The good thing about an open platform like YouTube is that anyone can access it. Also, the problem with an open platform like YouTube is that anyone can access it. It’s the latter which has been hitting the news lately with YouTube looking for ways to prevent their system from being exploited. Preventing extremist behaviours and videos containing hate speech from hitting the front line of playlists has been a priority, especially for content consumed by kids.
The Wall Street Journal notes that:
Executives at the Google unit are debating moving all children’s content into a separate product, the stand-alone YouTube Kids app, to better protect young viewers from objectionable videos.
Now that’s huge for a number of reasons, starting with the dollars involved in advertising revenue on the YouTube Platform. It would require a major restructure and rethink of how content is published, significant work to go into (and maintenance of) the YouTube Kids app and how it’s all monetised for content creators and for Google. This becomes of particular importance when considering how much content is consumed by children via YouTube.
Sundar Pichai said in an interview with CNN:
We are very focused on removing harmful content and reducing the spread of what we think of as borderline content
The end goal of moving all content aimed at kids to a single app would be to improve the curation of the content and thus make parents feel more comfortable with their kids watching YouTube.
Ultimately as a service provider (paid or not) there is a duty of care that Google have to consumers to ensure that the content they are being served is not offensive or objectionable and identifying that content will always be a challenge — especially when everyone’s definition of the above differs.
Google have a lot of work to do to cover this need but there has been some discussion between YouTube employees around disabling suggested content for kids. Given the engagement (time spent on YouTube) that brings to the platform, that’s probably not a realistic option — and may also jeopardise Google’s ability to monetise videos for kids.
A serious question for parents: Would you pay $2 – $5 per month for access to YouTube Kids if you knew video content was published by verified content creators and/or curated by a human and confirmed as safe for kids to watch?