Earlier this week, YouTube released a video for all creators on the platform instructing them to now flag their content as “made for kids” or “not made for kids” in response the changes to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). This video, subsequent documentation and the resulting discussion, videos, etc. have resulted in more concerned and confused creators since any of the previous Ad-Pocalypses.
Lauren, the Head of Family Partnerships at YouTube, had the unenviable task of recording this video (below). In it, its revealed that all creators must flag either their entire channel, or on a video by video basis whether or not their content is “made for kids”. YouTube shared the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) guidance for determining of your content is “made for kids” or not.
In the video, and their accompanying help documentation, YouTube provide the same guidance that the FTC provides in regards to determining whether your content is “made for kids”. Interesting note, YouTube are referring to it as “made for kids” and the FTC is saying “child directed” (creators should keep that in mind as they read through the documentation provided on their Help Pages).
A video is “made for kids/child directed” if:
- Children are the primary audience based on the factors described below.
- Children are not the primary audience, but the video is still directed to children based on the factors below.
The factors they want you to consider are:
- Subject matter of the video (e.g. educational content for preschoolers).
- Whether children are your intended or actual audience for the video.
- Whether the video includes child actors or models.
- Whether the video includes characters, celebrities, or toys that appeal to children, including animated characters or cartoon figures.
- Whether the language of the video is intended for children to understand.
- Whether the video includes activities that appeal to children, such as play-acting, simple songs or games, or early education.
- Whether the video includes songs, stories, or poems for children.
- Any other information you may have to help determine your video’s audience, like empirical evidence of the video’s audience.
For many creators its clearly cut and dry whether or not their content is “made for kids”, but for many in various niches like gaming, anime, and pop culture, there is nothing but confusion on how to effectively and correctly apply this setting across their channels.
What makes it worse, is the spectre of the FTC’s enforcement on videos incorrectly flagged. If successfully proven in a court of law, civil penalties of up to $42,530 can apply. This results in undue pressure on creators to “get it right”.
For all the details, you can read through YouTube’s documentation starting here.
At this point, creators have until January 1st 2020 to get their channels in order. From that point, the FTC will start enforcing COPPA in regards to YouTube creators and their videos.
What Can Be Done?
The FTC has public submissions open in regards to COPPA until December 9. This video below from YouTube Channel J House Law goes into details regarding the current state of COPPA and the FTC’s plans on enforcement and changes. I encourage all creators and viewers of YouTube content to watch it.
Jeremy also encourages creators and viewers of family content on YouTube to write submissions to the FTC regarding COPPA. Again, the details are in the video’s description.
We can also sign a petition to the FTC to save Family Friendly Content. You can very simply sign it here.
Some other videos worth watching if your a content creator on YouTube:
Time will tell if the FTC will go hardline on enforcing COPPA in it current state, make changes or relax enforcement.
Make sure to check in on this blog for updates, as we expect more information to be released as we move closer to the January 1st deadline.
If you have questions about the COPPA compliance on YouTube, make sure to read ALL the documentation and seek legal advice where necessary.
TubeBuddy has developed a tool to assist creators in identifying videos that have been marked “made for kids” by the creator or by YouTube. This tool is free and is available to all levels of licences, including the free licence. If you don’t have TubeBuddy, you can sign-up and download the browser plug-in here.