If you create content on YouTube, you’ve probably heard a little about the new COPPA rules going into effect in January 2020. The rules are because of new regulations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and directly relates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The new COPPA regulations come after YouTube settled with the FTC and the state of New York for $136 million and $34 million. YouTube was accused of illegally collecting personal information with parental consent. This settlement is the largest in COPPA’s history.
To comply with the COPPA regulations, YouTube will no longer deliver personalized ads on content that is directed at children. This doesn’t mean that children will no longer see advertising. Kids can still see ads, but they won’t be targeted, personalized ads. The goal is to protect children’s online privacy.
Creators who do focus on content meant for children will likely see their ad revenue drop dramatically. Once a video or channel is designated as for children, the channel no longer shows up in a Google search, comments and channel branding watermarks are disabled and the watch later and save to playlist buttons are no longer available.
The issue many YouTube content creators have is that YouTube, not the creator, determines what content is made for children. Creators can flag whether their videos are designed for children, but YouTube will also make this determination on its own through machine learning. If YouTube does identify a video as something for children, at this time, there’s no way to appeal the decision to YouTube.
If content marketed to adults gets notated as for children, the creator can be fined up to $42,000 per video. While it’s unlikely that the FTC would leverage such a large fine on a smaller content creator, the potential is there.
There’s no doubt that YouTube’s response to COPPA will continue to evolve. For now, if you are creating videos meant for adults, make this clear. Consider adding a small disclaimer before the video begins and add it to your video’s description. Take care to avoid any music or characters that might appeal to children and watch what other content creators are doing to take cues from them. If you’re worried about your content and its appeal to children, consulting a lawyer is probably a good idea.