NEW YORK (AP) – A council subcommittee is investigating YouTube Kids, saying that Google’s video service feeds children inappropriate content in “useless and consumerized content” so they can show ads.
The hearing comes despite Google agreeing to pay $ 170 million in 2019 to settle allegations that YouTube collects children’s personal information without parental consent.
In a letter sent Tuesday to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the U.S. Economic and Consumer Policy Regulatory and Reform Subcommittee said YouTube was not doing enough to protect children from content that could harm them. But it takes the creator’s artificial intelligence and self-control to decide which videos to get to the platform, according to a letter from Illinois Democrat Board Chair Raja Krishnamurti.
And despite that change after the 2019 deal ended, YouTube Kids is still showing ads to kids, but instead of based on their online activity, kids are now targeting the videos they’re watching.
YouTube says it seeks to provide protection and control for children and their families so that they can view age-appropriate content. It also reiterated that the 2019 deal is over the regular YouTube platform, not the kids version.
“We’ve made significant investments in the YouTube Kids app to make it safer and to provide more educational and enriching content for kids based on principles developed by experts and parents,” the company said.
A congressional investigation came a year into an epidemic that forced schools to shut down and made working-from-home parents more dependent on services like YouTube to keep their kids busy.This led to a review of the rules. “Screen time” is new and feels guilty about the amount of time the kids are in screen, with some experts suggesting that parents focus on quality, not quantity.
But lawmakers say YouTube Kids is anything but quality.
“YouTube Kids doesn’t take the time or effort to determine the suitability of the content before it’s open to kids,” the letter said. YouTube Kids allows content creators to control themselves. YouTube asks them to consider factors including the content. Of the video, whether the video focuses on children’s characters, themes, toys or games, and more. ”
Children under 13 are protected by federal law of 1998, which requires parental consent before companies can collect and share their personal information.
Under the 2019 deal, Google agreed to work with video creators to label content aimed at children, saying it would limit the collection of data when users watch it regardless of age.
But lawmakers said that even after the termination of the YouTube Kids Agreement, which was launched in 2015, it continued to exploit vulnerabilities and ads against children, even if it did not target ads based on audience interests, like YouTube’s flagship service. Instead, it keeps track of what the kids are watching to introduce the video. It also collects personally identifiable device information.
There are also other ways to sneaky ads reach kids. The letter says “large volumes of” children’s videos are hijacked, secretly marketed and advertised with product placements by “high volume”. “The influencer of the child” who is often the child himself.
“It seems that YouTube is not trying to prevent such problematic marketing,” the letter said. The House research team found that only 4% of the videos viewed there were. “High educational value”, which offers content suitable for development.
Children’s apps have helped transform YouTube into a more attractive channel for selling the most profitable ads to Google and parent company Alphabet, based in Mountain View, California.
YouTube earned nearly $ 20 billion in ad revenue last year, more than double the total three years ago. Video sites now account for about 13% of Google’s total ad sales, up slightly from more than 8% in 2017.
The House subcommittee recommends that YouTube completely shut down ads for children 7 and older. It also asks parents to turn off the feature. “Autoplay” which is currently not possible. (Although parents can set a timer to restrict their child’s video viewing)
Lawmakers asked YouTube to provide information on YouTube Kids’ popular videos, channels and revenue data, as well as the average time spent and the number of videos viewed per user, among other information.
AP technology writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this story.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This content may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
More stories you might be interested in.