The Center for Digital Democracy and nine other children’s and consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint today with the Federal Trade Commission on Google’s recently released YouTube Kids app, raising concerns over the advertising displayed within the program.
The CDD writes that Google “appears to have ignored not only the scientific research on children’s developmental limitations, but also the well-established system of advertising safeguards that has been in place on both broadcast and cable television for decades.” As Josh Golin, an associate director for Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, said in a statement, “There is nothing ‘child friendly’ about an app that obliterates long-standing principles designed to protect kids from commercialism.”
“The Commission has received the letter and will review the concerns raised by these groups,” said Peter Kaplan of the FTC in an email to Billboard.
Specifically, the organization cites the app’s “intermixing of advertising and programming,” branded content channels from companies like McDonald’s and Barbie, and the user-generated programming within, with CDD says may feature product placements not disclosed as being such.
“We worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups when developing YouTube Kids,” a YouTube spokesperson tells Billboard in response to the complaint. “While we are always open to feedback on ways to improve the app, we were not contacted directly by the signers of this letter and strongly disagree with their contentions.”