Media giant YouTube is struggling to solve its biggest problem: children’s privacy. Reported by the Wall Street Journal, executives are considering removing all children’s content from their website, potentially removing one of their biggest draws. Several events led them to this decision, most of which involve the lack of protection for children on their website, both as viewers and in videos.
YouTube has long been under fire for its failures to protect children. In 2015, YouTube launched YouTube Kids (the logo pictured above) to keep children safe. The idea was to provide an app where children could view and engage with their desired content without fear of running into mature or adult themes. YouTube Kids had its own set of issues, where videos about violence, suicide, and sexual themes somehow appeared on the app, as mentioned in an article by The Verge on the same topic. Earlier this month, to curb the complaints and the issues, YouTube announced it would no longer allow minors to stream or appear in videos without the presence of a parent or guardian (this terms of service change defines minors as 13 or under).
However, this was not enough if this upcoming decision is any indication. Still, under Federal Investigation, YouTube now considers removing children’s content entirely. The decision could profoundly impact various vloggers and users. It is currently not stated where that content would be welcome, but perhaps another site would replace it. Another solution proposed by the company is to remove the autoplay feature that will automatically pull videos and start them shortly after the original one has ended. Parents may start a harmless video for their child, only to find the autoplay feature pulled up something inappropriate. Note that the autoplay feature does pull from users’ watch history and likes and suggests videos based on that.
Possibly removing all children’s content, including the videos aimed at children and those that include children, could harm the userbase overall and see a severe drop in views. However, YouTube wants to try fixing this with another children’s only site. With how well the first iteration of a children’s only YouTube app went, it’s hard to imagine how well a new website is going to work out for them in the future.