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Claims YouTube Illegally Tracked Kids Reportedly Spark Federal Investigation

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YouTube’s perpetual failure to ensure its product doesn’t exploit children has prompted an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into the company.

According to a report from the Washington Post on Wednesday, the FTC investigation into YouTube for how the company deals with the personal information of its youngest users is in its late stages and was triggered by complaints from children’s health and privacy groups. YouTube declined to comment on the investigation. A source told the Washington Post that the FTC investigation into YouTube may end in a settlement and a fine.

YouTube execs have also reportedly been ramping up chats internally on how the company can remedy its issues with regards to children’s videos. Aside from accusations that the company violates children’s privacy laws by collecting a wealth of data on children without parental consent, YouTube has also come under fire for suggesting some pretty horrific videos to kids. Not to mention the screwed up ways that its algorithms have been manipulated by pedophiles


As the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, that’s likely a major motivation for the company’s considerations to both push all children’s videos off of the main service into its YouTube Kids app as well as turn off the suggested videos system which automatically plays the next video in an algorithmically-generated queue. Though a person familiar with these plans said that executives are unlikely to go for the idea of pulling kids videos from YouTube altogether given the enormous amount of content uploaded to the service, the Washington Post reported.

“An FTC investigation into YouTube’s treatment of children online is long overdue,” U.S. Senator Ed Markey said in a statement to Gizmodo. “It is no secret that kids flock to YouTube every day, but the company has yet to take the necessary steps to protect its youngest users. I am pleased to see reports that the FTC is working to hold YouTube accountable for its actions.


“But we must do much more to ensure that our children are protected from online dangers known and unknown. In the coming weeks, I will introduce legislation that will combat online design features that coerce children and create bad habits, commercialization, and marketing that manipulate kids and push them into consumer culture, and the amplification of inappropriate and harmful content on the internet. It’s time for the adults in the room to step in and ensure that corporate profits no longer come before kids’ privacy.”