Washington (December 18, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) released the following statement today after YouTube announced that it will update its policies governing advertisements in kids’ videos on the website’s main video platform.  Senator Markey previously sent a letter to Google highlighting that many of the advertising policies that protect children on the YouTube Kids platform did not appear to apply to content that is directed to children on YouTube’s main platform. These rules prohibit videos from including product placement, influencer “unboxing” videos, and other types of commercial content that are inappropriate or harmful to children. In response to Senator Markey’s letter, YouTube announced that it will apply its content category restrictions from the YouTube Kids platform to all kids content on the main site. As such, advertisements that are violent, sexually explicit, related to food and beverages, or age-inappropriate in other ways will be prohibited in children’s videos on YouTube. YouTube also confirmed that it will prohibit targeted advertising in children’s content on YouTube.  


“I am pleased that YouTube has heeded my calls to update its advertising policies and enhance protections for the children who flock to this website. YouTube’s announcement that it will prohibit targeted, violent, unhealthy, and inappropriate advertising to kids on its main platform is a big win for the millions of families whose kids visit YouTube every day,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “Unfortunately, YouTube stopped short of instituting other important policy changes that would serve the interests of kids. I’m calling on YouTube to prohibit inherently manipulative marketing from online influencers who peddle products to kids in stealth advertisements that rack up millions of views from children.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s letter can be found HERE, and YouTube’s response can be found HERE.


Owned by Google, YouTube operates both the main YouTube platform and YouTube Kids. YouTube’s parental guide indicates that YouTube is not for children under the age of 13 and characterizes YouTube Kids as a destination for children ages 12 and under. However, vast numbers of child users watch videos on YouTube itself, and there is a wide range of child-focused content available for children on YouTube’s main platform.  


In June, Senator Markey wrote to the FTC expressing concern that YouTube has violated Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and urging the Commission to include a series of new privacy safeguards that YouTube should implement as part of any potential consent decree stemming from a Commission investigation into children’s privacy on YouTube.  


Senator Markey plans to introduce legislation to prohibit manipulative marketing to children online.