Exploiting Children? House Subcommittee SLAMS YouTube Kids as ‘Horrific,’ ‘Wasteland’

April 7th, 2021 2:16 PM

Congress has seen enough of YouTube allegedly exploiting children for monetary gain.

The House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy sent a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and demanded answers for, and changes to, the advertising practices and allegedly “low-quality” content of YouTube Kids. 

The letter began by addressing the $170 million settlement that Google and YouTube made with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the state of New York in 2019. The settlement occurred over allegations that YouTube had violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The FTC and the state of New York alleged that YouTube was “collecting and selling data from children without parental permission,” in violation of COPPA. The FTC received $136 million from the settlement, and New York received $34 million. 

The threat of retaliation from the FTC did little to stop YouTube from using questionable tactics for monetary gain. “Even after its privacy changes, YouTube Kids continues to show ads to children, but is now basing ad selection on the context of the video being watched, rather than web-browsing and online activity data,” lawmakers alleged in the letter. 

Lawmakers also raised issues with the “horrific” content available to children on the platform: “In practice, creators can designate any content as ‘made for kids.’ Once they do, the videos may be posted to the YouTube Kids platform.” One particularly mortifying example that the letter discussed was of a mother who watched a video on YouTube Kids with her son that “contained chilling advice on how to commit suicide.” Lawmakers went on to call the platform “a wasteland of vapid, consumerist content.”

The Subcommittee told Wojcicki that it “hopes that you have considered removing all advertisements from the two YouTube content settings limited to children aged seven years and younger.”

Last, the Subcommittee also expressed concerns over the time children can so easily spend on the platform. The autoplay feature on YouTube Kids “places the onus on the child to stop their viewing activity, rather than providing a natural break or end point. Without that natural stopping point, children are likely to continue watching for long periods of time.”

YouTube’s censorship practices are as ridiculous as they are hypocritical. The platform allowed a video containing suicide directions to target children for a time, but it quickly censored Senate testimony from doctors on COVID-19 because it contained so-called “misinformation.” YouTube also removed the channel of LifeSiteNews, and even censored a Newsmax interview with former President Donald Trump. 

Conservatives are under attack. Contact YouTube at 650-253-0000 and demand that Big Tech stop prioritizing profit over children, and provide equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.