The service also distributes what it calls "user-generated" segments that feature toys, candy and other products without disclosing that the producers of the videos have business relationships with the companies selling those products, the complaint said. That failure to disclose the business relationships likely violates the FTC's endorsement guidelines, which require product reviewers to disclose business relationships with companies, the groups said.
The complaint goes beyond YouTube Kids intermingling advertising with other content, said Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "It's also that they are marketing their app as being a safe haven for children when, in fact, from a commercialism standpoint, it's far worse than other platforms for kids," he said by email.
YouTube Kids should be redesigned, added Jeffrey Chester, executive director at the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy group that has criticized other Google practices.
"They are focused on transforming kids' clicks and eyeballs into much needed profits -- so much so they lost sense of their corporate responsibility to young people and their families," he said by email. "The app needs to be redesigned to act as a age-appropriate channel for young children -- not as just another Google ad-supported product application."
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