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Kidfluencers' Rampant YouTube Marketing Creates Minefield for Google (bloomberg.com)
128 points by pseudolus 29 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 115 comments

I used to use YouTube Kids for a bit with my kids. I always kept an eye on what they chose, but I'd let them choose (even if just to see how it would play out). After a while I watched my kids choose merch focused videos and a lot of very low quality sort of inane stuff that shows up on there. I'd block them but the app really doesn't let you block them, there are always more.

You also can't just white list things in the Youtube Kids app. There's straight up no option to be able to affirmatively choose what your kids get to pick from.

So now YouTube is just straight forbidden unless I'm picking the videos and that effectively means my kids don't see it at all outside of when I have a fun video to share... and even then I'm wary of what YouTube might suggest what to watch next...

With YouTube it feels like no matter what you do you're in a very sketchy neighborhood where there might be a good house here, but maybe some hell hole next door that Youtube is more than happy to send you to... It occurs to me that while I loved the promise of an internet that offered all aspects of humanity, on a site to site basis, I don't think I want that, even for just me.

So now we're back to the PBS Kids Videos app as the only route my kids get to independently pick what they watch. I'm pretty much done with YouTube for now as far as my kids go just due to the rabbit holes of terrible things on there, and the one time they take a shot at kid friendly stuff, it's really doesn't empower me as a parent.

I'm really enjoying Odd Squad.

> You also can't just white list things in the Youtube Kids app. There's straight up no option to be able to affirmatively choose what your kids get to pick from.

I "whitelist" YouTube for my kids by using youtube-dl to scrape the few good channels for them (Lah Lah, Peppa Pig, etc). I pay for YouTube Premium already, and I only scrape from official channels, so I'm not pirating anything but rather directly accessing channels I paid to view, without having to go through YouTube's horrible interface which constantly (and purposely) pushes crap into my kids view that I never asked for.

Other than that, my kids aren't allowed on YouTube. They can watch scraped videos from our NAS or ABC Kids (Australian Gov-Curated kids TV).

Sounds like that could easily be a Chrome extension, though?

Say, a whitelist for Youtube. In instances where Youtube recommendations fail, they'll just see a black thumbnail/ no text, and won't click it. If they do, can just block the playing of the video too. It will teach them skills with finding what they want online, etc, while you're at it.

I'm guessing this is modern ABC Kids too, because a decade or so ago, ABC Kids had some oddly dark stuff that's stuck with me for a while now...

Your way's probably sleeker, especially if it's hooked up to a NAS + XBMC or something of that sort, though :)

My kids are only toddlers so not sure what ABC Kids was like before, but at least for the last 5 years it's been incredible. Play School, Peppa Pig, Wiggles, Daniel Tiger, Lah Lah, basically nothing but educational shows or clean entertainment (apparently vetted by educators? I can't confirm that though, just something I read somewhere).

We're pretty strict about screen-based entertainment never being wasted time and always having some practical benefit, and ABC Kids has been great.

For our YouTube stuff I simply have a youtube-dl bash script I pass a URL or playlist too and it scrapes it at highest quality MP4 then copies it to the /Kids/YouTube/ folder on the NAS, which the TV can natively play from. I'm working on a web app running local-only so we can do it from our phones too.

Is this a common thing or parents just usually give free access to youtube?

It is uncommon for people to download YouTube content. A home server is also right out.

Whenever I see people recommending peppa pig to other people as "good material for kids" I am reminded of the at this point disturbingly many diatribes I've read and seen of people trying to educate others about its fundamentally sexist rhetoric. Is that something that has ceased to be the case? Is it perhaps something you don't notice/mind? Is it something you see differently?

How about when my kids and I are watching low quality nursery rhymes sung in an Eastern European accent, then I see ads for horror movies, isn't that just great?

> So now YouTube is just straight forbidden unless I'm picking the videos and that effectively means my kids don't see it at all outside of when I have a fun video to share... and even then I'm wary of what YouTube might suggest what to watch next...


