The platform has made a number of policy changes in response to the pending settlement in recent weeks, most notably instituting an explicit ban on violent or “mature” videos that appear to be marketed toward children. The video service has also banned targeted ads on children’s videos, making the videos significantly less lucrative for creators and threatening an entire genre of YouTube content.
I think that's actually awesome, because as far as I'm concerned 25% of the "children's genre" of YouTube videos is mildly exploitative garbage that needs to die in a fire, another 25% is blatantly exploitative garbage that needs to be nuked from orbit, 25% more is creepy-disturbing nonsense whose creators frankly belong in either a mental or penal institution, and the remaining 25% is professionally-produced stuff that either wasn't monetized at all or wasn't made primarily for ad revenue and so will do fine with the reduced money.
In case it's not obvious, I have zero sympathy for parents who've decided to exploit their children for YouTube ad-money.
Ryan ToysReview — one of the most popular YouTube channels, with billions of views and more than 21 million subscribers — features an excitable 7-year-old named Ryan unboxing toys and playing with them and going on kid-friendly adventures. The channel, run by Ryan's parents, Shion and Loann Kaji, was YouTube's top earner in 2018, according to Forbes, bringing in $22 million.
But a watchdog group alleges Ryan ToysReview has raked in its profits under "deceptive native advertising" through product placement that youngsters are not able to discern as a sales pitch — a violation of Federal Trade Commission law.
In a complaint filed to the FTC dated Aug. 28, Truth in Advertising accuses the channel of deceptively promoting "a multitude of products to millions of preschool-aged children."
The channel, which has endorsements with a variety of companies, including Hardee's, Colgate and Chuck E. Cheese, does not always disclose that its content is sponsored, Truth in Advertising wrote, and if it does, the disclosures are often "inadequate" — mentioned in voiceovers that last for less than two seconds or flash in text on the screen that many in Ryan ToysReview's audience are too young to read.
"The preschool audience is unable to understand or even identify the difference between marketing material and organic content, even when there is a verbal indicator that attempts to identify the marketing content," the complaint states.
"Such deceptive ad campaigns are rampant on Ryan ToysReview and are deceiving millions of young children on a daily basis," it adds.
Earlier this month, Google, the parent company of YouTube, agreed to pay a record $170 million fine to settle claims over child privacy violations after regulators said the video site illegally collected personal information from children without their parents' consent, then used that information to target them with ads.
Some criticized the settlement as not being harsh enough, including Federal Trade Commissioner Rohit Chopra.
“The company baited children using nursery rhymes, cartoons and other kid-directed content on curated YouTube channels to feed its massively profitable behavioral advertising business,” he said in a statement at the time.