YouTube Kids’ “desolate wasteland,” says US lawmakers

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A US government committee describes YouTube Kids as “a wasteland of wasted consumer content.”

In the letter The US Economic and Consumer Policy Subcommittee told YouTube CEO Susan Wojcski that the platform is full of “inappropriate … very commercial content.” It was.

Google launched YouTube Kids in 2015 as a safe place for kids to browse the right content.

YouTube said it worked hard to provide “rich content for kids.”

A YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement: “For the past few years, we have been working hard to provide protection and control that allows children and families to display age-appropriate content.

“The YouTube Kids app has invested heavily in making it more secure and providing educational and fulfilling content for children, based on principles developed with professionals and parents.

“In addition, YouTube does not serve personalized ads with” children’s “content and applies additional protection to recommend age-appropriate content to children and families. “

“Hidden marketing”

In 2019, Google agreed to pay $ 170 million (£ 124 million) to collect and sell child data without parental consent in a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. .. YouTube is committed to protecting your child’s privacy and removing personalized ads.

According to the letter, some videos appeared to be “smuggling into hidden marketing and advertising in product placement by children influencers.”

The letter claimed that an unnamed research team found that only about 4% of videos had high educational value. Much of the rest was low-quality content, such as opening toys and videos of people playing video games.

He also said that a mother reported a video containing advice on how to commit suicide. After the video was reported, the letter claims that YouTube did not remove it for eight months.

The letter asked YouTube to provide a number of documents, including:

  • Information about the top 200 channels and, on average, the time children spend watching them

  • A detailed description of how paid ads are selected for display to children

  • Explain how the recommendation algorithm determines which videos to promote to your child

  • Number of videos deleted due to improper 2016-2020

  • Number of channels or creators blocked during the same period