Lawmakers are investigating YouTube Kids. They say the Google-owned video service feeds children inappropriate material in “a wasteland of vapid, consumerist content” so it can serve them ads.
In fact, the House subcommittee inquiry comes in despite Google agreeing to pay $170 million in 2019 to settle allegations that YouTube has personal data on children without their parents’ consent.
Lawmakers Sent a Letter
On Tuesday, a letter was sent to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the U.S. House Oversight and Reform subcommittee on economic and consumer policy. The letter stated YouTube should do more to protect kids from material that could harm them. Instead, it relies on AI and creators’ self-regulation to decide what videos make it onto the platform. The Illinois Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi addressed this in a letter. He is the committee’s chairman.
YouTube Kids Doesn’t Base Content on Kids’ Online Activity
The letter notes that despite the changes in the wake of the 2019 settlement, YouTube Kids still shows ads to children. That instead of basing it on kids’ online activity, it now aims it toward the videos they are watching.
Regarding a message for comment, YouTube did not immediately respond.
A year into the pandemic that has closed schools and left parents who in fact work from home are more and more relying on services such as YouTube to keep kids occupied, the congressional investigation took place found. As a result, this has led to a rethinking of “screen time” rules. There is obviously guilt over the number of time kids spend in front of screens. Even some experts recommend that parents focus on quality, not quantity.
Lawmakers Want Kids to Have Quality Content
However, lawmakers say YouTube Kids is anything but quality.
“No time or effort is made to determine the appropriateness of the content with regard to YouTube Kids. That is before it becomes available for children to watch,” the letter says. Content creators self-regulate YouTube Kids. The only thing YouTube asks they taken into consideration factors that include the subject matter of the video. That is whether the video has an emphasis on kids characters, themes, toys or games, and more.” Too bad lawmakers don’t consider the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and closing schools that is to the detriment of children and loss of their parent’s livelihood.