Brands have become the defenders of children on YouTube


Have the foxes become the guardians of the hen house?

When we think of issues surrounding digital media for kids, we tend to focus on privacy protection; protection from advertisers who might track a kid’s digital movements only to bombard them with so-called "personalized" messages along the way. Or even creepier, individually tracking their total "childhood," exploiting the opportunities when they're most susceptible in their emotional development. Laws have been written and enforced to protect against this, and after a little education and some obvious mistakes and blunders along the way, advertisers of children's brands have respected and even defended this protection.

We are parents too. 

Tracking kids is only part of the challenge when it comes to protecting them online. And for the most part, tracking only deals with advertisers and brands.  Little consideration is given to the obvious exploitation of children in the open content arena of the platforms themselves. 

We are all familiar with the dark side of an open social web. Many of us weep for humanity when faced with the hateful, sexually explicit, vulgar, and cruel comments left in the sections below. 

Consider how ill-equipped children are to deal with this type of content

How does a six-year-old react to sexually explicit comments left on their favorite videos? How about cruel comments left on their own videos? (more on this)

What should a nine-year-old think when a search for “how to” auto-populates with “how to have s*x with your children?” (more on this)

What should a seven-year-old do when they misspell their favorite YouTuber's name only to land on predatory content designed as a trap? (more on this)

It's all happening right now and over the last ten years, YouTube has taken little tangible action to curb this. 

That is ... until now. 

It seems to be the case that advertisers must pull funding in order to get YouTube motivated to make change. 

Remember earlier this year when ad dollars were pulled in order for YouTube to take action against Hate Speech? Here we go again. 

Over the past week, YouTube has reported to Vice News they have:

  • Terminated 270 YouTube accounts
  • Removed 150,000 videos from the platform
  • Turned off comments for over 625,000 videos targeted by child predators
  • Removed Ads from nearly 2 million videos and 50,000 channels “masquerading” as family content. 
  • Released a statement: "Content that endangers children is abhorrent and unacceptable to us.”

But only after Adidas, HP, Mars and several other advertisers “paused” their funding until this could be addressed. 

Seriously Youtube. You have get ahead of this. This is not a net-neutrality issue, nor is it a first amendment issue. 

This is a common sense issue. 

Stop waiting for advertisers to tell you to do what obviously needs doing.