Do you have kids or know a child between the ages of three and 10? Well, chances are you have heard of the insanely popular YouTube channels Ryan ToyReview or Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes. Channels like these have tens of millions of subscribers and even more monthly views. What is different about these channels versus the likes of PewdiePie and the Paul Brothers is that these channels are specifically targeted to preschool and elementary school-aged children in the content that they produce.
Channels like these produce sponsored content and run ads, all geared at children under the age of 13. Advertising to children this way is a clear violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. COPPA regulates the collection of information about children under 13. To learn more about COPPA check out a previous thunder::tech blog about COPPA and internet safety for kids!
In a historic ruling on September 4, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined YouTube $170 million for its violations of children’s privacy. The FTC’s complaint alleges that “YouTube did not properly notify parents and get their consent before collecting and using their children’s personal information. Specifically, YouTube collected “persistent identifiers” such as cookies that are used to track viewers over time and across websites for advertising to children. In addition to paying the fine, of which $34 million will go to the state of New York and $136 million will go to the US Treasury for the COPPA penalty, YouTube must create a process for users to identify kid-centric content that will no longer be used for advertising purposes.
So what does this fine mean to viewers and content creators?
So now that kids are better protected (some say these new standards still aren’t enough), what does that mean for brands that have built a kids following on YouTube? Changes need to happen. With the ruling, YouTube understands that there will be a significant impact on many brands so the platform gave creators have four months from the ruling date to adjust their tactics before changes are to take effect on YouTube.
Now is the time to take a critical look at your content inventory and review who the desired and current audience is for each piece. Then, if you don’t already, it’s time to create your own COPPA-approved content checklist for new content production compliance. Lastly, keep an eye on the sky, or at least the legislation horizon for changes required of your favorite marketing mediums.
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