Friday 17 January 2020

YouTube to stop all comments on videos aimed at children

Limiting data collection: YouTube has moved to make its online platform safer for children. Photo: Bloomberg
Limiting data collection: YouTube has moved to make its online platform safer for children. Photo: Bloomberg
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

YouTube will today move to make its online video platform safer and less commercially exploitative of children by stopping all comments and personalised advertising on videos aimed at youngsters.

The move, which is the result of a €154m fine on the company by US regulators for improperly collecting personal data on children, is an extension of YouTube's action last year to ban comments from videos featuring younger children.

That was part of an effort to crack down on "predatory behaviour" from paedophiles targeting youngsters by leaving coded comments.

"YouTube now treats personal information from anyone watching children's content on the platform as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user," the company said in a blog post.

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"This means that on videos made for kids, we limit data collection and use, and as a result, we need to restrict or disable some product features. For example, we no longer serve personalised ads on this content or support features such as comments, live chat, notification bell, stories, save to playlist and others."

YouTube's move is likely to financially hit so-called 'influencers' and 'creators' who make videos aimed at children, as they won't be as lucrative without personalised advertising and notifications.

Videos focused on teen and child audiences attract billions of monthly views, earning some YouTube videographers millions of euro per year.

Meath-based brothers Ryan and Scott Fitzsimons recently filed accounts for their firm, Little Lizard, showing they shared a pay packet of €1.7m last year, based on a fan base of over four million YouTube followers. The brothers play Minecraft and post the videos online.

Their sister, Kelly Fitzsimons, has a similar business through her YouTube channel, Little Kelly Minecraft. Her daily videos attract up to 28 million views each, netting her six figures annually in ad income.

"We still recommend parents use YouTube Kids if they plan to allow kids under 13 to watch independently. In fact, tens of millions of people use YouTube Kids every week," said the YouTube blog post.

It is putting in place measures to stop video creators getting around the new rules.

Last year, YouTube owner Google was hit with a €154m fine by the US Federal Trade Commission to settle allegations it broke federal law by collecting personal information about children.

It had been accused of tracking viewers of children's channels using cookies without parental consent.

Irish Independent

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