Washington : In a complaint filed to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumer watchdog groups have accused Google of blurring the difference between ads and original content in its YouTube Kids app. The complaint alleged that the videos on the app mixed “commercial and other content in ways that are deceptive and unfair to children.” It said that the app featured videos from individuals with undisclosed links to products they are endorsing, The Verge reported.
The complaint has been filed by Georgetown Law’s Institute for Public Representation and signed by groups such as, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Consumers Union, Children Now, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The document also noted that the videos and ads on the app were played in a continuous stream, in opposition to the TV rules that require a five-second “break” between ads and shows.
In its guidelines for the app, while Google itself prohibited ads “related to consumable food and drinks,” the app hosted a channel created by McDonald’s to explain the origin of its chicken nuggets, beef burgers, and other fast food items, the complaint noted. The groups argued that Google took advantage of children as they don’t understand the entire channel was actually advertising.
Meanwhile, YouTube said in a statement that although it had consulted numerous children advocacy and privacy groups while developing the YouTube Kids app but feedback on ways to improve the app would be welcomed.