That's just a more efficient method for retrieving the videos after already picking them.

You can navigate youtube to find what you're looking for with most of the javascript disabled. It renders a lot of what makes youtube awful mostly ineffective.

I've come to mostly search youtube explicitly for things or visit bookmarks of channels I enjoy, with most of the javascript turned off. When something looks interesting, it goes to youtube-dl and I close the tab to watch the video effectively offline.

This can't work forever as it effectively removes all the advertising, at some point they're going to start injecting the ads and suggestions directly into the video stream so even tools like youtube-dl consume the garbage.

But it's a marked improvement over using youtube as Alphabet intends, for now.

I think the point is that you don't have to worry about what Youtube might suggest.

If you use Firefox and uBlock Origin, you can hide the suggestions on YouTube:


I also blocked YT Kids from our house. I also would prefer it if it could whitelist only selected videos (they only really like certain topics).

I am fine with Netflix as a reasonably decent filter as well.

There have to be other options...

I built a suite for self hosting videos on a RasPi or AWS, as CDN friendly static html and segmented video chunk files played back via VideoJS. It has scripts for vloggers to import their videos/playlists/channel. You might explore building a little app with a YouTube importing queue. For fair use and archival purposes only, naturally. It’s missing docs due to lack of outside interest, but I’ve been vlogging with it for a year and it’s solid and it’s basically simple bash scripts and docker images. Search engine: “ispooge live”

ispooge? Did you know "spooge" is UK slang for "cum [all over the place]".

It means the same in the US. It must be an intentional choice. It is surprising to me that when choosing a name for a project a person wouldn’t google it first to see if the name is already in use at least.

It seems like a third party site/app for recommending youtube videos would be appropriate but I also suspect that might hit youtube's terms of use. If not, seems like an opportunity, if so, the ball's in Google's court.

I'm curious: as a parent who is wary of what YouTube would suggest next, do you have any intuitions of what a better recommendation algorithm would be?

I've been wondering about this for a while but I don't have any great ideas.

I have no idea how the existing recommendation algorithms work.

But as a parent without white listing ... not sure I trust them.

As far as google goes they were founded based on search, and search doesn't ask you what you want. Google doesn't ask me what ads I want, they don't ask me what news I want. In fact when they let me say "no news from this source" or "i'm not interested in this topic".... they still just sent me that news anyway, even over things I said I wanted to see.

It seems clear at this point that AI, or whatever overly complected Python script everyone uses will be pointed AT US, not for us.

There used to be aggregators around but they’ve all seemed to have disappeared now. Anyone know more about that?

YouTube doesn't allow aggregator sites. You can embed a video in a blog post or page but you aren't allowed to provide an alternate method of "browsing" YouTube.

Pure curiosity: have they tested that in court, or do they tie it to an API EULA or something?

I thought one of the big takeaways of the recent LinkedIn court case was, "if you're making it publicly available online, you can't use the law to distinguish between scrapers and regular people." And it doesn't seem like an aggregator would be breaking any copyright laws just by linking to content.

Let's be clear about all this, and where the problem arises from.

Use case #1. If Youtube only allowed people to upload videos (whether for a fee, or no charge) and share them with people they know, there would be no issue. You send videos to your friends.

Use case #2. If Youtube allowed advertisers to create videos and share those links via channels they control or purchase (e.g. paying a fee per view), there would be no issue. Companies you know market to you by video.

The self-created problem that Youtube has is that it wants to make money by charging for showing category #2 to those in category #1 who didn't ask for it.

Youtube / Google could choose not to have this problem tomorrow by not selling ads, recommending random videos to people, etc.

