YouTube has announced to have creators label any videos of theirs that may appeal to children. The change will start to take place in January 2020. If creators label a video as directed at kids, data collection will be blocked for all viewers, resulting in lower ad revenue. Labelled videos will lose some of the most popular features, including comments and end screens.
Google confirmed that the change is the result of a $170 million dollar settlement made with the FTC in September for allegedly violating children’s privacy. It’s the largest fine ever collected under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
The new system already has many creators in confusion over what exactly is considered kids’ content and what could happen if they unintentionally mislabel videos. Some of YouTube’s most popular categories fall into a gray area for the policy, including gaming videos, family vlogging, and toy reviews.
Dan Eardley, who reviews collectible toys on his channel Pixel Dan, said, “Creators are being held directly responsible by the FTC. So, if the FTC decides that [we] are indeed targeting children, we’ll be fined. That is frightening. It’s especially scary because the verbiage of ‘kid directed’ vs ‘kid attractive’ isn’t very clear. It’s hard to know if we’re in violation or not.”
In a video explaining the changes to creators, YouTube said, “Ultimately, we can’t provide legal advice. We’re unable to confirm whether or not your content is Made for Kids. That decision is up to you taking into consideration these factors.” YouTube goes on to ask creators to consult with a lawyer if they need help determining whether their content appeals to younger audiences.