Google's YouTube Kids app is far from being the sedate and innocent babysitter Google would have us believe, with US campaigners suggesting the way it blends editorial content with advertorial misleads children for the benefit of the world's super-rich brand behemoths.
According to a complaint lodged with the FTC, Google's child friendly app is guilty of breaking US laws that require broadcasters to firmly differentiate between general content and paid advertorial material, with some of the branded channels inside the app offering videos that feature the same characters as ads -- clearly and deliberately trying to get kids to click on marketing fluff for the likes of McDonald's so Google can whack off an enormous invoice for organic page views at the end of the month.
A letter sent to the FTC and signed by such welfare groups as the Center for Digital Democracy and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reads: "The videos provided to children on YouTube Kids intermix commercial and other content in ways that are deceptive and unfair to children and would not be permitted to be shown on broadcast or cable television."
The full letter also touches on one of YouTube's biggest problems -- unannounced paid commentary. It continues: "Many of the video segments endorsing toys, candy and other products that appear to be 'user generated' have undisclosed relationships with product manufacturers in violation of the FTC's guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising." [Reuters]