Author Topic: YouTube, COPPA, and how many of us might be impacted by significant new changes  (Read 1159 times)

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Offline PayingTheRent

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As some of you may have heard, YouTube is rolling out a new strategy to comply with the FTC’s COPPA regulations in an attempt to shore up any loopholes that allow data to be collected on persons under the age of 13.

Under the new plan, individual channels will now have to designate whether or not their content is intended for children.

Channels that are intended for children will no longer have videos appear under Google search results, allow comments, etc., and both the type and number of ads that play will be substantially limited, if any ads will be shown at all.

Channels intended for maturer audiences should not see any noticeable changes.

This sounds all well and good, however, there are many gray areas as to what constitutes ‘children’s’ vs ‘mature’ content, and if a video is found to be suitable for children yet designated for adults, the FTC will reserve the right to fine that creator up to $42,530 per violation.

Not Google.  The creator.

How does this impact us?

Well, many of us have YouTube channels featuring game show content we’ve recorded from television over the years and want to share with the community at large.

Fremantle has been particularly lenient with what content they allow us to upload — basically allowing mostly anything from their game show library in exchange for placing ads on the videos that they can collect the revenue for. 

I have absolutely no idea how wide-reaching these new YouTube rules will be, but I do know most of the game show programs we upload are intended for a ‘general’ television audience, which includes children.  Does that mean our uploads will have to designated as being intended for children?

I’m certainly not the one to ask.

Furthermore, what will Fremantle (in this example) do moving forward?  Will they continue to allow us to upload?  Or is this enough of a gray area that they don’t want to risk any liability and move forward with blocking the videos we upload?

There are probably numerous other questions that can be asked here, but I believe this is something we should all be thinking about, especially if you are a creator.  Personally, I’m not making any changes to my own channel for the time being, but it’s something I may look into, as I don’t want to be held liable for potentially breaking any rules here.  That’s a hefty fine I want no part of.

Even if you don’t have a channel and simply enjoy watching your favorite game shows on YouTube, I feel you should be made aware of these changes, as well.
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Offline mechamind

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I wonder about the gray area myself. I'm not a game show video uploader, but I think about its two features which are absolute:

* Is this video made for kids? It's a simple Yes or No.
* Do you want to restrict your video to an adult audience (18+)? Also a Yes or No.

It's not the same as assigning a Y, Y7, G, PG, 14, or MA rating to your video; and I wonder how that's going to impact official channels, especially Jeopardy! since the clues can be about very serious topics.

Offline tpir04

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So doesn't this mean that any video suitable for children but not necessarily limited only to children will need to be designated as such, thus hidden from the rest of us? What exactly does hiding 95% of videos currently on the platform accomplish?

And what about this? Some have debunked it as complete and utter nonsense, and while I agree that it doesn't seem like a probable move, are we so sure?

Good job, YouTube. Keep it up.  :roll:
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Offline mellongraig

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I think from what I know, most of our creators fall into the mixed-audience category where children would be the secondary target and the mature audience the primary target. This would be a win-win situation here if the FTC reconsiders the plan (they are accepting comments until December 9).

Meanwhile there is a petition that is getting close to 700,000 signatures and counting to save family-friendly content on YouTube right here as well as the opportunity to write a comment to the FTC that has over 100,000 and counting:
https://www.change.org/p/youtubers-and-viewers-unite-against-ftc-regulation

Offline mechamind

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And what about this? Some have debunked it as complete and utter nonsense, and while I agree that it doesn't seem like a probable move, are we so sure?
For anyone who didn't see, the link is about whether a channel is "commercially viable", but I don't think this applies to game show uploads. In theory, a video could be matched for ad revenue, therefore I think it allows YouTube to make a bit of money from it.

I think the commercial viability is more related to political causes that could affect who spends on Google services, and one cause that comes to mind is the independence of Hong Kong (let's not get started debating on political issues here). But game shows don't really fall into the political category.

Offline Season36Fan

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I think there is a strong likleihood that this will end up in the Supreme Court on first amendment grounds, from not only the standpoint of freedom of speech and press, but also freedom of religion.   


The onus of compliance with a law like this should not be on creators, it should be on the platform to require a truthful statement about age and on parents to enforce compliance with that on their children.   Kids are going to lie, yes.   Parents are going to fail.   That doesn’t mean that you radically alter the platform itself.   We don’t close highways because people speed.   We ticket speeders. 
Let's all take a deep breath.
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Offline PayingTheRent

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I see a simple solution to all of this, but either it’s so overly simple that Google won’t consider it — which with their track record with other dumb YouTube changes, I wouldn’t be surprised — or they are too afraid of losing advertising revenue to consider it.

Require an account to watch videos.

Literally every other social media platform has you create an account — verifying the end user’s age to be over the age of 13 by their own admission — and they seem to do just fine (at least your Facebooks and Snapchats).

If kids want to watch, then let that be up to parents to decide via their own accounts.  Maybe set up a way for families to create individual profiles on a single account, like Netflix or Hulu does with great success.

If kids lie and make an account falsifying their age, then that’s on them and their parents.  The responsibility of children watching videos not meant for their viewership should not be at the hands of creators.  Period.

Even if this solution isn’t financially viable for Google, which I think is bulls***, then there are still probably multiple other means they can explore to comply with COPPA than this asinine ‘solution’ they’ve come up with.
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Offline pricefan18

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I see a simple solution to all of this, but either it’s so overly simple that Google won’t consider it — which with their track record with other dumb YouTube changes, I wouldn’t be surprised — or they are too afraid of losing advertising revenue to consider it.

