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WashPost: US Said to Probe YouTube Over Children's Privacy

WashPost: US Said to Probe YouTube Over Children's Privacy
(Mohamed Ahmed Soliman | Dreamstime)

By    |   Wednesday, 19 June 2019 02:56 PM

The U.S. government reportedly is in the late stages of an investigation into YouTube for its handling of children’s videos.

The Washington Post reported that according to four people familiar with the matter the probe  threatens the company with a potential fine and already has prompted the tech giant to re-evaluate some of its business practices.

The Federal Trade Commission launched the investigation after numerous complaints from consumer groups and privacy advocates, according to the four people, who requested anonymity because such probes are supposed to be confidential. The complaints contended that YouTube, which is owned by Google, failed to protect kids who used the streaming-video service and improperly collected their data.

The Post report came hours after Bloomberg reported that YouTube is considering more changes to how content for kids shows up on the world’s largest video site as criticism mounts that it’s unsafe for children.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s (GOOG) Google, is debating changes involving kids’ content, according to a person familiar with the discussions. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that the company was mulling moving all videos for children to its separate YouTube Kids app. Such a drastic change is unlikely, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing in-house company deliberations.

The Google unit has long positioned itself as a neutral platform that lets anyone upload and watch whatever videos they want. But now the site is struggling to convince parents and advertisers that it can protect children from violent, upsetting and harmful content. On Monday, Bloomberg reported that children who use YouTube’s main site far outnumber those who stick to the safer, vetted YouTube Kids app.

YouTube has already made tweaks to the platform as it tries to create a safer site for children. The company banned comments on thousands of videos featuring kids after predators were found to be using the comment section to flag parts of the videos showing activities that could be twisted to be construed as sexual.

“We consider lots of ideas for improving YouTube and some remain just that -- ideas,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in an email. “Others, we develop and launch, like our restrictions to minors live streaming or updated hate speech policy.”

YouTube only recently made “responsible growth” its core metric, after years of focusing on engagement, even after employees flagged harmful and misleading videos to executives, Bloomberg reported earlier this year.

Major advertisers have frozen YouTube spending at various times out of fear their ads will be shown next to harmful videos. Still, the video site remains, with Facebook Inc. and Instagram, among the most popular places to advertise online.

Material from Bloomberg and Reuters has been used in this report.

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The U.S. government reportedly is in the late stages of an investigation into YouTube for its handling of children’s videos.
youtube, google, probe, children, privacy
Wednesday, 19 June 2019 02:56 PM
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