YouTube receives fine for data-mining minors; passes the buck to its creators

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YouTube plans to change the platform in ways that could hurt its creator.

$170 million. That’s how much the popular video sharing site, Youtube, had to pay to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) earlier this year for violating COPPA (The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).

But this settlement came to a promise from the FTC towards YouTube, one which has the potential to cripple the site along with its creators permanently.

“Youtube (is required) to develop a system or mechanism that through which channel owners must mark their child-directed content on the Youtube Platform. So that such content can be treated in a COPPA compliant manner,” said Joseph Simons, chairman of the FTC, during a press conference on the issue.

Throughout this press conference, members of the FTC outlined what changes would need to be implemented in the coming months to Youtube and its Creators. COPPA was set up in 1998 when the internet was beginning to grow in popularity, especially with the youth of the time. It set up rules and systems that websites would have to follow when collecting information on its users, information that they could then sell to Ad companies.

Youtube has always known of COPPA, but they were able to avoid it for so long by listing in their terms of service that they aren’t meant for kids.

Under Age Requirements in the YouTube Terms of Service, it is listed: “You must be at least 13 years old.”

What landed them in hot water with the FTC was the fact that YouTube couldn’t help themselves but brag about having such a large viewer base made up of children. From popular shows like “Blippi” and videos of Mario, toddlers and preteens are addicted to YouTube content.

Once the FTC caught wind of this, they took YouTube and Google to court and took home the biggest loser in YouTube’s history.

If this were all, then it wouldn’t be the end of Youtube, a company that makes a little over $16 billion in annual revenue each year. Rather, the problem comes in what the FTC has stated it plans to do to the content creators on YouTube. For every violation of COPPA that the FTC sees, they can charge the creator $47,000 per video. This certainly spells doom for channels purposely aiming towards children but might also be the nail in the coffin for countless other channels.

“Right now, my favorite channel is probably Unus Annus,” junior Mackenzie Milani-Kaufman said. “It’s a channel created by Markipler (Mark Fischbach) and CrankGamePlay (Ethan Nestor), who both have their channels. Still, their going delete it in a year as a way of showing that they don’t care for this whole COPPA thing.”

While it’s not clear yet what exactly the FTC is going to label as kids content, it seems like some channels will be struck down.

YouTube in the past had pushed its creators to be more family-friendly, telling them not to curse or be punished with demonetization. As a result, creators have had to censor their content, which could also be seen as pandering towards a younger audience. But now they’re being punished with fines for being too child-friendly and might lose everything they’ve worked so hard for.

“I just think it’s really dumb,” senior Ryan Patterson said.