It's their obligation to figure out this problem, and totally up to them how to solve it. It's not some social or government problem to fix.

whoa, what? I feel like most of the value in Youtube is watching videos made by specialized content creators. Some of those creators may create content as an act of passion in their spare time, but some of them want to make money in some way. Youtube is willing to pay them money so that they're incentivized to make content. In order to cover those payouts and also cover hosting costs, they show ads. They could not pay out to content creators, but then creators would probably produce less content. They could also charge a direct fee for viewing content, but that severely limits the audience reach for most of the site. How many people would choose to watch youtube videos on a pay as you go model? An order of magnitude less? Probably more. I think advertising is a pretty elegant model for something like Youtube because it manages to make a lot of people happy: content creators get paid to do something really cool, viewers get a constant stream of new stuff to watch for 'free,' Google makes a lot of money, and advertisers get to reach an audience that in the best case may be specially interested in their products.

I think the problem with Youtube right now is their inability to respond nimbly to unwanted trends. As a human society, we've decided some things are so bad we're willing to ban their production and trade (human slavery, weapons of mass destruction). Some things are pretty much harmless (shoes, pizza). Lots of stuff falls in the middle (payday lending, pyramid schemes). Humans are exceptionally good are creating new stuff on each part of the spectrum, but Youtube seems to not be able to get a grip on the stuff near the bad end.

The point is that Youtube wants to make a profit off all this, and with profit comes responsibility to follow broadcasting laws.

OP isn't saying that Youtube shouldn't exist, but that they chose to exist with that business model and so they need to solve the problems that come with it.

Nailed it.

Leaving YouTube out of it, if you become extremely popular doing a thing and you have a million or ten millions sets of eyeballs tuning in to watch you do that thing, you will become an advertiser (unless you somehow think it's immoral).

That's how consumer-based economies work. We don't buy things just because we need them or ask for them. Therefore, we are advertised to.

If you don't monetise it then someone else will, and presumably Google will prefer them (in listings, etc.) because they're playing the game and giving advertiser's an opportunity to spend [more] on the platform.

The actual root cause is extremely intractable for these companies to solve because it inherently conflicts with their business model. The business model requires highly paid software engineers to create a platform that matches buyers and sellers (or viewers and advertisers) but none of the associated costs with policing anything that happens on the platform that can't be done with technical means. As soon as they have to police anything (by preapproval or moderators taking things down after the fact) it massively cuts the margins of the business.

Section 230 enabled lots of internet businesses, but it also created lots of negative externalities that are only now being reckoned with after decades of a free-for-all.

It's only intractable if you're addicated to Nazi gold, as it were.

Social media companies can and do solve this problem for countries like Germany (set your Twitter location to Germany, watch how many people disappear from it). They choose not to elsewhere.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it anyway. It’s just that they won’t do it on their own unless governments force them to.

There’s no human right that says these businesses have to exist and/or be as profitable as they are. Societies can and should decide that.

It might be their obligation from a moral standpoint, but it certainly isn’t from a legal point — at least, it isn’t right now. I think that’s where it becomes a governmental problem to fix, because these companies have indicated they are not willing to do so.

> governmental problem to fix

careful here. It might lead to requirement Google to require identification from users, KYC as in banking. That would be orwellian creepy.

And YT wants to do this by implementing rules that are easily bypassed and very, very difficult to enforce.

The Ricegum/Jake Paul gambling problem exists because there's just no easy way to determine and police the financial influence of a particular video. Not to mention the big money that YouTube makes by allowing covertly sponsored content by these huge YT stars to proliferate on the platform.

It's hard to see a world in which they get the incentives to generate content under control while driving the engagement and revenue they're making now.

> It's their obligation to figure out this problem

It's their business model, so, no chance

Problem: the entire value of Youtube derives from discovery; both to viewers and to uploaders. Viewers want to find more stuff to see (either horizontally or via search, the thing that made the Google fortune). And uploaders want to be seen. Especially if they get paid.

Of course, there are also people who want to get seen without necessarily getting paid for it. Advertisers and propagandists.

(This is why "freedom of reach" matters; you might argue that youtube shouldn't take down fascists and terror videos, but you can't argue that they're obliged to say it would be a good idea to watch them)

> Let's be clear about all this, and where the problem arises from.

Yes, let's. It arises from parents letting kids not only watch but outright discover content unsupervised.

If it weren't YouTube, it would be [insert name of threat to kids].

