Google launched a variant of the YouTube app aimed for infants around four months ago, and since then it has been downloaded more than a million times from both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store combined. Although the YouTube Kids app has been well-adopted and praised by many, it hasn’t been free from criticism, as several children’s advocacy groups have filed two major complaints against Google’s own application. The first gripe directed towards the family-friendly YouTube Kids app, came in April, and involved the Federal Trade Commission about the branded content that appeared inside the app being rather “deceptive and unfair” for impressionable young viewers. The second complaint came in May, where inappropriate content was mentioned to be found in the application. The different children’s advocacy groups demanded an explanation about how YouTube selects or filters content that is added to the YouTube Kids app and what specific measures is the company taking to avoid showing inappropriate content to kids.
United States Senator, Bill Nelson, addressed the different concerns of consumer advocacy groups questioning the content shown within the YouTube Kids app, in a letter to Google CEO, Larry Page. In said letter, U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson, Inquired Google about the complete process to select a video that will be shown in the YouTube Kids app, so that the different advocacy groups and the Federal Trade Commission are certain that children using the app aren’t exposed to any inappropriate material. The content that the YouTube Kids app is allegedly showing includes references to sex, alcohol and drug use, child abuse, and pedophilia, among others. But, even if it has been the target of many severe accusations, YouTube Kids was also praised by Nelson as a great effort by Google to “create appropriate venues for children, who increasingly use online services for educational and entertainment purposes”.
Google is yet to respond to U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson’s letter, although the internet giant has previously responded to similar complaints by explaining how easy it is to flag an inappropriate video. YouTube is hard at work 24/7 to review any flagged video, and if in fact it doesn’t belong in the YouTube Kids app, it will be quickly removed.