Since its launch in February 2015, the YouTube Kids app has found itself targeted by children’s advocacy groups. Among other complaints, these watchdogs have cited a large number of branded videos on the app, which they say “intermix commercial and other content” in a “deceptive and unfair” way.
Now, the advocacy groups have lodged another complaint. This time, they’re up in arms over videos that contain inappropriate content for children. In a letter to the FTC, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy cited videos that are “extremely disturbing and/or potentially harmful for young children to view,” all of which the advocacy groups claim to have found on the YouTube Kids app.
“Google promised parents that YouTube Kids would deliver appropriate content for children, but it has failed to fulfill its promise,” said Aaron Mackey, an attorney representing the groups, in a statement reported by the Wall Street Journal. To prove this point, The CCFC has put together a video that includes a few examples of inappropriate videos. Most frequently cited, for example, is a video that dubs over clips from The Animaniacs with Family Guy’s explicit musical number, “The Freaking FCC.”
YouTube Kids contains a plethora of premium content from known and trusted programmers, including a few high-profile original series. The user-uploaded videos cited in the complaint, however, seem to have undeniably slipped through the cracks. A YouTube spokeswoman has offered the following comment on the matter:
“We work to make the videos in YouTube Kids as family-friends as possible and take feedback very seriously. We appreciate people drawing problematic content to our attention, and make it possible for anyone to flag a video. Flagged videos are manually reviewed 24/7 and any videos that don’t belong in the app are removed. For parents who want a more restricted experience, we recommend that they turn off search.”
Parents who wish to follow YouTube’s advice can flag inappropriate videos here.