“The access that children have to YouTube carries with it a corporate obligation to institute and enforce policies that protect the well being of these young users.” As part of its FTC settlement, Google created a new system allowing YouTubers to mark their content as “Made for Kids.” Once they do, Google disables some of the site’s features, such as personalized advertising, commenting, and notifications for these videos.
But YouTubers seem confused about what these things mean in practice and why Google has implemented them. As a result, many are unintentionally spreading misinformation about children’s privacy law. Some claim that YouTube will have to ban certain types of content, such as videos about the popular game Roblox. Others, from food bloggers to a capella artists, worry that YouTube will have to disable all personalized advertising on a video just because a child may watch it. One commenter even said that she will have to start “swearing like a sailor” and incorporate more “adult” conversations into her videos in order to avoid being covered by COPPA.
…That’s not what COPPA does. Under this law, companies with content directed to children under 13 must inform parents what information they collect from kids and obtain parental permission before they collect it. So the content creators complaining that the law prohibits all personalized advertising are simply misinformed—and spreading that misinformation. If a company like Google really wanted to use personalized ads on videos for kids, it would just need to get parents’ permission first. But instead, Google is acting as if children on YouTube—and the protections they’re afforded—are relatively new phenomena, exacerbating content creators’ misunderstandings of the law.
People are such idiots.