With both parents working, supervising kids is easier said than done – I'm not saying it's their fault for having to go to work to support their families, but the responsibility of policing their own kids is certainly theirs and nobody else's.

We're dealing with this right now.

Please, tell me how I can whitelist channels and/or individual videos on youtube for my kids. I'm not being sarcastic - I've done a lot of looking and can't seem to find out how.

There are settings for "keep it kid friendly" but that isn't enough. Some kid friendly videos are terrible for kids.

We've resorted to only letting the kids watch videos on a fire tablet, because we can control exactly what they can see on it.

If you really wanted it you could download the videos for the channels and host them locally.

Even then I wouldn't trust most channels; a channel could sell out and have elsa&spidey 'porn' on it tomorrow. As a parent I carefully curate YouTube and won't let the kids watch it on their own.

Netflix "kids" channel is quite good IMO, some of the content - like Story Bots - I really quite like. Could do with more shows with people in though, most of it's animation.

When I grew up I wasn't allowed to watch TV arbitrarily. I see no reason why I would allow my kids to watch Youtube regularly and without supervision.

Block YouTube and have them do something else instead. What did you do for fun as a kid?

well, yes and no; what are parents going to do? sit with the kid and watch the whole thing after they (parent) picked out the content?

i agree the parent should pick out the content, but the whole auto play at the end of a video situation makes it difficult: is make a good wager that (like when i was a kid) “TV time” is when the parents get things like laundry done, so they have to come back right at the end of a video to pick a new one. if it couldn’t play without the parents consent, the kid would at least yell out.

it’s not about parents being lazy (or hell even if it is, parents need a break too) it’s about creating a user experience that caters to the highly stressful life of being a parent. that’s what youtube kids should be!

The problem really is that a multi-billion dollar company decided to release an app targeting children (youtube kids) and through sheer negligence choose to allow access to the worst kind of content through said app. Google easily has the resources to release a responsible product, but simply chooses to deny responsibility for any negative side effects of their products.

I'm not saying we can't address that from a policy perspective, but as a parent you shouldn't wait until the government regulates everything your child comes in contact with – you need to be a bit more proactive than that.

OK, I agree with this, but Google could've easily curated the content to be kid-safe but instead relied on immature algorithms instead of hiring a few people to manage curation.

At some point you need to hold corporations responsible for their negligence.

> On TV, the ground rules are clearer: Ads come when the show takes a break.

Oh, you sweet summer child. TV and film would love you to believe that, but today product placement omnipresent. Michael Bay's Transformers movie is basically an ad for General Motors occasionally interrupted by robots. It's not enough to jam product placement into every inch of cinema being produced today. They now also go back retroactively insert product placement into older productions[1].

[1]: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/old-videos-new...

Some more blatant TV examples:

- Knight Rider 2008 was basically a long-form Ford commercial, featuring not just the Mustang, but a Mustang that could transform into... any other model of Ford automobile. Ford commercials also played during the break.

- The infamous attempt by Microsoft to get the phrase "Bing it" to catch on, by paying shows like Hawaii Five-0 to use it in dialog during the show.

- My personal favorite example was Chuck, which dodged cancellation once or twice specifically because of the extent of it's product placement partnership with Subway. It was so blatant that the showrunners made detailed descriptions of Subway sandwiches during the show literally a running gag.

For a movie, Michael Bay's "The Island":

> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeVQwomIgjs

A big reason I added television examples, specifically, is that the article was talking about television, not movies, and the supposed dividing line between commercial breaks and television shows themselves.

Your examples are great, thanks for adding them!

His Transformers movies also have a horrendous amount of product placement

Not just product placement, and not just "today" either. I can recall so many cartoons from my childhood in the 80's (He-Man and G.I. Joe come to mind) which were nothing but long-form promotional content aimed directly at kids.

I recently watched a couple of episodes of Street Sharks because I liked it growing up and wanted to have a bit of a nostalgia binge. The whole thing is an ad for the toys.

