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YouTube Kids: What’s changed for 2020?

Staff Writer

Reading time: 2 mins

At the start of 2020, YouTube is making some big changes to the way it handles videos for children, from the way it uses data to the actual content itself.

The changes, which were first announced back in September, stem from concerns raised by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that the online video giant could be violating the US Children’s Online Privacy Protect Act. Along with a settlement last year, YouTube has introduced a raft of new measures to keep in line with the law.

So what’s changed? Firstly, all creators are now required to designate their content as made for kids or not in YouTube Studio.

According to the FTC, a video is made for kids if it is intended for kids, taking into consideration a variety of factors. These factors include the subject matter of the video, whether the video has an emphasis on kids characters, themes, toys or games, and more. As well as creators designating their own videos, YouTube is using machine learning to identify relevant content. YouTube says it will “only override a creator designation if abuse or error is detected”.

YouTube will also now treat personal information from anyone watching these videos as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user. This means that on videos made for kids, YouTube will limit data collection and use, which will also disable some product features. For example, it will no longer serve personalised ads on this content or support features such as comments, live chat, notification bells, stories and the “save to playlist” option.

Tens of millions of people currently use YouTube Kids every week, and YouTube will promote the platform across all its made-for-kids content. The online giant continues to work on the product, recently adding signed-in support for YouTube Kids on the web and connected devices — such as smart TVs — so parents can access and control their child’s YouTube Kids experience across even more surfaces.

“Responsibility is our number one priority at YouTube, and this includes protecting kids and their privacy. We’ve been significantly investing in the policies, products and practices to help us do this,” said YouTube in a blog post this week.

The only concern, then, revolves around the definition of content for children, with YouTube passing the buck to some degree onto creators to determine which videos of theirs are for children. If the FTC deems a channel has violated the law, a civil penalty could be charged, although the amount would vary depending on other factors. The result could well be a number of creators departing YouTube’s platform altogether to avoid any risk of either facing a fine or having their advertising revenue from their videos reduced.

“Many creators around the world have created quality kids content for their audiences, and these changes will have significant impact. We’re committed to helping creators navigate this new landscape and to supporting our ecosystem of family content,” said YouTube in a blog post this week.

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