thoughts on COPPA

Submitted by oakreef in just_post (edited )

People have been talking about the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act because of Youtube.

The COPPA says that it is illegal for websites to collect information on children under 13 without express permission from parents. Generally social media sites have handled this by just putting in their TOS that you have to be over 13 to use the site. The US Federal Trade Commission have decided that isn't good enough, and have found Youtube liable for collecting data on children and fined them $170M on the grounds that they are making money off targetted advertisements aimed at children on popular children-aimed videos and therefore gathering information on children's browsing habits to facilitate that.

Youtube has responded with a system whereby people can tag their videos or channels as child aimed, which means Youtube will not gather any identifiable information from views of those videos including not allowing them to be commented on or voted on or any other interaction. In addition to people being able to manually flag videos people will also have their videos automatically flagged by Youtube's systems if those systems flag them as being probably aimed at children. FTC guidelines define that very broadly and include anything that can be construed as being interesting to children, citing things as vague as toys, bright colours and animation in general.

A lot of people are obviously very upset with this and are worried about their income sources. If Youtube are very sweeping with this it's likely that a lot of channels relating to games, animation and popular culture will be labelled as children-aimed and thus not have targetted ads (evil, but how these people make most of their money) and any form of user interaction. It's a really awful thing for a lot of people who make their income on Youtube.

But at the same time I think that a lot of people are in wilful denial over how much of their income was coming from targeted advertising of children. If you're making a video about popular games, about marvel movies, about Youtubers, a lot of your audience on Youtube is children. There's huge amounts of kids that spend massive amounts of free time on Youtube and they make up massive amounts of the userbase and probably most views, and most ad revenue on vast swathes of these kinds of channels. Most gaming channels are not Noah Caldwell-Gervais.

And I think a lot of people in that situation, where their income is, at the end of the day, coming from ads targetted to children, did not end up there on purpose. They just notice a pattern of what videos get more views and what patterns grow their channel. And they don't consciously think about how much of Youtube viewship is children and how many many of the things that help you get more viewers is just making it appeal more to a lot of children, even if that's not what you had in mind at all or who you wanted to target.


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devtesla wrote

youtube is such a fucking mess and I feel so bad for anyone who relies on youtube partner income. the rules for what makes you money and what doesn't changes rapidly, randomly, and opaquely. this COPPA stuff is entirely about google's horrible maintenance of youtube as a platform and the people who getting fucked over by google finally following the law deserve compensation


musou wrote

i think the bad part about this whole situation is something dan olson described pretty well in his video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuScIN4emyo

which is that the way youtube has handled the situation is calculated to place maximal responsibility and effort on the part of individual channels rather than on the infrastructure