Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie are making life difficult for YouTube. The gargantuan online video service’s recently-launched YouTube Kids app offers access to a segment of the famed Muppets swearing via dialog from Martin Scorsese’s Casino, as well as other content featuring adult themes, say two consumer groups. The groups claim the new video is just the latest example plucked from a heap of inappropriate content Google is attempting (and reportedly failing) to block from the new app, including alcohol ads and videos featuring sexual content, swearing, and inappropriate themes.
“Google is deceiving parents by marketing YouTube Kids as a safe place for children under five to explore, when, in reality, the app is rife with videos that would not meet anyone’s definition of ‘family friendly,’” the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said in a combined statement.
Along with the…the two groups cite a variety of offending YouTube Kids videos in addition to the Bert and Ernie skit, including an “Animaniacs” episode featuring words like “piss,” “fellatio” and “penis,” a Budweiser ad, President Obama joking with Jimmy Kimmel about marijuana, and jokes about pedophilia.
The offending content can be found by using the YouTube Kids’ ‘search’ feature. It’s certainly not what parents would expect when giving children access to the platform, tailored to children 5 and under. These allegations come just weeks after several consumer groups also filed complaints against an ad that “masquerades as programming.” The groups want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the service further.
When Variety spoke with a representative at Google, the company highlighted the platform’s video review system as a safeguard. “We work to make the videos in YouTube Kids as family-friendly as possible and take feedback very seriously. We appreciate people drawing problematic content to our attention, and make it possible for anyone to flag a video. Flagged videos are manually reviewed 24/7 and any videos that don’t belong in the app are removed. For parents who want a more restricted experience, we recommend that they turn off search.”
For those with curious young children, that’s probably a very wise suggestion.