Require an account to watch videos.

The kicker of it all is.....YouTube DOES require it for "adult themed" content. So they really in a sense don't need to do anything, but because Google/YouTube gonna Google/YouTube, they'll screw us all over as always. I don't expect less, not from them or any other major corporation. Haven't forever.

Offline ThomHuge

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...they'll screw us all over as always. I don't expect less, not from them or any other major corporation. Haven't forever.

A little harsh, wouldn't you say? How exactly do you expect Alphabet (which owns both the Google and YouTube brands) to "screw us all over"?

The kicker of it all is.....YouTube DOES require it for "adult themed" content. So they really in a sense don't need to do anything...

The one factor no one seems to be acknowledging here is that this may well be exactly what they agreed to as part of their settlement. If that's the case, then they're legally obligated to do exactly what they agreed to, letter and spirit; failure (or should I say provable failure) to do so would expose them to another round of legal action.

To me, the most obvious answer would be to have their bots crawl the platform and automatically designate content as one or the other, kind of like how the content ID matching works. In this case, the obvious answer is frought with issues of its own--if a bot designates a piece of content as "suitable for kids," but it actually isn't (think of how many times The Simpsons has parodied kid-friendly franchises in very un-kid-friendly ways), yet it has the impact they've described...it could create huge liabilities for them.

It makes far more sense to me to do what they're doing, give creators the ability to categorize their content as they believe it should be, with threats of fines serving to keep people honest.

As to the issue of "adult themed" content, I look at that a little differently. To use TV ratings, think about "TVY/Y7" content versus "TVG/PG," versus "TV14." Under the new YouTube system, I'd equate "adult themed" to TV14, which remains its own category; general stuff would be "G" or "PG," and anything for kids is the "Y" categories.

/All that said, if the language of the settlement allowed for leeway, PtR's solution would be the best and simplest approach. If they didn't pursue it, the answer is almost certainly related to impacts on ad revenue.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 05:48:35 PM by ThomHuge »

Offline pricefan18

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A little harsh, wouldn't you say? How exactly do you expect Alphabet (which owns both the Google and YouTube brands) to "screw us all over"?

Nah, I see the big corporations pretty much all the same. Out for their own interests firsts and any consumers second. And how? Essentially take more control over content than they already have and push the little people out in turn. It's what companies like these are known for. I feel they like a much smaller world than they may project out, and people like you and I don't fit that world from a business level. There's very little that they could do that would truly shock me in that way. We have a lot smaller voice than we really like to believe in matters like this.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 07:08:24 PM by pricefan18 »

Offline ThomHuge

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Nah, I see the big corporations pretty much all the same. Out for their own interests firsts and any consumers second.

No commercial enterprise that ignores the needs of its consumers survives. It's unrealistic to suggest otherwise. It's also unrealistic to suggest that large companies/big corporations will cater to individual consumers--like it or not, big companies serve big masses.

And how? Essentially take more control over content than they already have and push the little people out in turn.

Exactly what do you mean by "push the little people out in turn" in this context? How precisely are you suggesting Alphabet or its subsidiaries are going to do that?

It's what companies like these are known for. I feel they like a much smaller world than they may project out, and people like you and I don't fit that world from a business level.

None of this makes sense to me. Precisely what is the "it" that companies like these are known for? What are you talking about, "a much smaller world than they may project out"?

The only thing that makes sense to me is that part about "people like you and I" not fitting into their worldview from a business standpoint--no big company can 100% satisfy 100% of its customer base 100% of the time. The larger a customer base, the less realistic that becomes. The people they care the most about are the ones that make them money.

Trying to cater to every single consumer is a great way for them to go bankrupt.

There's very little that they could do that would truly shock me in that way. We have a lot smaller voice than we really like to believe in matters like this.

As I said above, this kind of company can't satisfy all their users all the time. You and I are a tiny, infinitesimal segment of their user base, so even in the best scenario our opinions don't count for much of anything. In this kind of scenario, where there are legal issues, our opinions might not count for anything at all--without knowing precisely what went into the legal settlement they reached, when there is a legal matter involved, it might not matter what anyone except Alphabet's lawyers say. Like I said before--they're bound, letter and spirit, by whatever terms they agreed to under the settlement.

Under more normal circumstances, only if a large enough fraction of the users that make them money react will the needle get moved at all. (And having worked with the public many times, my opinion is that it's a good thing that's how it works.)
« Last Edit: November 26, 2019, 07:47:26 PM by ThomHuge »

Offline therealcu2010

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I think there is a strong likleihood that this will end up in the Supreme Court on first amendment grounds, from not only the standpoint of freedom of speech and press, but also freedom of religion.   

Except this isn't a First Amendment violation. The First Amendment does not apply to private companies, i.e. Google.
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Offline PayingTheRent

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CU is correct.  Just as we mods can restrict what can and cannot be said on this forum, so can YouTube in deciding which videos to allow and how to promote them.  In fact, YouTube’s right to do so may itself be protected by the First Amendment to some degree.

The only way I can foresee SCOTUS getting involved is if/when the situation arises that a creator is actually fined by the FTC, particularly in a scenario where the content in question may fit certain guidelines but can be reasonably argued otherwise, and even then, this matter may never reach the highest court.  Regardless, I would wager some sort of legal challenge is almost certainly on the horizon — probably as soon as the first creator is fined under these new rules.
« Last Edit: November 27, 2019, 12:30:57 AM by PayingTheRent »
Pardon my language, but I do believe we all need to calm the f*** down.