Child advocates call for FTC probe of YouTube

They have also released a YouTube Kids app to allow children to interact with age-appropriate content. More than 20 child, consumer and privacy advocacy groups have accused the site of these practices.

Almost two dozen child advocacy and consumer watchdog groups are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google for allegedly violating children's privacy laws with its YouTube online video service.

"Google has not only made a vast amount of money by using children's personal information as part of its ad networks to target advertising, but has also profited from advertising revenues from ads on its YouTube channels that are watched by children", the groups said.

A complaint has been filed with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on YouTube, for allegedly collecting information of children under 13. The complaint specifically points to a YouTube channel called Ryan ToysReview, where a 6-year-old reviews toys.

Despite the fact that Google explicitly says that only those above 13 should use YouTube, it is well aware that those younger than that are using it to watch videos.

YouTube's business model is based on tracking user data like search history, location and other personal data to customize ads and their service for them.

A Twitter account claiming to belong to Prosox said: "Its just for fun i just use script "youtube-change-title-video" and i write "hacked" don t judge me i love youtube".

The YouTube Kids app is a child-friendly version and allows parents to control what their children are watching.

A spokesperson for YouTube responded to the allegations and said, "While we haven't received the complaint, protecting kids and families has always been a top priority for us".

None of those platforms are as popular for kids as YouTube, which has toddler-themed channels with names like ChuChuTV nursery rhymes, which as of last week counted more than 16 million subscribers and 13.4 billion views.

"YouTube also has actual knowledge that many children are on YouTube, as evidenced by disclosures from content providers, public statements by YouTube executives, and the creation of the YouTube Kids app". "YouTube accounts for over 30 percent of kids' online time, creating a major opportunity for advertisers in the sector", according to a 2017 report cited in the filing.

If the FTC does find that YouTube violated COPPA, it could force it to add an age gate - a screen that asks viewers if they're over 13. YouTube says the app complies will all COPPA rules, and doesn't collect data for ad-targeting. "Its illegal collection has been going on for many years and involves tens of millions of US children".

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