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Watchdog says YouTube improperly targets ads on children’s videos

after a research report After finding last week that YouTube’s advertising practices have the potential to undermine the privacy of children watching children’s videos, the company said it has limited its collection of viewer data and not served targeted ads to such videos .

This type of personalized advertising, which uses data to tailor marketing to users’ online activities and interests, can be effective in finding the right consumers. However, under a federal privacy law, children’s online services must obtain parental consent before collecting personal information from users under 13 to target them with ads – a commitment YouTube has made. Magnified for anyone watching baby videos.

Now a leading group of children is challenging the Fairplay company’s privacy statements. The group said it used ad placement tools from YouTube’s parent company, Google, to run a $10 ad campaign this month specifically targeted at various groups of adults on children’s video channels.

The ads were shown to users from consumer segments selected by a group of children – including motorcycle enthusiasts, high-end computer buffs and avid investors – on popular channels”Cocomelon Nursery Rhymes,” “Talking Tom” and “like nastya,” according to a placement report Fairplay received from Google. In total, the group’s ads were placed 1,446 times on YouTube children’s video channels.

Adalytics, the publishing company Research It was first reported by The New York Times last week, which said Similar ad campaigns analyzed on children’s channels from several other media buyers.

On Wednesday morning, Fairplay, the Center for Digital Democracy and two other nonprofit groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, asking the agency to investigate Google and YouTube’s data and advertising practices on videos made for children Went.

In a letter to FTC Chair Leena M. Khan, the groups said the new research “raises serious questions” about whether Google violated federal children’s privacy regulations.

Michael Aciman, a Google spokesman, said: “The findings in this report point to a fundamental misunderstanding of how advertising works for content made to children. We do not allow ad personalization on content directed at children, and we do not allow advertisers to target children with ads in any of our products.

Google said it would continue to comply with the child privacy commitments it made to the FTC. It added that some YouTube channels offer a mix of videos for children and adults and, as a result, it is possible that Fairplay received audience segmentation reports for the ads it displayed. On videos that weren’t made for kids.

This isn’t the first time that Fairplay and the Center for Digital Democracy have pressed the FTC to investigate Google and YouTube over children’s privacy. In a complaint to the agency in 2018, the two organizations, along with 21 other groups, accused the company of improperly collecting data from children watching videos of children.

In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission and New York State found that the company had illegally collected personal information from children watching children’s channels. regulators said the company had Benefits of using children’s data Targeting them with ads.

Google and YouTube agreed to pay a record $170 million to settle the charges from regulators.

“There are very few legal protections for children online,” said Josh Golin, executive director of FairPlay. “One of the few obligations that platforms like YouTube have is not to use children’s personal information to track them or show them personalized ads.”

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