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If you have videos posted on YouTube you need to know about changes in the platform that could subject you to FTC fines.

Note: As of now we believe this applies to ANYONE who has posted videos on YouTube.

If you have not properly marked your YouTube videos as either content made for kids (under the age of 13) or not made for kids, you could be subject to FTC fines starting January 2020.

If you mark your videos incorrectly you will possibly also be subject to FTC fines. You should affirmatively mark and classify any videos posted on YouTube before January 2020 as either made for kids or not made for kids. We highly suggest reading below to understand how to mark your videos properly and the consequences of marking them one way or the other.

What does it mean to be “made for kids”?

The FTC criteria are not about the poster’s intent. In other words, it doesn’t matter whether or not you meant to create video content for kids.

What matters is if the FTC would consider the video appealing to kids.

The bad news is that in order to determine this they have a very vague multi-factor test, including things like bright colors and easy to follow language, which could potentially apply to most video content. Regulators at the FTC will apparently be monitoring and scanning YouTube for videos they believe kids would find appealing.

These regulators will be human beings but are unlikely to be familiar with pop culture. Listed below are the factors that will be considered (remember just meeting a few of the factors could mean the video is deemed to be made for kids):

  1. The subject matter of the video (e.g. educational content).
  2. Whether children are your intended or actual audience for the video.
  3. Whether the video includes child actors or models.
  4. Whether the video includes characters, celebrities, or toys that appeal to children, including animated characters or cartoon figures.
  5. Whether the language of the video is intended for children to understand.
  6. Whether the video includes activities that appeal to children, such as play-acting, simple songs or games, or early education.
  7. Whether the video includes songs, stories, or poems for children.
  8. Any other information you may have to help determine your video’s audience, like empirical evidence of the video’s audience.
TIPS: Don’t panic. Be honest because if you mark your video incorrectly, you may be fined. Comply by marking your videos appropriately. You can do this by marking individual videos or marking your entire Channel. You know if your videos are made for kids under 13 or not. If in doubt, YouTube suggests consulting an attorney.

Consequences of marking “made for kids”.

If your videos and content are marked “made for kids,” you will probably see a sharp decline in revenue and viewership because the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits data collection from minors under the age of 13. YouTube just settled a large lawsuit with the FTC, they will be removing key features for content marked as “made for kids.

  • You will no longer be able to have targeted ads.
  • Your videos will no longer have the option to save and watch later.
  • Viewers and followers will not be alerted if you post a new video.

For example, your content will likely be classified as made for kids if you are a YouTube content creator with either:

  1. content targeted at younger viewers or
  2. if your followers are under the age of 13.

Consequences of marking “NOT made for kids”.

If your videos meet the above criteria and you don’t mark it as such, and the FTC determines you were dishonest, they may impose hefty fines.

What next?

Until the regulation goes into effect and the FTC starts imposing fines it will be difficult to know how broadly or narrowly these new rules will be enforced.

These new rules may change the YouTube platform as we know it or it may end up being not as significant as everyone thinks. If in doubt, you can always pull your content off the platform.

YouTube itself is not going to be making determinations as to whether content appears to be Made For Kids or not. They suggest you consult an attorney.

The Official YouTube Guideline Video