YouTube has been struggling lately with updating its site to be more kid-friendly. Now the company is planning to limit the data collected from children’s videos to comply with new federal policies. This is the latest aftershock from the company’s $170 million settlement with the FTC.
New rules for children — Google is requiring creators to label children’s videos as such beginning in January 2020. And if a video has been labeled as child-directed, YouTube will automatically assume a child is watching the video. These videos will no longer have a dedicated comment section, and the suggested video feature will be removed, too. Because of new FTC rules, YouTube creators could be fined if they fail to properly label videos for kids.
But what counts as “child-directed”? — The new labeling system is already causing a headache for YouTube creators. No one’s been able to lay out a clear definition of what constitutes “child-directed” content. Is gaming for kids? How about toy reviews?
Many of YouTube’s most popular videos are watched by both children and adults, and right now there’s no protocol for these videos. The FTC has already received more than 175,000 complaint submissions as part of a review of child privacy rules.
Will this even work? — The most pressing issue with this method is that children are not only watching videos created for kids. Yes, it’s helpful that children will not be tracked after watching videos labeled for kids — but what about after watching videos made for broader audiences?
A flawed balance — The new system is also being criticized by creators for limiting their potential revenue, as targeted ads will no longer be allowed for children’s videos. While the new labeling system will limit the data collected from children, it will by no means eliminate it completely — and, in the process, creators will probably suffer.