Basically if I can clearly see a real product's logo, even for a quick moment, it's 90% chance that it was paid product placement

Unless someone really screwed up, any logo you see is absolutely an advertisement (with the exception of live format stuff like the news). They have to get permission to use brands, just like clearance for songs.

Are you sure? What law would you breaking by having someone drink a specific brand of soda on screen in a short movie? Trademark? What if it's topical?

What if there is a scene that involves a car, such as driving a car? Should movies ideally "make" their own car, or is there a way to use an existing car without being accused of product placement?

Copyright violation for reproducing their logo without permission. One could probably make a case that it's fair use most of the time, but why go to the trouble when you can instead get them to pay you to have that logo on the screen?

There's also advertising overlays even when the show isn't on break, which I find especially terrible.

In my country (Norway) you're not allowed to target children with marketing.

Coca-cola has already had a smack on their fingers for using "influencers" whose primary audience are kids on their channel [1].

This might hit google directly if enough of this stuff happens. The end result I hope is that videos with kids are forced private so the parents can't use them as props to make money. It's not like the children have any say when their life is being spread out on the net.

The US which is the main base of google has unfortunately not ratified the convention on the rights of children [2] but in article 16 of this treaty [3] it is stated that children have a right to privacy.

[1] https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=no&tl=en&u=https%3...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Rights_of_th...

[3] https://treaties.un.org/doc/Treaties/1990/09/19900902%2003-1... page 37

> On TV, the ground rules are clearer: Ads come when the show takes a break.

Except this isn't true at all. For one, they run ads over the top of shows (which is super obnoxious), but at least they tend to be for other shows rather than products.

But even decades ago, shows like Transformers and Ninja Turtles were really just toy advertisements (literally, not being cynical). How do you distinguish that from this Youtube stuff?

The case of Transformers or Ninja Turtles isn't an issue because while the content is being essentially an advertisement, it's content people actually want to watch.

The same would apply to let's say a documentary about TV advertising. Sure, it's going to contain ads in it, but it's ads you actually want to watch because they're part of the content you wanted to watch - a documentary about TV ads.

Long before 80’s cartoons, back into the dawn of television it was usually a given brand overtly sponsoring a show. You’d get things like “The Brand D variety hour.”

Before that it was the same way in radio. I still have old recordings of The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and it would open with a guy from Petri Wine or Blue Coal “meeting” Dr. Watson. I can still remember their latter, “Petri took time to bring you good wine.” “Blue Coal, the finest anthracite money can buy.” They’d have an ad break midway and Watson would chat with the company man about the merits of the brand, and maybe exhort people to buy War or Victory Bonds.

This isn’t new, advertising has had its hand up our collective bungs for longer than any of us have been alive. We should fight it all the harder now that for the first time we can block their poison without blocking content.

> they run ads over the top of shows (which is super obnoxious)

Whose idea was this? When did it start? I've seen this mostly on American TV shows for the past few years. It completely breaks the immersion even on torrented content where the ads have been removed. (It's impossible to follow anything on regular TV with the multiple ads interruption.)

It started like a decade ago, I think? It's gotten a lot worse, though.

It's like they really really want you to only watch shows on Bluray or streaming.

You could probably argue that Star Wars franchise was/is a toy/merch advert along the lines of He-Man or TMNT.

Bear in mind that those cartoons were often created as an afterthought to toys which had already been designed or, in the case of Transformers and other transforming robot toys, repackaged from other toy lines (which is why one of the Transformers is a Veritech fighter from Macross, BTW.)

Star Wars, at least, began story first... and remained so until George Lucas realized just how much money could be made with merchandise and toys. Star Wars also predated all of the above cartoons so it didn't have that model to draw from initially.

It's assumed that large centralized platforms make the problem worse but I'm really not too sure.

When I first started using the internet, AIM was still all the rave. I'm not sure exactly how but I got into the habit of joining random chatrooms and messaging random people on AIM. As a minor I was under way more threat there than I think kidfluencers on YouTube are these days (..so many 'asl?' comments). The major difference was that advertisers were not on AIM.

