Repeal YouTube's new policy on "Made For Kids" content
Repeal YouTube's new policy on "Made For Kids" content
Well, 2020 is finally here, and everyone is looking forward to what great things are happening this year. But there is one thing not a single soul on the Internet is excited for. Something involving one of the world's largest streaming companies. No, I'm not talking about Netflix, Hulu, or the newly-launched Disney Plus.
I'm talking about YouTube.
Most people know for the past few years, YouTube's policies have changed, affecting the way we use the platform, and also affecting how much money gets into their creators' wallets. But this change will affect millions of videos from thousands of different creators, big and small. I'm talking about the new changes to YouTube's policies to comply with COPPA.
What is COPPA, you may ask?
COPPA, or the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, is a US federal law that aims to prevent tech companies (such as YouTube) from collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. While YouTube has clearly stated in the past that its website is intended for people 13 and older, and actually has no access to data collected from its users, they were fined $170 million by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for violating COPPA. This means YouTube was accused of knowingly collecting data from minors under 13 years old.
What are the new changes?
While the idea of protecting children's privacy on the Web may sound like a relief to most parents, many YouTube creators aren't happy with these changes. They argue that their experience on the site has been ruined, and are considering moving to other sites. This is because these changes greatly limit the features a YouTube video can have. Here's a breakdown of the new changes:
- YouTube creators are required to set their channel or individual videos as either "for kids" or "not for kids" in their channel settings. If they do not do so, YouTube's computerized algorithm will do it for them.
- Kid friendly videos will make only a fraction of how much money they used to make, with no personalized ads. This is bad news for small channels directed towards children.
- Kid friendly videos will have likes, dislikes, and comments disabled, as well as the ability to save the video in a playlist. Not only does this prevent parents from making a customized playlist for their child, it also takes away our basic human right to express our opinions on the shows and movies we love.
- As YouTube uses robots to detect which videos are "kid-friendly," there's guaranteed to be some stuff that slips through the cracks. Some inappropriate videos that users found that were listed as kid-friendly include a My Little Pony parody where characters brutally murder and cannibalize each other, a cartoon from the creator of Ren & Stimpy that has profanity and toilet humor, and clips from an episode of South Park.
Are there any penalties for violating these rules?
Yes. However, unlike a community guidelines strike or copyright strike, these penalties aren't carried out by YouTube itself, but by the US federal government, making the punishment much more severe. If a channel is found to be in violation of these rules, the channel owner could face a fine of $42,530 per video! That means, for example, if a channel owner has 125 videos that are all found to be in violation of COPPA, the channel owner could face a whopping fine of $5,316,250! That's enough to put any YouTube channel out of business. No fines have been issued yet, but an actual fine is unlikely unless the creator is actively targeting kids.
Many people would think it is too late for these rules to change, since they already went into effect. However, it is never too late to speak up and convince YouTube to change for the better. If we didn't speak up about laws/rules that are already in effect, slavery would still be legal, women wouldn't have the right to vote, and we wouldn't have affordable health care.
What can YouTube do to make a difference?
We can start with the vagueness of what constitutes "kid-friendly" on YouTube. There are no specific guidelines, but creators are encouraged to take into account the colors, music, and characters in the video, as well as the language being used. If they are not sure if their video is "kid-friendly," they are advised to consult a lawyer.
Another thing we should take into account is the lack of a "General Audience" setting. This setting could be used for cartoons that people of all ages enjoy, such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Looney Tunes, as well as gaming videos and toy unboxings. The "Made For Kids" setting could be used for toddlers and preschoolers, and videos featured on YouTube Kids.
The "general audience" setting would:
- Allow likes, dislikes, and comments, but have strict filters against obscenity, hate speech, and exploitative conduct.
- Allow ads, but only ones that are family-oriented.
- Allow videos to be saved to playlists, and will not appear on YouTube Kids.
With that being said, some of the things YouTube could do to make a difference include:
- Broaden the definition of "kid-friendly"
- Add a "General Audience" setting with less limited features.
- Advertise the YouTube Kids platform on the Internet, TV, billboards, etc.
- Add a feature that allows users to report videos if they are mislabeled as "for kids."
Another thing YouTube can do is repeal the new policies, but this would require no longer collecting data from its users, which would bar the possibility of personalized ads, and recommended videos. It would still be a big step in Internet history if we could get YouTube to make a difference for this new decade.
What could we do to make a difference?
One thing parents can do is control what their children have access to online. For many years, it has been the duty of the parents to be in charge of what their kids are exposed to. Putting YouTube behind a parental block can decrease the risk of children's data being collected, as well as bring a smile to parents everywhere.
While YouTube is doing a great job in protecting children's data online as of now, this doesn't mean they should limit the rights of its users to do so. One signature means one vote to make a difference on the Web. Please let us know what you think of this situation. We would be happy to hear your suggestions!