Community Issues

YouTube Could Make Some Major Safety Changes Amid Reported Investigation

YouTube is considering changes to protect children from objectionable content.

The Washington Post reports that the federal government is in the late stages of YouTube's business practices related to children's content. The probe, which was supposed to remain confidential, could result in a major fine for YouTube.

Sources told the Washington Post that the investigation by the Federal Trade Commission was launched in part due to complaints dating back to 2015, and that a settlement could be forthcoming .

Prior to knowledge of the investigation becoming public, the Wall Street Journal reported that executives at YouTube, a division of Google, are considering moving all children's content onto a separate, stand-alone YouTube Kids app , as well as disabling the auto-play feature that automatically plays a new video after one has been completed.

Experts say this could have a major detrimental effect on YouTube's advertising revenue. Children's videos are some of the most popular on the platform, but the current YouTube Kids options gets just a fraction of the traffic of the main platform, which averages 1.9 billion users per month.

The deliberations follow a wave of negative press coverage for the video-streaming giant, including complaints that children can too easily access objectionable content. Parents say their children have sought out appropriate videos, only to be led to hate speech and videos, conspiracy-laden content, and videos discussing drug use, sexual behavior and references to suicide.

Just this year, YouTube and other social media platforms received widespread criticism when footage of mass shootings at two mosques in Chirstchurch, New Zealand quickly spread online. A recent study at Harvard University found YouTube's algorithm was recommending videos of prepubescent children to pedophiles to keep users on the platform longer. There has been a recent outcry about content on the platform that has been deemed homophobic and/or racist.

For now, the discussions about the future of YouTube's platform and children's content remain internal.

"We consider lots of ideas for improving YouTube and some remain just that - ideas," a YouTube spokeswoman told the Wall Street Journal.

In the meantime, you can manually turn off autoplay features and limit your children's access to YouTube Kids. For more information on how you can keep your children safe on the Internet and YouTube, click here .

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