Eventually I got deeper into the rabbit hole and started to see the underbelly of the internet, things were much more of a maze back then. Even today, knowing all I know about how to find the worst of the worst online -- I mainly stick to huge platforms, anecdotally it's a lot harder to get caught up in the maze online than it used to be. Maybe that's a good thing, everything is out in the open for these platforms to mitigate.

YouTube has a different maze, one that you only see if you start clicking on certain videos, and clicking on the suggested videos, and so on. It transforms itself into something darker, tailored specifically to you.

> It seems as if you are never “hard core” enough for YouTube’s recommendation algorithm. It promotes, recommends and disseminates videos in a manner that appears to constantly up the stakes. Given its billion or so users, YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.


I think the constant advertising is a different kind of threat than being stalked by a chatroom random on AIM, though. And I can't really say which is "worse". The advertizing is legitimized and normalized by the entire system, from the content creators that make videos that are nothing more than thinly veiled ads, to Google's inability/unwillingness to properly moderate content.

I just hope it doesn’t begin infantilizjnv everyone where everything must gravitate toward “Kawaii” and have big bugeyes and have high pitched voices.

As a parent who grew up with the internet (I'm 40), I am astonished that anyone allows their children to watch anything they want on YouTube. So much utter garbage.

I think the problem today moreso than 30 years ago is that the technology to view youtube videos is ubiquitous, cheap, and easy to conceal. Just the other day a coworker of mine was complaining that his child had snuck their ipod into their room and been watching youtube videos under the blankets late into the night.

We have a strict "no devices in bedrooms" for our kids (who are currently nine). YouTube's also blocked entirely via Disney's Circle on their devices; we permit strictly controlled usage on the family laptop if they have a specific need (an art tutorial, a Minecraft technique, etc.)

Back when they were little, YouTube was great; my daughter taught herself to finger-spell off videos, and I'd happily credit it for her precocious reading. The worst of the algorithmic BS back then was the busty "reply girls" on every popular video. It's a lot scarier now.

> We have a strict "no devices in bedrooms" for our kids (who are currently nine).

Have you considered maybe going "old school" with the devices? Like, get them an old home computer (Apple, C64, TRS-80, etc), with all the trimmings, and let them play with that?

Or get one of the "newer" retro computing platforms (which you may have to assemble yourself) - such as this one:


...and let them learn with that?

Even an Arduino or RasPi could work; basically, give them a platform where if they want to do anything - they have to learn to do it themselves.

Maybe that's just my nostalgia and naivete being channelled. I grew up in the 1980s with a home computer plugged into my TV in my bedroom (and later got a modem and phone). There was something special about it; I wish today's kids could experience the fun and sense of discovery that made it that way.

> Have you considered maybe going "old school" with the devices?

I have, but I've largely dismissed the idea.

When I tinkered with an Apple II, it was top of the line - Oregon Trail was amaaaaaazing. I didn't have stuff from three decades into the future to compare it to.

My kids know powerful, easy to use computing devices exist, so building an animation in Logo or something isn't compelling. They use their iPhones and Xbox daily to do cool, tinkery things - my son builds complex circuits in Minecraft, for example.

I experienced the "back in my day" thing with my dad a bit - he wanted me to learn to take apart engines, and it took a while for him to realize I was doing the same with code. I think a lot of folks are doing that now with the next generation and modern devices - missing the point. Chances are they're doing something creative with it, even if it's not the same creative thing we were.

Honestly kids could get most of that with a reasonably priced PC and no (or extremely limited) internet access.

My kids are still young (5, 6, 9), so I have yet to fight most of those battles. But I've already told them they can wait to have their own mobile devices until they turn 16... We'll see if I can hold out.

Take care that your kids don't lose learning how to use technology. I knew several parents growing up that were surprised a few of us were so good at computers. Experience builds quickly. Even just running a bbs or playing games on a bbs was enough to build decent exposure. And I'm sure there were terrible things there.

