Parents will apparently soon have the option to deactivate non-curated content on the YouTube Kids app.
YouTube’s current Kids app relies on algorithms to source and select the content. This has led to a number of scandals about inappropriate footage making its way onto the service.
Now Buzzfeed reports that the Kids app will be updated to allow parents to deactivate algorithmically selected content and to limit the app to vetted video only. A release could be as little as a few weeks away.
However, the news arrives as YouTube owner Google faces another scandal.
The Guardian reports that a coalition of 23 child advocacy groups has filed a complaint with the FTC in the US that alleges Google has been collecting the data of users under the age of 13, which if true represents a breach of child protection laws.
The complaint specifies that while Google says YouTube is only intended for those above the age of 13, it operates knowing full well that millions of children below that age use its service. Therefore it is knowingly collecting such users’ data, including location, device identifiers and phone numbers.
Doing it for the kids
It cites statistics which claim YouTube is used by 80 per cent of six to 12 year olds in the US. Indeed, many of the site’s most popular channels are targeted specifically at these lower age brackets.
“For years, Google has abdicated its responsibility to kids and families by disingenuously claiming YouTube - a site rife with popular cartoons, nursery rhymes, and toy ads - is not for children under 13,” said CCFC executive director Josh Golin.
“Google profits immensely by delivering ads to kids and must comply with Coppa. It’s time for the FTC to hold Google accountable for its illegal data collection and advertising practices.”
A YouTube spokesperson added: “While we haven’t received the complaint, protecting kids and families has always been a top priority for us. We will read the complaint thoroughly and evaluate if there are things we can do to improve. Because YouTube is not for children, we’ve invested significantly in the creation of the YouTube Kids app to offer an alternative specifically designed for children.”