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YouTube Overhauls Children’s App After Complaints About Content

YouTube Overhauls Kids' App

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YouTube
YouTube bans dangerous, harmful pranks. Pixabay

YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows their children can watch.

The updates that begin rolling out April 26, 2018, are a response to complaints that the YouTube Kids app has repeatedly failed to filter out disturbing content.

Google-owned YouTube launched the toddler-oriented app in 2015. It has described it as a “safer” experience than the regular YouTube video-sharing service for finding “Peppa Pig” episodes or watching user-generated videos of people unboxing toys, teaching guitar lessons or experimenting with science.

Failure of screening system

In order to meet U.S. child privacy rules, Google says it bans kids under 13 from using its core video service. But its official terms of agreement are largely ignored by tens of millions of children and their families who don’t bother downloading the under-13 app.

Also Read: Facebook, YouTube dominate social media use in US

Both the grown-up video service and the YouTube Kids app have been criticized by child advocates for their commercialism and for the failures of a screening system that relies on artificial intelligence. The app is engineered to automatically exclude content that’s not appropriate for kids, and recommend videos based on what children have watched before. That hasn’t always worked to parents’ liking — especially when videos with profanity, violence or sexual themes slip through the filters.

Representational image for YouTube.
Representational image. Pixabay

Updates give parents option

The updates allow parents to switch off the automated system and choose a contained selection of children’s programming such as Sesame Street and PBS Kids. But the automated system remains the default.

“For parents who like the current version of YouTube Kids and want a wider selection of content, it’s still available,” said James Beser, the app’s product director, in a blog post Wednesday. “While no system is perfect, we continue to fine-tune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more-open version of our app.”

Beser also encouraged parents to block videos and flag them for review if they don’t think they should be on the app. But the practice of addressing problem videos after children have already been exposed to them has bothered child advocates who want the more controlled option to be the default.

Also Read: YouTube videos may not help toddlers learn new things

Cleaner, safer kids’ app

“Anything that gives parents the ability to select programming that has been vetted in some fashion by people is an improvement, but I also think not every parent is going to do this,” said Josh Golin, director of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Giving parents more control doesn’t absolve YouTube of the responsibility of keeping the bad content out of YouTube Kids.”

He said Google should aim to build an even cleaner and safer kids’ app, then pull all the kid-oriented content off the regular YouTube — where most kids are going — and onto that app.

Golin’s group recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether YouTube’s data collection and advertising practices violate federal child privacy rules. He said advocates plan to meet with FTC officials next week.  VOA

Next Story

T-Series May Soon Become No. 1 YouTube Channel

The T-Series YouTube channel began on March 13, 2006. It has 29 sub-channels and features songs and film trailers

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YouTube
YouTube. Pixabay

Indian film production house and music label T-Series needs slightly more than 800 subscribers to beat Swedish YouTuber PewDiePie’s channel and become the No 1 YouTube Channel.

Currently, T-series has over 90,337,357 subscribers while PewDiePie has subscribers with a count of 90,338, 188.

The battle between the two channels was going on for long. Even T-Series head honcho Bhushan Kumar started #BharatWins campaign on social media, urging people to help in making T-Series the world’s most subscribed YouTube channel.

YouTube, Google, google services
The YouTube Music app is displayed on a mobile phone in Los Angeles. VOA

“There is an Indian YouTube channel on the brink of becoming World’s No.1. It has taken us a lot of effort to come this far. To take my father Mr. Gulshan Kumar’s dream forward, I started this channel.

“Today, it belongs to you, to the entire nation. It’s a historic moment for all of us. So let’s come together and subscribe to T-Series YouTube channel and make India proud,” Bhushan tweeted earlier this month.

Also Read- HP Considering India as a Key Focus Area

Many Bollywood celebrities such as Salman Khan, Varun Dhawan, Arjun Kapoor and John Abraham joined the online battle between PewDiePie and YouTube, to plead with netizens to subscribe to T-Series’ channel on YouTube.

The T-Series YouTube channel began on March 13, 2006. It has 29 sub-channels and features songs and film trailers. (IANS)