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October 8, 2015

Senator Says Google Must Do More to Clean Up YouTube Kids

Google-owned YouTube could soon have the Senate on its back about inappropriate content in the video platform’s Kids app.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) addressed the Senate Wednesday about an ongoing problem: vulgar and dangerous content sneaking into YouTube Kids searches.

YouTube_KidsNelson said Google needs to try a little harder when filtering content for its app.

Using poster boards with YouTube screenshots, Nelson went through examples of inappropriate content found on YouTube Kids such as how to tie a noose, a video entitled ‘How to open a beer with another beer,’ nursery rhymes for babies containing vulgar language, clips on wine tasting and a how-to video on making sulfuric acid.

“Is that appropriate for young children?” Nelson asked the floor after revealing a clip on making toxic chlorine gas. “I don’t think so.”

“If we allow this kind of stuff to go on, then where are our common sense values?” he added.

Google this week announced changes to help better safeguard youngsters from unsuitable content such as prompting parents to choose if they wish to allow their children to do searches or turn the function off. YouTube has also created a message for parents explaining how videos are recommended and chosen for the app as well as how they can flag videos they feel are inappropriate.

Nelson, who had written to Google to express concerns about YouTube Kids, called these steps in the right direction, but said more must be done to safeguard children.

“It’s a good first step, but it is only that — a first step,” he said.

Nelson said Google has responded to some of his questions, such as what factors determine which content is suitable for children. Google’s response? An automated system and parental complaints. A question on the age range the app is expected to serve was not answered, however.

Nelson’s complete presentation can be seen below.

YouTube has been under fire for months since a number of advocacy groups discovered inappropriate videos — such as a clip with My Little Pony-themed pedophilia jokes, a clip discussing hard-core pornography and a Bert and Ernie video dubbed over with a foul-mouthed argument from mobster movie Casino — were popping up in search.

The groups sent a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission in April requesting an anti-trust investigation into Google’s advertising practices in connection with its YouTube Kids app. But the groups — Change.org, Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), Consumer Watchdog, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry — expanded the complaint in late May, asking the FTC to look into the inappropriate content as well.


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Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.

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