The recent launch of YouTube Kids might give Google some trouble. Consumer protection and child advocacy groups are targeting the company due to perceived questionable advertising practices in content targeted towards children.
In the complaint filed with the FTC, Google is accused of basically using an approach that presents ads and other promotion content “in ways that are deceptive and unfair to children.” Not only that, but Google is accused of presenting videos that showcase products that are endorsed by the company.
One practice targeted is the featuring of “unboxing videos.” As the name says, these are videos centered around the unboxing and describing of a product. The consumer groups said that Google failed to disclose its connections to the manufacturer of the products being featured. By failing to do so, the credibility of the endorsement could be affected as stated in the FTC’s “Guide Concerning the Use of Testimonials in Advertising” under § 255.5 “Disclosure of Material Connections.”
The complaint states that the goal is to have any content that could take advantage of children—unboxing videos and ads that violate the above FTC guide—and have called YouTube Kids basically all advertisements since it promotes programs in addition to products. YouTube commented on the complaint saying that it “consulted with numerous partners and child advocacy and privacy groups” when creating YouTube Kids and believe that the app doesn’t violate any FTC regulations on advertising.