Does COPPA affect the gaming channels

Minefield YouTube is in because of kidfluencers

In 2018, a seven-year-old boy named Ryan was the highest paid person on YouTube. Forbes reports that Ryan ToysReview earned approximately $ 1 million in 2018 from June 22nd through June 1st 2017. That amount is deducted before taxes and operating fees are deducted, but that's still quite a lot for a seven year old. His parents won't confirm it, but Ryan has had advertising deals with several toy companies since then. Ryan ToysReview's YouTube channel began in 2015 (when Ryan was only three years old).

Ryan isn't the only kid on YouTube, however. There's also Jojo Siwa, a 15-year-old YouTube content creator who posted multiple videos from a target store. Why aim? Because she branded clothing lines with the general goods chain. In a video she bought a piece of her goods at a time. Another video showed Jojo taking her younger brother on a $ 500 shopping spree that is still in a Target store.

 

When you're done watching these kidfluencers' videos (whether it's toy reviews, vlogs, or YouTube game channels), more videos for kids will be suggested in the sidebar or below the video. In fact, Ryan's ToysReview YouTube channel has this slogan: "Toy Review for Children from One Child!" With so many child influencers on YouTube right now, influencing millions of children around the world, it becomes difficult to monitor and regulate them. This puts Google in a legal and ethical minefield, and it's not clear how to go about it.

Regulation of advertising with kid fluencers

Dona Fraser, director of the Child Advertising Review Unit, said in a statement: “The increase in sponsored content and influencers for children is very overwhelming. This has exploded before our eyes. How do you fight every child influencer out there now? "

Since its inception in 2015, YouTube has always been under (or beyond) the radar of traditional advertising rules. This can be due to the following reasons:

  • The site has grown so much that regulation is becoming more and more difficult. There are a billion active users every month. There are around 23 million YouTube channels, with more being created every day. That's a huge amount for the police. What's more, there are over 8 million kids using the YouTube Kids tool.
  • It is difficult to distinguish what content is ads and which ones don't. There are creators out there who create sponsored content masquerading as creative content, and children are most susceptible to this type of programming. It's different for the TV industry, as everyone knows that ads are shown during breaks. There is a clear distinction between ads and not ads. With the exception of sponsored placements on shows, which are usually stated in the credits.

In 2017, the Federal Trade Commission warned Instagram influencers to properly indicate whether a post is sponsored by a company. Because of this, you may see some Instagram posts from influencers marked as sponsored, “paid partnership” with a brand or company, or simply containing #ad.

 

 

On YouTube, tagging a video with text for which the entire video is playing is a huge problem for most viewers. According to Kristine Pack of Family Fun Pack, a YouTube channel with eight million subscribers and dozens of sponsored videos. Even so, Pack stated that she always discloses when her video posts are sponsored.

Says YouTube: “It is the responsibility of YouTube content creators to ensure that their content complies with local laws, regulations and guidelines for the YouTube community, including paid product placements. If the content is found to violate these guidelines, we will take action, including removing the content. "

Are children even allowed on YouTube?

YouTube has evaded the rules for kids on TV and in advertising, likely due to the age limit Terms of Use stated on its website. There it says that only children aged 13 and over are allowed to use YouTube:

 

It is clear, however, that children or their parents do not indicate the real ages of the children when registering. You can see this clearly by watching all of the videos aimed at younger children. Most of these are suggested at the end of a toy review or video with children.

"If they were really honest brokers about whether children were allowed on the platform, they would not have so much child content," said Colby Zintl, Vice President of Common Sense Media. Common Sense Media urges Congress to strengthen the guidelines so that children can use social media sites like Google and Facebook.

To address this issue with younger children using the website for video content, Google launched YouTube Kids, a mobile version of the app for children under the age of 13.

 

YouTube Kids reportedly doesn't show any sponsored videos. YouTube can filter such videos. There is a checkbox that video uploaders should tick if they receive money or free products while uploading the video to the main YouTube page. Despite this initiative, YouTube Kids was faced with controversies such as:

  • There are still sponsored videos on YouTube Kids: The Ad-Free Childhood Campaign found sponsored content uploaded by famous influencers. This could mean two things: either the uploaders are not being honest and not ticking the right box, or Google is not serious about filtering videos in the kids app.
  • There is still inappropriate content on YouTube Kids: Consumer and child advocacy groups complained to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that YouTube Kids contained content inappropriate for children. They say there is vulgarity, sexual language and jokes about pedophilia in the mobile app.

All of these things show how difficult it is for YouTube to monitor all of the content on its website. In 2017, the company attempted a major cleanup by deleting thousands of videos for children with inappropriate content. However, this was not enough.

It wasn't until February 2019 that a blogger revealed how easy it was to access pedophile content on YouTube for driving on innocent video clips made by children. This reveal caused advertisers such as Disney, Fortnite and Hasbro to stop advertising on YouTube.

In response, Google deleted hundreds of accounts that left pedophile comments. They also disabled the comments section of some videos featuring minors.

Josh Golin, General Manager of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, said, “YouTube pretends not to be a website for children when it suits them. And yet they benefit greatly from the fact that children are on the construction site. "

A child advocacy group said that 80% of American children ages six to 12 use YouTube. Because of this, Google can collect their personal information and earn money with targeted ads without seeking parental consent, such as by the Children's Online Privacy Act or COPPA.

 

Which children are cared for by their parents and which children by a fake YouTube friend who sells them things they cannot afford? pic.twitter.com/tLiwOwBi7O

- CCFC (@commercialfree) March 22, 2019

 

COPPA and Ad-Free Childhood Campaign are among the stakeholders calling on the FTC to investigate Google.