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YouTube's COPPA policy

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The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a United States federal law, located at 15 U.S.C. §§ 6501–6506 (Pub.L. 105–277, 112 Stat. 2681-728, enacted October 21, 1998). The act applies to the online collection of personal information by persons or entities under U.S. jurisdiction about children under the age of thirteen (including those outside of the United States if the company is United States-based). It gained notoriety after YouTube announced they were applying the policy after a $170,000,000 lawsuit from the Government of the State of New York and the Federal Trade Commission.[1] The original cause of this controversy was a result of people uploading cartoons and toy reviews aimed toward children, among other things, which also led to parents allowing their children to watch such videos on YouTube, despite the target audience of the site being teenagers and adults. The YouTube Kids client app complied with these guidelines; however, several parents allowed their children to use the main YouTube client app, which ultimately resulted in the lawsuit and enactment of the policy.

Why This Policy Deserves a 👎

  1. The policy formed during a business decision by Susan Wojcicki, in which many popular YouTube videos deleted after checking if your channel is "made for kids".
  2. The new upload system is just a horrible decision to check if your video is "made for kids" or "not made for kids".
  3. Going off of that, the automatic mark of if a video is or isn't made for kids judging by the thumbnail is way too strict:
    1. If a video has any sort of drawn or animated character, vibrant colors, toys, the name of a family-friendly franchise, such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Super Mario (even though Nintendo repeatedly said that Mario is for all ages), or any other sort of thing that normally appeals to kids of all ages, then its automatically marked as such.
      • The policy also seems to believe that cartoons are only for kids (even though some cartoons are made for all ages), since they say they mark any video with cartoon characters in it as "made for kids" To add insult to injury, they have even marked videos with cartoon or child-friendly-looking characters containing graphic and inappropriate content as "made for kids", such as Wolfoo (a Peppa Pig rip-off with inappropriate content, despite being supposedly for kids), Cupcakes HD (a fan-made My Little Pony parody music video where Pinkie Pie murders her mane six friends), Racist Mario (a parody where Mario gruesomely kills various third-party characters, only to be killed off by Kratos from the God of War series, although the "Made for Kids" lock on that video was later removed), some Happy Tree Friends fan-made videos, "Secret Formula" (a crude parody of SpongeBob SquarePants by MeatCanyon in which there's a lot of sexual moaning and the parody isn't made for kids at all) and even Don't Hug Me I'm Scared (though the status of these videos as "made for kids" was later removed). So, kids can watch cute-looking cartoon animals getting murdered in an extremely gruesome way or puppets that at first look innocent but later become nightmare fuel? We're speechless.
    2. Several episodes of anime from series such as Naruto, Yu Yu Hakusho, One Piece, Gintama, Inuyasha, Bleach, K-On, Azumanga Diaoh, One Punch Man and Hunter X Hunter were also marked for kids even though some of them are not kid-friendly.
    3. A fanmade animation featuring Kazekage Gaara from the Naruto series killing Barney in a gruesome way also marked for kids. Thankfully, the mark was later removed.
      1. In addition, some inappropriate channels are also marked as made for kids despite their content, like a Triple Redd channel, 1400 Entertainment (now terminated), proving how broken the system is.[2]
    4. YouTuber AreaEightyNine, who makes clips on SpongeBob SquarePants, has had most of his videos marked as made for kids, but one of them was literally age-restricted at the same time.
    5. Various Call of Duty channel made by Activision which was used to automatically upload game footage into the channel (now privated around 2021) for some reason, was automatically marked for kids on all videos by bots despite containing content from a Mature-rated game and does not contain any kids content whatsoever.[3]
    6. The Aladdin recap animation by Cas van de Pol (a Dutch animator who is known for incorporating violent and gore scenes deliberately in his animations for comedic purposes) is marked for kids although it's got a scene where two characters are crushed by a car in a gruesome way at 1:52.[4]
    7. Multiple uploads of the Sesame Street parody sketches from Fox's MADtv get marked for kids, despite the sketches having some profanity and adult jokes.[5][6]
  4. If a video or an entire channel set as "made for kids", the following features will be disabled:
    1. Personalized ads (although to be fair, this feature requires collecting user data in any ways, such as watching history to function, ads without tracking will still be allowed however)
    2. Notification bell (which is nonsense because people wouldn't know when a new video is uploaded)
    3. Comments section (which makes some sense, but at the same time, if a video whose comments were previously enabled and the video is marked as made for kids, all the comments will be lost.)
    4. Community tab (If a channel that made for kids has 1K subscribers or more), or the Discussion tab (for people with less than 1K subscribers before October 2021)
    5. Stories tab
    6. Saving videos into playlists and watch later
      • It is still possible by going into the playlist, clicking the 3 dots icon, and then "add video", and paste the video URL, albeit still an inconvenience.
    7. The live chat
    8. Monetization features
    9. Miniplayer
      • Even when watching offline (YouTube Premium feature), when there is no way it can be collecting data.
      • This is dumb, as there's no good reason. See WIS#7 for more info.
    10. Channel memberships
    11. Appearing in search results
      • This reasons are quite stupid and ridiculous, and also didn't function correctly which making most Kids content still appearing in Search results (example being a reupload of Charlie bit my finger), especially since YouTube doesn't have a good reason.
    12. There is no way to re-enable those features, even if the only people who use your account or device are at least 13.
    13. The ability to save videos for offline viewing and playing audio in the background was disabled but later re-enabled at some point.
  5. The policy, in a nutshell, is essentially yet another censorship method punishing the entire YouTube community for the incompetence of parents not monitoring their children, but even worse. It also begs the question: What do these new rules have to do with keeping children's information private on the internet which is the reason why COPPA was signed into law in the first place?
  6. Even if you set your channel as "not made for kids'" you will still getting Community Guidelines strikes due to kids using adult accounts.
    • Most of your videos can also get removed for reason "Child Safety" despite your channel being as "not made for kids"
  7. On the mobile version of YouTube, you'll be constantly reminded when you use the mini-player on videos set as "made for kids" that it is disabled, even when used more than once. The thing that makes it worse though, is that you have to use the mini-player to close the video.
    • To add insult to injury, if you slide down on mobile and the message says that the miniplayer is disabled appears, the "learn more" link will positioned where the close button was supposed to be. Therefore, it is easy to unintentionally click "learn more" instead of the close button. This has since fixed.
    • It is unknown to what data YouTube needs to collect for the mini-player to work. However, they could have disabled collecting data on videos made for kids instead of completely disabling the mini-player.
  8. If you had a comment was popular in a video that was auto=claimed by YouTube, it will permanently lost due to the video set at "made for kids", and the comments section is disabled.
    • If a video restored from being for kids, the comments are not automatically brought back for reasons unknown this is problematic as all of those comments were worth time, and it takes too long to replace them with their former glory. However, sometimes YouTube can archive the comments section and restore it to its original state.
  9. Sometimes, the YouTube Bots will set a video as "Made for Kids (set by YouTube)", although once again, they are incredibly unintelligent as there are a lot of adult videos being set as this, even if they don't contain kids content. They ignore swear words, too, so this is pretty much why using bots to detect a video is a bad idea, it would have been better if the bot checked if it's not blocked by the restricted mode feature before marking it since it's common for videos to be viewable on YouTube Kids that are blocked on Restricted mode on regular YouTube. It's even possible for an age-restricted video to get set as "made for kids", though it's extremely rare.
    • There's at least a few channels such as 1400 Entertainment (formerly 1400 800 GANG, terminated as of 2022) above that got nearly all of their videos marked for kids despite containing content about mature songs.
    • Originally Starter Squad episodes 1, 4, and 6 were marked as "not made for kids" but suddenly it was marked as "made for kids" by YouTube, despite the fact the series has mature content. After it was restored to its "not made for kids" state, all of the comments made back when the video first released got wiped. However it was later been fixed, and the comments section is back.[7]
    • Even videos that are not supposed to be kid-friendly have gotten marked as made for kids, including some professional sports-related videos that may contain swear words, and even videos relating to the Emergency Alert System have also gotten marked.
  10. If there is a video that features a minor in any sort of way such as appearance or voice (or even a person who resembles a minor), the video will be marked as made for kids and the comments on the video will automatically be disabled, even if the minor is 13-17 years old.
    • The irony is, popular videos or popular YouTubers that feature minors do not get their comments disabled or marked as made for kids, giving them an unfair advantage over smaller YouTubers that feature minors.[8]
  11. Many COPPA-related videos are made between November 2019 and January 2020. As time went on, lesser people (except for small creators) were worried about it.
    • Some users might click on a video or have their YouTube channels marked as made for kids without even realizing.
  12. The lawsuit was stupid in the first place. Even though the main YouTube app requires you to be 13 years old (or above), the FTC still won, even though the COPPA act doesn't apply to YouTube. COPPA only applies if you knowingly collect info from a child (through ads), or if your site is directed to kids. YouTube couldn't have gotten the minor's age beforehand, and they aren't directed to kids, which means they were safe under COPPA rule.[9] Even if it was (or still is) true that YouTube collected info from kids, they couldn't have possibly known it.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Disabling comments can prevent people from sending kids nasty or hateful messages in the comments.
  2. Speaking of RQ#1, it can prevent kids from learning profanity.
  3. It had the potential to wipe inappropriate YouTube Kids Cartoons (especially Elsagate) out clean, but maybe they did a little too clean.
  4. The AI isn't as bad as it used to be when it comes to marking videos.

