Spotify, uploading 60,000 tracks per day.

“The role of the record company… is about being a partner of the artist,” added Konrad von Lohneysen, of German label Embassy of Music.

“We’re very confident our role will remain as it is and that artists will realise what they have with a label… in letting them to do what they want to do — make art.”