Skip to main content

YouTube to stop serving targeted ads to kids, but groups say it’s not enough

Youtube Webpage Stock Photo

YouTube has agreed to stop serving targeted advertisements to children, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. The company took the action in order to settle a Federal Trade Commission investigation to determine whether it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA).

The terms were not disclosed, so it’s unclear if this was the entirety of the settlement. A collection of 23 child advocacy groups had filed a complaint with the FTC, demanding an investigation into its business practices. The groups wanted to know how it recommends videos to children, what it does with the data it collects, and if it is using the information that it collects to serve ads.

COPPA bars companies from serving ads to children under 13 without parental permission. However, with thousands of kids videos on YouTube, the site has become a destination for kids to watch videos, often unsupervised by parents.

But the content isn’t always truly kid-friendly. Multiple investigations by journalists and interested parties found that children are exposed to inappropriate material on the site quite regularly. While YouTube has said that children should be using YouTube Kids, even that site has had its share of issues in what it allows children to view.

The agreement doesn’t appear to ban ads outright, but instead ends the practice of targeted advertisements based on the information it collects, according to the Bloomberg report. Research Loop Ventures estimates YouTube makes about $500 to $750 million annually in ad revenue from children’s videos, and ending targeting would erase about 10% of that revenue.

While a sizable chunk of ad revenue, it still leaves YouTube free to serve ads to kids in some form.

It appears that the groups that filed the initial complaint will be satisfied. One group, the Center for Digital Democracy, told Bloomberg that if curbing targeted ads was the basis of the settlement, it would likely challenge the decision.

That group, along with others, had demanded “meaningful changes” to YouTube’s business practices  in an open letter in June, and called for the moving of all children’s content to “a separate platform where targeted advertising, commercial data collection, links to other sites or content, and autoplay are prohibited.”

Editors' Recommendations

Ed Oswald
For fifteen years, Ed has written about the latest and greatest in gadgets and technology trends. At Digital Trends, he's…
Searches for health topics on YouTube now highlights personal stories
The red and white YouTube logo on a phone screen. The phone is on a white background.

Google and TikTok aren't the only places people look for information on health issues. YouTube is another resource people look to for educating themselves on health-related topics. Now, YouTube has launched a new feature in an attempt to further support those queries in a different way.

On Wednesday, the video-sharing website announced its latest feature via a blog post. Known as a Personal Stories shelf, the new search-related feature will yield a "shelf" of personal story videos about the health topics users search for. Essentially, if you search for a health topic, a Personal Stories shelf may appear in your search results and it will be populated with YouTube videos that feature personal stories about people who have experienced the health issue you searched for.

Read more
This beloved TikTok feature is coming to YouTube Shorts
Two mobile devices showing two people dancing in YouTube Shorts videos.

YouTube Shorts, the video-sharing website's answer to TikTok videos, is getting a new comment reply feature and with it, looks more like its wildly popular competitor.

On Thursday, the new feature was announced via an update to a YouTube Help thread titled "New Features and Updates for Shorts Viewers & Creators." The announcement was posted by a TeamYouTube community manager.

Read more
How to make a GIF from a YouTube video
woman sitting and using laptop

Sometimes, whether you're chatting with friends or posting on social media, words just aren't enough -- you need a GIF to fully convey your feelings. If there's a moment from a YouTube video that you want to snip into a GIF, the good news is that you don't need complex software to so it. There are now a bunch of ways to make a GIF from a YouTube video right in your browser.

If you want to use desktop software like Photoshop to make a GIF, then you'll need to download the YouTube video first before you can start making a GIF. However, if you don't want to go through that bother then there are several ways you can make a GIF right in your browser, without the need to download anything. That's ideal if you're working with a low-specced laptop or on a phone, as all the processing to make the GIF is done in the cloud rather than on your machine. With these options you can make quick and fun GIFs from YouTube videos in just a few minutes.
Use for great customization
Step 1: Find the YouTube video that you want to turn into a GIF (perhaps a NASA archive?) and copy its URL.

Read more