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Sonic YouTube Videos in Danger -- Important Update!

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(Please see below for important update!)

In a lawsuit from the U.S.’s Federal Trade Commission (FTC), YouTube was found to have violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). In response, YouTube is rolling out a new set of policies, effective January 2020. While I am concerned about kids' privacy online, the new rules are potentially very problematic.

All videos on YouTube will be classified based on whether or not they’re “children’s content.” (This affects YouTube proper, not just “YouTube Kids”.)

“Kids” videos will have numerous features disabled, including likes, comments, notifications, and targeted ads. (Targeted ads make more money.)

It doesn’t matter if the viewer is logged in as an adult; YouTube "will treat data from anyone watching children’s content on YouTube as coming from a child, regardless of the age of the user." (Apparently parents can’t be trusted to stop kids from using their accounts, which seems pretty dumb, considering a kid using their parent’s account could use it to access adult content…)

Creators will be required to report whether or not their videos are for kids (meaning ages 0-13). Creators could get in trouble if they give the incorrect answer.

And here’s the really scary part: YouTube will “use machine learning to find videos that clearly target young audiences, for example those that have an emphasis on kids characters, themes, toys, or games.

There are many adult Sonic fans, but Sonic could easily be categorized as a children's series. Does this mean that all videos featuring Sonic characters and games will be classified as “children’s content”?  

Not necessarily. According to YouTube in 2017, “there are many cartoons in mainstream entertainment that are targeted towards adults, and feature characters doing things we wouldn’t necessarily want children to see. Those may be OK for YouTube.com, or if we require the viewer to be over 18, but not for someone younger. Similarly, an adult dressed as a popular family character could be questionable content for some audiences, but could also be meant for adults recorded at a comic book convention.”

But what about videos where it’s more ambiguous? What about channels that are intended for adults but don't necessarily have explicitly "adult" content? If such creators label their videos as not-for-kids, will they get in trouble with YouTube?

Should all Sonic YouTube creators start sprinkling the F-word into every video, in order to ensure that they’re able to label them as not-for-kids? Or would YouTube classify such videos as inappropriate children's content that should be removed? These kinds of questions need to be clarified.

Search “youtube kids ftc rules” on YouTube and you’ll see that numerous creators are very concerned about these new policies. But as of yet, I haven’t seen a single Sonic-related YouTube video about these rule changes, which tells me that not enough Sonic video creators are aware of them.

IMPORTANT UPDATE! (Oct. 11)

Turns out the FTC is planning to modify COPPA very soon, so they're taking public comments on it until October 23. Among the items they're seeking input on, there's (at least) one really important one: The part that forces websites like YouTube to treat all viewers of "children's content" as children, no matter what the viewer's actually age is. (See here.)

According to a group of senators, changing this rule would weaken children's privacy. I'm sure these senators mean well, but I don't think they realize there are actually many adults who enjoy content that the FTC might consider "child-directed." There is a very blurry line between content for kids and adults! And as one comment points out, "It seems that the only way to know if you are violating COPPA or not is to wait until [the FTC prosecutes] you."

As some of you have pointed out, YouTube brought this situation on itself, to a large extent. Even so, this is the law, so it may also affect other websites soon.

If you live in the US, please consider submitting a comment!!  (Link)

Please make sure your comment applies directly to the law, or it will be ignored. Consider starting your message with something like the following:

"The COPPA rule should be amended so that, if users identify their age when creating an account, general audience platforms can treat users as the age they identified, even when users are viewing child-directed content."

Consider reading Tips for Submitting Effective Comments. Of note: "The comment process is not a vote –one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters"

Also: All SonicTubers, please consider making a video about this urgent issue! 

(As a final note, please don't forget that kids' privacy is very important; but I honestly don't believe the upcoming YT changes will help kid at all.)

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Here's the source, if anyone wants to look for themselves.

Definitely a huge mistake on YouTube's part to not comply with these laws; I think their seemingly deliberate ignorance of their own user registration rules (only people 13+ can make an account) have done some real damage to them and then it spills over onto the users. Account categories (such as signing up for a family account or company account, as opposed to a personal account; something similar to how PayPal's registration works) would've been a fine solution to the problem, but it looks like it's too little, too late for that. The new rules are (mostly) not agreeable imo, but YT really shot themselves in the foot with this one.

The loss of targeted ads is definitely gonna be tough on family channels (like SonicSong182,) but I'm not seeing anything about the loss of audience engagement through comments or anything of the sort. If that's true, I'm wondering if that would also extend to livestreams, because that could very well also mean the end of Super Chat donations for said channels, which would be fairly devastating.