My 9-year old is learning to code with a Kano Harry Potter kit, and also learning tinkercad and 3D printing in her classroom! She doesn't need a smartphone/ipod/etc.

I do love those. They have YouTube, though. Don't they?

I've never once met someone who learned anything of value about technology by mindlessly tapping or swiping a smartphone or tablet display.

I have seen people crippled from lack of experience to all devices.

I agree just a smart phone is probably not worth a lot. Along with many devices, though, it can add up.

I don’t have kids, so take this with a grain of salt, but I’m in total agreement, so long as you provide them with relatively unfettered access to a real computer. They’re more likely to have an interest in the machine and computers in general without becoming addicted to low-quality content. I’ve really enjoyed re-reading this article and its comments, which debate a desktop vs an iPad: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4141993

I just gave my 7 year old daughter a Nokia 3110, it doesn't have much smart phone functionality.

She is not allowed to use it during school but it's in her bag for emergencies. I'm also a bit curious of how long it takes until she asks for a "better" phone but she also has a nintendo switch so the games part is covered there.

FYI switch has youtube now

Yes but it is age restricted and you can also blacklist individual apps in the parental control phone app.

She is also not using it without supervision, the same goes for her laptop. My wife or I sit next to her.

I can't shake the notion that these "Kidfluencers" are exploited by their parents and large companies in order to seduce other children (maybe this is obvious but I want to keep a seed of doubt in my mind that these kids actually enjoy making these videos, for fun). In my dream world, anyone in the business of "kidfluencing" would be completely de-monetized across every social media network, and all marketing directly to children would be strictly regulated.

Well, if YouTube did nothing when 2 (very big with kids) stars were promoting a shady gambling site to minors, I have little faith they'll do something until the EU hits them hard with a court appearance & yet another multi billion euro fine.


Kidfluencer is possibly the most repulsive portmanteau I've seen the media create so far

My 8 year old was really into Minecraft videos. I started noticing him watch videos of "mods" with gun-based first person shooter games, and "trolling" where they blow up each others' creations. He talked about "slenderman" and "fortnight" like he had seen/played them before.

When he started talking about what he saw in the videos as something he himself did, we decided to pull the plug. That was scary for me as a parent. Too much stimulation for a kid, and way too much exposure to things his brain isn't ready to handle.

Added this to my home PC's hosts file for now until I figure out a better solution. Facebook was just a "while I'm in there" addition in case he gets the urge to try it. www.youtube.com www.facebook.com

There are plenty of YouTube proxy sites, including Bing (I think).

As a parent of two kids I have strong feelings and opinions regarding this matter. To be fair, there are a few responsible content creators. Jangbricks is one good example and he’s well aware that his audience is largely made up of kids. But youtube is a place of unfiltered and unedited contents and thus is not an appropriate place for kids. I strongly advise parents to not expose children to youtube even if they’re supervised.

I was able to white list specific videos by embedding them in my own website. For this to work, you also have to turn off the play next auto suggest on the video.

This has been the only way I have found to limit viewing for kids to specific videos.

If google won't allow apps or web sites to offer a curated list of videos, I think it's time to get off YouTube and create a competing service. Perhaps, someone can create a Video Site just for kids.


Could you please not post unsubstantive comments like this to Hacker News? We're trying for better than that here. And fortunately, most of your comments are much better.


Okay, this has nothing to do with the article. This is meta discussion.

Can we please have comments more substantiated than "Ban them all"? I remember when HN actually had interesting discussion, and wasn't just a peanut gallery. Comments like these are incredibly uninteresting, and only contribute to HN's increasing reputation as a reddit-esque echo chamber.

@dang I'm hoping you can weigh in here, I'd really like to know what the mod team thinks about these kinds of comments (if they're worthwhile to have on the site), and I'm sure you're a more authoritative source on if they're becoming more common or not.

That's easy: comments like break the site guidelines and are bad for HN.

I don't want to pick on floren personally, though. That account has a fine posting history and seems as concerned about comment quality as you are (e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19039487). The problem is rather that most bad-for-HN comments are unintentional, at least once you scrape out the bottom of the barrel.

