YouTube was accused of violating the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and has been fined a record $170 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In the settlement, it was alleged that Google marketed YouTube to advertisers knowing that many channels were popular with children and that the company tracked the viewing histories of children in order to serve them adverts, which violates the COPPA.
The settlement will force both YouTube and content creators to identify content that is aimed at children on the platform because YouTube is now banned from collecting any personal data from viewers of any of those videos. Those that fail to comply with the new requirements may be penalized directly by the FTC.
In a press conference, the FTC said these penalties may include civil penalties or complete removal of creators from the platform. These consequences weren’t mentioned in the settlement agreement but were listed to make the creator community take note of the new requirements.
“Starting in four months, we will treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user,” YouTube wrote in a blog post. “This means that we will limit data collection and use on videos made for kids only to what is needed to support the operation of the service,” the company continued.
The new requirements may mean that content creators need to rethink how they use behavioural advertising technology to target their audience.
“We recognise this won’t be easy for some creators and are committed to working with them through this transition and providing resources to help them better understand these changes,” said YouTube in a statement online.
FTC said that once the requirements are implemented, it will scope out YouTube to find any child-directed content that still collects personally identifiable information. YouTube is also planning to use machine learning to detect this kind of content. It will then limit the data collection taking place on those videos.
The platform will limit data on child-directed content and stop serving personalised ads on those videos for now. It will also disable comments and notifications on these children’s videos.
In addition, content creators will have a new checkbox where they will need to make YouTube aware if their content is aimed at children.
YouTube is establishing a $100 million fund, disbursed over three years, dedicated to the creation of thoughtful, original children’s content on YouTube and YouTube Kids globally to ensure it keeps investing in the future of quality content.
In the next coming weeks, YouTube will share more about the new updates that impact content creators, brands and users alike.