Sep 22, 2020 - Economy

YouTube will use tech updates to better enforce age restrictions

Illustration of a toddler's face with rotating YouTube "play" buttons for eyes

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

YouTube said Tuesday that it has updated its technology to enable the tech giant to better enforce its age restriction policies.

Why it matters: The company has been criticized and penalized for its policies and architecture that displayed harmful content to kids and violated children's data privacy.

The company is announcing three new changes:

  1. It will begin using machine learning to automatically apply age restrictions to content on its platform around the world.
  2. It's using technology to identify age-restrictive content so that when viewers discover age-restricted videos embedded on most third-party websites, they will now be required to log in to watch those videos in order to verify their age.
  3. It will start to request that some users in Europe verify their age with a valid ID or credit card, in response to new EU regulations, like the Audiovisual Media Services Directive.

The big picture: The company has long had age restrictions for content, but critics have argued that its enforcement mechanisms haven't always been strong enough to protect kids.

  • The company launched a standalone YouTube Kids app for users under the age of 13 last year, but many underage children still access YouTube through its main app.
  • Its parent company Google was forced to pay $170 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission complaint last year that alleged YouTube illegally collected children's personal information.

Go deeper: YouTube's kid problem is more than child's play

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