COPPA overtakes YouTube and its Creators


If you’re subscribed to storytime animators, movie reviewers, or vloggers, you’ll find a warning label before the content begins: their content is intended for mature audiences only and anyone under 13 years of age should leave said video. There appears to be a chain of panic and confusion among YouTubers as the website was fined by the Federal Trade Commission for $170 million due to violating COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). 

COPPA is a 1998 act stating that any large websites (YouTube and Google specifically in this situation) are not allowed to collect data on a user under 13 years old. Unsurprisingly, these websites do collect data in order to recommend advertisements/products that appeal to you, such as hobbies, marital status, and interests. By using this algorithm, these websites figure out who you are as a person. YouTube has been caught breaking this rule, and now it content creators are left to suffer the consequences with new guidelines. 

These guidelines state that YouTubers must now mark the videos they upload as made for children or not. Strangely, the company has stated it will be using a machine learning system that classifies videos despite them also stating to not rely on the said machine since it’s not perfect. If a creator does not comply with these new guidelines, they or the website can either potentially face a fine by the FTC of around $42,000 or the website will classify their content for them. 

When classifying content, one has to consider the subject and appropriateness of the video. Illymation, a storytime animator, has a series of videos discussing abuse and overcoming it. The rather mature subject matter has  her to get demonetized, which she tweeted out November 18, stating “They [the videos] are now marked ‘not for kids.’ But COPPA/FTC says, animation=for kids. So will they get remonetized . . . or fined @YTCreators?”


Other YouTubers call out how ridiculous the punishments are for content creators. PewDiePie, a gaming channel with over 102 Million subscribers, sarcastically says, “Machine learning has worked so well before on Youtube. That makes no sense . . . control your children.”

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