Google, the parent company of YouTube, was fined $ 136 million after YouTube was found to collect data from children without the consent of their parents. The company will pay an additional $ 34 million to the state of New York for the matter, bringing the total fine to $ 170 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.
In addition, YouTube also announced on Monday that it will limit the data it collects from children in the future citing a fine that was a violation of the Child Online Privacy Act (COPPA) of 1998. The company made that decision per week, revealing that it is likely to affect monetization of content created for children.
The practice prohibits companies from collecting data from children under the age of 13 without the explicit consent of their parents. There is no real way to prove whether parents approve data collection, leaving tech companies like YouTube to simply enhance data collection in general, a move that undermines the development of content creators instead of YouTube, but remains necessary to comply with. the law.
Why the creators are worried
The company will no longer collect data from children in order to sell targeted advertising space in the ad space. Creators are likely to take the lead on the decision because they are ultimately paid based on how much ad space their content is able to sell.
With less demographic information available from YouTube, ad space is less valuable than adult-generated content – meaning any content not specifically designed for children, and not necessarily adult content. probably safe.
The company has recently begun to require creators to reveal whether their content is specifically designed for children. Failure to comply with these terms and conditions set by COPPA could lead directly to FTC fines to the authors.
YouTube has created a way to enforce its creators’ rules to prevent them from being held accountable, putting power in the hands of creators rather than the hosting platform – a threat to individual creators facing multi-million dollar lawsuits by federal organizations.
Where $ 170 million represents a small portion of YouTube’s revenue (which was probably budgeted), it could ruin the lives of content people.
YouTube provides no clear solution to a major problem
But what does “content for kids” mean anyway? This is a question YouTube doesn’t seem to answer, as the creators said the line between “child directed” and “child attractive” is pretty gray. A cardboard-free game, for example, could easily be misrepresented as an “attractive child”, since it cannot be specifically conceived with the child audience in mind, so as to help parents decide which gifts to buy for Christmas.
On the other hand, content creators who make content specifically for the child audience (I think for one video my sister plays her child son to keep him from shouting in the car), could face a significant loss profit from the fact that their videos are losing their monetization value over COPPA. But for good reason, as it protects children from falling victim to targeted ads intended to manipulate the public (imagine Cambridge Analytica targeting political ads to your children!).
Without a clear answer on how content creators should be treated fairly, while respecting privacy laws, YouTube faces the ever-increasing conflict of just how ethically they work in the digital age.