Child Advocates Slam Google for YouTube Kids App

A group of child advocates is asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Google's YouTube Kids app, claiming it is unfair and deceptive marketing geared to children under five.

The 12-page letter of complaint, which was submitted to the FTC by a coalition of medical and child safety advocacy groups on Tuesday, alleges that the app makes use of at least three types of deceptive marketing: it offers videos that contain an illegal mix of content and advertising aimed at children; much of the "user-generated" content fails to disclose relationships between the user and the manufacturers of the products endorsed in the videos; and much of the content violates the advertising policies of Google as well as the app itself.

EUThere is nothing 'child friendly' about an app that obliterates long-standing principles designed to protect kids from commercialism,EU said Josh Golin, Associate Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. EUYouTube Kids exploits childrenEUs developmental vulnerabilities by delivering a steady stream of advertising that masquerades as programming."

Other signers of the complaint include the Center for Digital Democracy, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Consumer Watchdog, and Public Citizen.

Alleged Violations of FCC Policy

Since the early 1970s, the Federal Communications Commission has regulated the amount and content of advertisements that can be directed at children. The core principle, the commission said, was that "basic fairness requires at least a clear separation between the program content and the commercial message so as to aid the child in developing an ability to distinguish between the two." These rules were created by the FCC because it governs the airways. However, there is no similar agency that has jurisdiction over Internet content.

The complaining organizations allege that the YouTube Kids app fails to maintain the necessary separation between content and advertising. For instance, the app offers kids...

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