I make Sonic-related skits and whatnot but am not a partner; some of these videos are clean and others are a little more mature with some swearing and stuff. I don't think being a partner will effect me personally under the new rules too much, but if they are going to start categorizing videos as PG, PG-13, what have you, a possible silver lining to all this could be YT getting rid of the "inappropriate use of family-friendly characters" rules for their Partner Program, which I would be down for since that rule was ridiculous in my eyes.

In short: this really could've been prevented, the new rules are mostly an extreme that isn't really needed when a more reasonable alternative could've been implemented, but the categorization of what is and what isn't family content in and of itself (without the attachment of a "no comments/likes/notifications" rule) could result in a positive policy change on the website.

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This regulation is a good thing to be rid of Elsagate, but it’s too bad thousands of channels are caught in the crossfire, and in the end it adds another cherry atop the pile of removed YouTube features. If anyone wants to switch services, they really should by now. 

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...SonicTubers might be in danger?

7TzIPY2.gif

...OK real talk, it's going to be interesting seeing this pan out. Given the commentary approach a lot of SonicTubers take, I do have to wonder if they'd really fall under the kind of thing YouTube's proposing or if, dare I say it, they might exercise more discretion and stick it to the kind of stuff they'd normally try and curate for the Kids app - so like, real infant level stuff. 

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You know, this is kinda like the whole lootbox legislation thing that's been going on lately. Except instead of being brought forth through sheer greed, this time it happened both because of YouTube's trademark laziness AND all these jackasses doing this Elsagate type crap necessitating it in the first place. So for once it isn't completely YouTube's fault, but don't confuse that for defense, for they are still very much at fault. Of course knowing YouTube all the Elsagaters are gonna get away with it all and keep on keeping on while innocent channels are burned to the ground in signature YouTube fashion. Ugh...

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2 hours ago, Harkofthewaa said:

You know, this is kinda like the whole lootbox legislation thing that's been going on lately. Except instead of being brought forth through sheer greed, this time it happened both because of YouTube's trademark laziness AND all these jackasses doing this Elsagate type crap necessitating it in the first place. So for once it isn't completely YouTube's fault, but don't confuse that for defense, for they are still very much at fault. Of course knowing YouTube all the Elsagaters are gonna get away with it all and keep on keeping on while innocent channels are burned to the ground in signature YouTube fashion. Ugh...

Only for the cycle to start again with YouTube getting even tighter against Elsagaters, destroying more of the website until there is eventually nothing left but big, increasingly ugly corporations shilling products.

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3 hours ago, skull902 said:

The loss of targeted ads is definitely gonna be tough on family channels (like SonicSong182,) but I'm not seeing anything about the loss of audience engagement through comments or anything of the sort.

Oops, my bad, I definitely should have provided a link. Here's the main post from YouTube about the policy changes:

https://youtube.googleblog.com/2019/09/an-update-on-kids.html

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1 hour ago, Scritch the Cat said:

YouTube might be poised to piss itself into the grave, the way of Napster and MySpace.  Which is fine by my trust-busting standards.

Let’s be real, the decline started around 2009 or so. Who knows what happens to the site next? 

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Yeah this could be interesting but in my view kids shouldn't be watching channels with that sort of language in to begin with and creators shouldn't be F-bombing on vids aimed at younger audience. 

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IMPORTANT UPDATE!

Turns out the FTC is planning to modify COPPA very soon, so they're taking public comments on it until October 23. Among the items they're seeking input on, there's (at least) one really important one: The part that forces websites like YouTube to treat all viewers of "children's content" as children, no matter what the viewer's actually age is. (See here.)

According to a group of senators, changing this rule would weaken children's privacy. I'm sure these senators mean well, but I don't think they realize there are actually many adults who enjoy content that the FTC might consider "child-directed." There is a very blurry line between content for kids and adults! And as one comment points out, "It seems that the only way to know if you are violating COPPA or not is to wait until [the FTC prosecutes] you."

As some of you have pointed out, YouTube brought this situation on itself, to a large extent. Even so, this is the law, so it may also affect other websites soon.

If you live in the US, please consider submitting a comment!!  (Link)

Please make sure your comment applies directly to the law, or it will be ignored. Consider starting your message with something like the following:

"The COPPA rule should be amended so that, if users identify their age when creating an account, general audience platforms can treat users as the age they identified, even when users are viewing child-directed content."

Consider reading Tips for Submitting Effective Comments. Of note: "The comment process is not a vote –one well supported comment is often more influential than a thousand form letters"

Also: All SonicTubers, please consider making a video about this urgent issue! 

(As a final note, please don't forget that kids' privacy is very important; but I honestly don't believe the upcoming YT changes will help kid at all.)

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