COPPA has landed, and it has got some YouTube Content Creators worried.

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If you’re a YouTube channel operator you probably received an email from Google about the FTC’s new Children’s Online Privacy Protection (“COPPA”) Rules for 2020 which officially take effect today. This has far-reaching implications for all YouTube channel operators. Here’s what we know:

1. Why did this happen?

  • A while back YouTube (a subsidiary of Alphabet) got into legal hot water with the U.S.’s Federal Trade Commission. The FTC alleged that YouTube video illegally collected minors’ collected personal information without their legal guardians’ consent, which is a violation of Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) Rule
  • YouTube then used “cookies” to viewers of these channels, earning millions of dollars of revenue while violating COPPA. This made the FTC quite upset.
  • An out of court settlement was reached with Google and YouTube agreeing to pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to the state of New York. This is the largest penalty paid as a result of a COPPA violation. Not exactly time to crack the champagne over breaking a record, but there it is.
  • In addition to the large fine, YouTube must institute new safeguards for content creators in order for their platform to comply with the new COPPA standards.

Dinesh Chugtai can tell you all about multi-million dollar COPPA violations.

2. What Does this Mean for YouTube Creators?

  • Every time you upload a video you’ll be required to state whether or not this video is made for kids
  • If it IS made for kids (or determined by YouTube’s machine learning or moderation team that it IS made for kids) you will not be able to add targeted ads, enable comments, live chat, show the notification bell, display a ‘Donate button’ on your ad, and other monetization tools.

3. Who has to abide by these new rules?

All creators. No exceptions.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as there are many YouTube channels whose mainstay are child viewers, such as Blippi, Cocomelon, twentytrucks, and pretty much all of the family vlog channels. And the youth demographic is the highest growing part of the YouTube audience- in the first week of 2019 a Pew Research study showed that videos featuring children 13 years of age and below were linked to more subscribers and more views, regardless of the intended target audience. And as with all major regulatory changes you can likely expect the other social media giants like Instagram/Facebook, TikTok to follow suit in the near future.

As for YouTube- they have the challenge of balancing their need for regular and new contant with their COPPA obligations. YouTube channel owners sound off on the new COPPA rules:

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