YouTube is facing quite a bit of backlash because the YouTube Kids app is “awash with food and beverage marketing that you won’t find on other media platforms for young children,” according to complaints filed yesterday at the Federal Trade Commission yesterday by a two advocacy groups.
Buy Now: Sony PlaysStation VR In Stock Here
The second complaint asserts that “many videos on YouTube Kids appear to result from relationships and payments between advertisers, YouTube creators, and various intermediaries, including multichannel video programmers and advertising agencies that specialize in ‘influencer’ marketing.” It expands on a complaint filed in April.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) led the actions.
“Young children simply don’t have the cognitive ability to distinguish between ads and programming, and YouTube Kids takes advantage of that fact, the groups believe,” writes Sarah Perez.
“Even though the Coca-Cola Company has pledged to not market any beverages to children under 12, CCFC and CDD found 47 television commercials and 11 longer promotional videos for Coke and Coke Zero on YouTube Kids,” according to a release publicizing the complaint.
YouTube has over 31 TV commercials and 21 product placements for Oreos on the app. This includes videos where YouTube stars have to identify different types of Oreos.
“Google-owned YouTube says that all ads in the Kids app are pre-approved by YouTube’s policy team, ensuring that they adhere to the company’s standards, which prohibit ads that show food and beverages,” writes Julia Greenberg for Wired. “But screenshots provided in the complaint show what appear to be ads, promotional videos, or videos with product placement selling Reese’s peanut butter cups, Crunch bars, Hershey Kisses, Nutella, and Pop Tarts.”
A YouTube spokeswoman said: “While we are always open to feedback on ways to improve the app, we were not contacted directly by the signers of this letter and strongly disagree with their contentions, including the suggestion that no free, ad-supported experience for kids will ever be acceptable. We disagree and think that great content shouldn’t be reserved for only those families who can afford it.”
Don't Miss: See the first leaked Black Friday 2016 Ad
The FTC has been reviewing the situation since April, and they will consider it a matter of Consumer Protection.