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Google's Teen, Kid Targeted Changes Not Enough for Critics

YouTube building
(Image credit: Google/YouTube)

Critics of Google and YouTube were not appeased by parent Google's announcement that it had created new policies and user controls for teens and kids, calling for more action to address what it they called addictive features that harm kids.

The new policy, announced in a blog post by Mindy Brooks, Google general manager of kids and family, will allow anyone under 18 or their parent of guardian to request the removal of their images from Google search--which doesn't remove it from the web, she pointed out, but gives them "more control" of the images.

Among the other changes will be to change the default upload setting on YouTube for teens (13-17) to the most private option, apps will have to disclose in more detail how they use data they collect, and she says the company will "expand" safeguards "to prevent age-sensitive ad categories from being shown to teens.

But the group ParentsTogether called the announcement "half measures" and an "insufficient PR stunt."

In a stunt of their own, the group projected messages to that effect on the YouTube headquarters building in Los Angeles.

"It feels like seduction of kids, their minds and money,” was one of the projected quotes. It also delivered a petition to YouTube--claiming 10,000 signatures--from parents and educators asking that YouTube 'make autoplay off by default for all kids' content regardless of whether it is viewed on YouTube or YouTube Kids, and end video recommendations entirely on all kids' content."

While one of Google's announced changes was making autoplay off the default setting, the group says it does not, but should, apply to all content on both YouTube and YouTube Kids.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.