Jump to content

YouTube facing investigation from federal government over inability to protect children


Recommended Posts

The company is working quickly internally to solve the issue




YouTube’s ongoing problems surrounding content that involves children has led to an investigation from the federal government, according to a new Washington Post report.


The Federal Trade Commission is said to be investigating YouTube’s data collection practices and failure to protect children, according to the Post. The investigation is reported to be in its late stages and was brought about after complaints from consumer groups and privacy advocates. The investigation also follows numerous reports and investigations from publications over the last several months demonstrating how YouTube’s autoplay and recommendation feature allows predators to take advantage of content on the platform featuring children. A spokesperson for the FTC declined to comment when asked by The Verge.


Policy makers have started to respond to the investigation. Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) called the investigation “into YouTube’s treatment of children online overdue,” in a press release issued today, adding that “the company has yet to take the necessary steps to protect its youngest users.”


Both YouTube and Google executives, including respective CEOs Susan Wojcicki and Sundar Pichai, have accelerated trying to find a solution to the growing issue. The company decided to close comments on the majority of videos starring children in February as a way to prevent predatory comments from spreading. The company has also prohibited minors from livestreaming without an adult in the room.


One of the biggest requests that YouTube executives have received from policy makers, critics, and even some employees is to stop recommending videos that contain children. A YouTube spokesperson told The New York Times earlier this month that doing so would hurt creators. Instead, the company has limited “recommendations on videos that it deems as putting children at risk,” according to the Times.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 1
  • Views 365
  • Created
  • Last Reply

YouTube executives reportedly mulling over removing all children’s content from main site





Google executives are reportedly discussing whether to remove all children’s videos from the site and have them exist solely on the standalone YouTube Kids app, according to a new Wall Street Journal report.


The move is being discussed within Google’s executive unit, according to the Journal, with the idea to move every single piece of content starring children into YouTube Kids. The move would be the most aggressive change undertaken by Google to fight predatory behavior targeting children on the site. A YouTube spokesperson told The Verge the company considers “lots of ideas for improving YouTube and some remain just that — ideas.”


Other employees at Google and YouTube are also reportedly asking executives to consider turning off a feature that automatically plays another video after the one you’re watching is finished, according to the Journal. It’s a direct response to numerous articles published over the last few months, including a recent investigation from The New York Times, that found both innocuous and predatory videos focused around children playing automatically.


The reports, alongside complaints from consumer groups and privacy advocates, have also prompted a federal investigation into YouTube by the Federal Trade Commission, according to the Washington Post. The investigation could result in Google receiving a fine over its inability to protect children, and may be another key reason Google execs are mulling this decision.


YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has acknowledged the company’s missteps over the last few weeks, the Journal adds, saying in an internal memo that some of those decisions were “disappointing and painful.”


Moving every video featuring or starring children to YouTube’s Kids app would come with its own array of issues. Logistically, it’s a nightmare: There are 500 hours of content uploaded to the platform every minute. The only way YouTube could actually pull off the seismic shift would be to drastically alter the platform’s infrastructure since content starring children is woven into the fabric of YouTube’s community. It’s something that YouTube, and parent company Google, have the means to do, but it’s unclear whether executives are willing to take that leap.


Children’s content includes some of the most popular videos and channels on YouTube, attracting billions of views and top advertisers. Family vloggers are some of the fastest growing channels. The greater creator community would also push back against the policy — a policy that opens the door to confusing questions. Take a creator like Jake Paul, who often vlogs with a four-year-old named Tidus. Would those vlogs no longer be allowed on the main site because Tidus is front and center, or are those acceptable because Paul is there?


YouTube Kids is dealing its own set of problems, too, which YouTube is still trying to combat. In 2015, just a few months after the app launched, a children’s watchdog group discovered a series of disturbing videos that lived on the app, including graphic discussions about pornography and suicide, explicit sexual language in cartoons, and modeling unsafe behaviors like playing with lit matches.


Those problems continued into 2017, when a larger investigation dug into disturbing content floating around the app, and it’s seemingly still a problem today. While YouTube Kids is arguably a safer app than the main site, moving videos over to the kid-focused platform doesn’t solve the issues with problematic videos already making it through. YouTube’s current attempts to protect children include disabling comment sections on videos that feature minors and disabling live-streaming options for kids unless a parent or guardian is present.


A complete overhaul seems unlikely, but what’s clear from the Journal’s report is that both Google and YouTube executives are putting forth a concentrated effort to try to solve one of several paramount problems afflicting the site.


Update June 19th, 2:46PM ET: Added that the Federal Trade Commission is reportedly in the late stages of an investigation into YouTube over children’s videos, after receiving multiple complaints from watchdog groups.



Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...