In the lawsuit settlement between FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and Google LLC, including its subsidiary YouTube, Google LLC will pay $170 million for allegedly violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule. The FTC is a U.S. government agency which regulates domestic trade, and due to the U.S.’ rather incomplete legal system regarding internet-related matters, this gives them jurisdiction over all consumer-related matters on the internet as they relate to U.S. citizens.
Starting in January 2020, individual channels owners who are not using the new labeling system correctly can be sued (rather than YouTube itself) for $42,000 per mislabeled video. Individual content creators make the majority of their earnings on targeted ads. This means that child-directed videos will no longer have targeted ads, a comment section, click-through info cards, end screen, notifications, etc., which are tools that content creators use to maintain engagement with their audience as well as monetization.
Under COPPA, content creators must now choose to either label as “child-directed” and lose the ability to make a living due to the loss of most of the monetization potential, or risk the FTC semi-arbitrarily deciding that the video in question is “child-directed” and face a potentially massive fine. This lose-lose situation may force creators to artificially increase the explicitness of their content or otherwise introduce adult themes just to avoid any possible ambiguity in the FTC’s interpretation.
YouTube has published a guide on November 22, 2019, that content creators can reference for guidelines on whether or not content is child-directed,
YouTube has also stated they will attempt to automatically identify child-directed content via machine learning. This process will flag videos, removing most monetization, and content creators will be unable to appeal.
Creators have started a petition to stop COPPA from restricting their content that you can contribute to here!
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