As for HN's reputation vis-à-vis Reddit, I think that's been pretty stable for years now.

You happened to catch that comment 3 minutes after it was posted. When I came to this thread not 15 minutes later, the comment was already flagged so much it got collapsed. There is no cause for alarm or doomsaying.

Comments don't get collapsed when they are flagged, they are collapsed by moderators manually.

Either way, the system clearly works.

It was flagged because I pointed it was useless.

I can't make a comment asking every single fluff comment to please elaborate a bit more just so people go "oh, huh, yeah this shouldn't be here". And you can't deny that in the last N years, HN has become more and more happy to upvote fluff.

I can indeed deny it. I think you are also giving yourself too much credit. I would be very surprised to see a comment like that one not at least colored grey, even without your heroic involvement.

You can deny it, but you'd very well be wrong. You've been a user since 2017, so I understand if you're not familiar with what the discussion looked like circa 2014 or so, but it used to be much less tolerant to the low-quality comments that get posted nowadays.

This user is from 2017. I've read Hacker News for a long time. I think you need to get over yourself a bit.

Downvoting works, and it takes very little time.

Neat but I read the site literally every day and have posted for years and don’t have the ability to downvote. Perhaps I’m on a blacklist of ex-slashdotters.

There’s a karma requirement. If I recall correctly I gained the downvote when I passed 500, but I could be wrong of course. My impression of this site is that they don’t do blacklists, they’d probably warn you straight up if they had a problem.

I am still working on my philosophy around this but

1. The idea of a split between platform provider (ie hosting) and doscovery (ie promotion) is an important one

2. Google's PageRank assigns "juice" to a trusted domain - but youtube and facebook break that concept and so google (or all search engines) need to have clearer ways to define "publisher responsible for content that gets some recommendation juice"

2.a. By splitting the hosting and recommendation we can start to see different curation approaches - this dark maze of youtube recommendations (all I get is more Marvel) could be repacked with different curation algorithms - and the more data different AI has to share the clearer the dark / light patches can be seen by researchers.

3. Paid ad disclosure is a simple one to solve - we do it on TV all the time. Quirky home videos are great - but once you have ten million followers you are a business and can afford the regulation

4. Yes paedophiles do spend a lot of time watching kids videos online. We can use unusual watch time patterns to spot this, and that's good - but really paedophilia has been a problem for 10,000 years and we as society need to find wider bigger ways to tackle this - along with medicine this will be a huge win for social ROI

5. In short regulation is coming to all these platforms - but agreeing international rules for same platforms is going to involve amazing new levels of international co-operation and questions of sovereignty- let's try not to Brexit the lot up.

> 4. Yes paedophiles do spend a lot of time watching kids videos online. We can use unusual watch time patterns to spot this, and that's good - but really paedophilia has been a problem for 10,000 years and we as society need to find wider bigger ways to tackle this - along with medicine this will be a huge win for social ROI

What is the law that is being broken here? Why is it a problem that someone (pedophile or not) is watching a lot of legal content (that happens to feature kids)?

What in the quoted sentence claims a law is being broken?

It doesn't. And GP is pretty obviously asking why we should punish pedophiles for watching kids videos on YT.

Actually I am quite happy for paedophilia to be punished (or rather child abuse / rape in case there is some distinction between fantasy and acting upon it)

but the main point I am making is that these platforms all have significant pressure to "tackle paedophilia" - and while they do offer a novel approach (there was a reference recently in wired showing tracking the time spent watching family videos by people wildly outside of the family network (ie usually a video of a kid dancing in a tutu is seen by 30/50 people. When views hit 10,000 there is something to investigate)

But in the end "tackling paedophilia" is not something we can offload to the AI in youtube - it's a massive social cost and so a massive social investment.

> 2. Google's PageRank assigns "juice" to a trusted domain

I am unreasonably disappointed about not seeing actual infancy metaphors in your comment.

I don't understand your comment - who is being infantile?

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