Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Google And YouTube Bulk Up Protection For Users Under 18, Responding To Longstanding Criticism

Google and its YouTube subsidiary are implementing steps to make their vast digital arenas safer for users under 18 years old.

Google said it will now block ad targeting based on the age, gender or interests of people under 18. It is also turning off its data-tracking “location history” option for users under the age of 18 anywhere in the world and add filters promoting safe searching for all minors.

YouTube said in the coming weeks it will change the default upload setting to private for 13-to-17-year-olds. That means videos will be viewable only by the user and people they authorize.

The moves come after years of criticism from government officials, parents and advocacy groups.

On YouTube, teen-aged users would still opt to make their content public. In a blog post, YouTube’s James Beser, director of kids and family product management, said the aim of the new setup is give teens “the options and safeguards to create the experience that’s right for them.”

YouTube will also remove “overly commercial content” from its YouTube Kids app, “such as a video that only focuses on product packaging or directly encourages children to spend money,” Beser added.

In addition to the ad-targeting changes, Google also said it will let users under 18 and their parents or guardians ask for the company to remove minors’ images from Google Image search results.

YouTube is also aiming to promote “digital well-being” with several new measures. “We want to give younger users the tools they need to understand their use of technology,” Beser wrote. “In addition to our suite of digital well-being tools, we’ll be turning take a break and bedtime reminders on by default for all users ages 13 to 17 on YouTube.” The video platform will also deactivate the “auto-play” feature, which feeds video after video to viewers under 18.


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