YouTube’s Privacy Overhaul Will Hit Kid Channels Hard

Image: Getty / Artur Debat

From Tuesday, YouTube will begin changing how its ads function for certain videos following a landmark privacy ruling settled in September of 2019.

Videos categorised as “made for kids” will now have targeted advertisements, user comments, live chats, and some other features removed, regardless of the viewer’s age.

This comes after the US Federal Trade Commission found in September that Google was in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) for collecting data from minors, issuing a fine and prompting changes to its YouTube platform.

“YouTube now treats personal information from anyone watching children’s content on the platform as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user,” the company wrote in a recent blog post.

These features are considered more valuable than others, particularly when it comes to targeted ads, so the ruling will likely have an impact on the platform’s overall revenue. Google has also warned content creators that it could affect a large chunk of their own ad sales.

Videos targeted to children will also have the text “made for kids” added to the bottom, which links users to the YouTube Kids app.

Exactly what is considered a “made for kids” video is fairly broad in the eyes of COPPA, but generally encompasses clips featuring popular animations, kids reviewing or playing with toys, and other similar content. Fines can also be handed to individual content creators should they violate COPPA in the future, a move that has concerned the creator community.

It’s not known how much of the platform’s content is made up of this kind of content, but YouTube’s biggest star, Felix Kjellberg (PewDiePie), has seemingly been caught up in the changes and has threatening to leave the site if YouTube continues down the path.

YouTube has told creators that it’s committed to helping them “navigate this new landscape and to supporting our ecosystem of family content”. The company is expected to share more information over the coming months.

We’ll likely hear more from the platform’s biggest creators on how these changes are affecting them during the week.