Two child advocacy groups filed complaints with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) against advertising by 17 food and beverage manufacturers in the YouTube Kids app.
“Far from being a safe place for kids to explore, YouTube Kids is awash with food and beverage marketing that you won’t find on other media platforms for young children,” said Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s (CCFC) Josh Golin.
“The commission should investigate why Google’s algorithms aren’t configured to keep junk food marketing off of YouTube Kids, and hold food and beverage companies accountable for violating their pledges not to target their most unhealthy products to children,” he added.
The groups said the manufacturers are breaking pledges they have made as members of the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative.
For example, even though the Coca-Cola Company has pledged to not market any beverages to children under 12, the groups found 47 television commercials and 11 longer promotional videos for its products on YouTube Kids.
The groups want the FTC to investigate and take legal action against Google.
CCFC and the Center for Digital Democracy filed another complaint as a follow up to one placed in April against videos on YouTube Kids appearing “to result from relationships and payments between advertisers, YouTube creators, and various intermediaries, including multichannel video programmers and advertising agencies that specialise in ‘influencer’ marketing”.
At the time, a Google spokesperson said the company “strongly disagrees with the contentions” of the group, adding that “we worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups when developing YouTube Kids”.
CCFC and CDD now want FTC to investigate the connections between Google and its YouTube commercial partners and affiliates.