YouTube Kids is now a standalone website dedicated to kid-friendly YouTube content. The website will provide a similar experience to the current YouTube Kids mobile app, allowing parents to guide their children to age-appropriate videos, monitor their viewing history, and flag items that YouTube’s filters missed. The site won’t have a sign-in option at first, but the business promises that will change later.
Before the official announcement of an FTC settlement, which is rumored to include a multimillion-dollar penalty against the Google-owned video platform for its violations of COPPA, the United States’ children’s privacy laws, the website’s impending launch was quietly announced by YouTube earlier this week.
When the FTC decision is made public, it won’t be the first of its kind.
The regulator smacked Musical.ly (formerly TikTok) with a record $5.7 million punishment earlier this year and ordered it to add an age-gate to its app.
The FTC’s YouTube decision will probably also call for a similar age-gate that directs kids under 13 to a COPPA-compliant, kid-safe YouTube website where kids’ personal information isn’t collected without parental agreement.
Ahead of the FTC statement, YouTube has made a number of modifications, including the launch of a new website.
This week, the business also added new age divisions for YouTube Kids, including a “Preschool” filter for children under the age of 4, a “Younger” group for children between the ages of 5 and 7, and an “Older” group for children over the age of 7.
And last week, the business expanded its child safety policies to ban all “misleading family content, including videos that target younger minors and their families and those that contain sexual themes, violence, obscene, or other mature themes not suitable for younger audiences,” rather than just restricting it as it had done before.
In 2017, YouTube had come under fire for having a number of strange and unsettling movies that were aimed at children utilizing keywords and the YouTube algorithms.
For instance, when youngsters searched for Peppa Pig videos, recordings depicting well-known children’s cartoon characters like Peppa Pig swallowing bleach or having her teeth yanked brutally would appear. In actuality, these kinds of problems had been present for a while, but YouTube didn’t take action until after prominent press coverage by age-restricting the videos. Additionally, some videos’ monetization was stopped.
Consumer advocacy groups have stated that YouTube’s main issue is not just that it can be improper for children but also because it is breaching the law.
Organizations like the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) have asked the FTC to look into YouTube because they believe the company has been collecting personal information from nearly 25 million American children for a number of years and using that information for “very sophisticated marketing techniques.”
The organizations claimed that YouTube does nothing to stop access by younger users while hiding behind its terms of service, which indicate that the site is exclusively intended for people 13 and over. (And it’s obvious that there are younger users on YouTube; after all, it was able to create its own YouTube Kids app in the first place.)
Now that YouTube Kids is launched, all that is left to do is await the FTC’s final decision.
The Washington Post reports that the specifics of that decision have been settled and that a significant fine was included. According to a Politico report published today, the penalty may be up to $200 million. Additionally, according to Bloomberg, YouTube will stop placing tailored adverts on kid-friendly videos.
Whether the kid-friendly content will actually be removed from YouTube.com and put exclusively on YouTube Kids, as the advocacy groups think would be preferable, is another question.
It’s unclear why YouTube has started making these extremely significant announcements on the Help forums rather than the official YouTube Blog and without informing the press, as it did with the changes to the age filtering policy, the children’s content policy, the pre-announcement of the Kids website, and the website’s launch news.
Having said that, it’s clearly focused on promoting its Kids offering to YouTube users; as a result, a large pop-up banner now shows upon each launch of YouTube.com, annoying users who don’t have kids.
There aren’t many new developments to share regarding the new Kids website itself. As with the app, the material is categorized into sections including Shows, Music, Explore, and Gaming. To prevent children from accessing the settings, parents can create their own passcode. The more sophisticated functions of the program, such as profiles, whitelisting, and timers, are still absent. Those are probably going to happen gradually.
“We created YouTube Kids to give parents the options to personalize the experience for their children while providing a safer space for kids to explore their hobbies and curiosities. Based on input from parents and professionals, we keep improving the app, claims YouTube.
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