In a letter sent to YouTube CEO Susan Wojciech on Tuesday, the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy said YouTube is not doing enough to protect children from content that could harm them.
A U.S. House subcommittee investigating YouTube Kids says Google’s proprietary video service feeds kids “inappropriate content in a vapor, consumerist content” so it can serve their ads.
Google has agreed to pay 170m in 2019 to settle allegations that Google collected personal data of children in 2019 without the consent of their parents.
In a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojciech on Tuesday, the U.S. House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy said YouTube does not do enough to protect children from content that could harm them. Instead, according to the letter, it relies on artificial intelligence and creators ’self-control to decide what videos to make on the platform.
And despite the changes after the 2015 settlement, the letter notes, YouTube kids Still Shows kids ads. Instead of watching ads based on kids’ online activities, it now targets them based on the videos they’re watching.
YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A congressional investigation a year ago found a coronavirus epidemic that closed schools and parents working from increasingly dependent homes on services like YouTube to keep their children occupied has led parents to reconsider “screen time” rules and how much time children spend in front of the screen. It has created a sense of guilt, with some experts suggesting that parents focus on quality, not quantity.
But lawmakers say YouTube kids are nothing more than quality
“YouTube does not spend any time or effort determining the appropriateness of the content before it becomes available for children to watch,” the letter says. “YouTube allows kids to self-control the content creator. YouTube only requests that they consider issues related to the content of the video, whether the video emphasizes children’s characters, themes, toys or games, and more.”
Children under the age of 13 are protected by a federal law of 1998 that requires parental consent before companies can collect and share their personal information.
Under the 2019 settlement, Google agreed to work with video makers for content aimed at kids. It says users will limit data collection when they watch such videos, regardless of their age.
But lawmakers say that even after the settlement, YouTube Kids, which was launched in 2015, continues to exploit loofahs and promote children’s ads. While the original YouTube service did not target ads based on audience interest, it did track information about what kids were watching in order to offer videos. It also collects personal device data identification.
Also in other, quadruple ways ads are reaching out to children. A “high volume” of children’s videos, the letter said, was used by “influential kids” to smuggle hidden marketing and advertising along with product placements, often to children themselves.
“YouTube does not appear to be trying to prevent such problematic marketing,” the letter said. The House research team found that only four percent of the videos showed that “higher educational value” provided appropriate material to develop
The Kids app has helped turn YouTube into an increasingly lucrative outlet for advertising sales that Google and its corporate parent alphabet, located in Mountain View, California, USA, have achieved the most.
YouTube brought in nearly 20 20 billion in advertising revenue last year, more than double that just three years ago. The video site now accounts for about 13 percent of Google’s total ad sales, up from 8 percent in 2017.
The House subcommittee recommends shutting down YouTube advertising completely for children seven years of age or younger. It also asks if it gives parents the ability to turn off the “autoplay” feature, which is not currently possible (although parents have been able to set a timer to limit their children’s video viewing).
Lawmakers are urging YouTube to provide YouTube kids with top videos, channels and earnings information, as well as the number of videos viewed as a user in the average time spent and other information.