Trivia

  • Per the COPPA law, the FTC can fine you up to $42,530 for violation of the law, depending on severity.[10] However, it is very unlikely (although a nonzero chance) you will be fined this much for mislabeling your content.[11] It is a common misconception that this is YouTube's policy, however, this is an actual law that YouTube has no control over.

Videos

References

  1. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/04/tech/google-youtube-ftc-settlement/index.html
  2. 1400 Entertainment/1400 800 GANG Archived link. YouTube (Web Archive).
  3. CODblackopsXBOX channel. YouTube.
  4. https://youtu.be/zxDdML-Rh7I
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqUd6c9SKZQ
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHsrUZVmAds
  7. https://twitter.com/Shippiddge/status/1508757982665797635?cxt=HHwWhsCjjYfZl_ApAAAA
  8. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ob0GbuUr8wc
  9. (4) Disclosure The term "disclosure" means, concerning personal information- (A) the release of personal information collected from a child in identifiable form by an operator for any purpose, except where such information is provided to a person other than the operator who provides support for the internal operations of the website and does not disclose or use that information for any other purpose; and (B) making personal information collected from a child by a website or online service directed to children or with actual knowledge that such information was collected from a child, publicly available in identifiable form, by any means including by a public posting, through the Internet, or through- (i) a home page of a website; (ii) a pen pal service; (iii) an electronic mail service; (iv) a message board; or (v) a chat room. http://uscode.house.gov/view.xhtml?req=granuleid%3AUSC-prelim-title15-section6501&edition=prelim
  10. https://www.ftc.gov/business-guidance/blog/2019/11/youtube-channel-owners-your-content-directed-children
  11. https://vidiq.com/blog/post/how-likely-fine-youtube-ftc-coppa/

Comments

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