Platforms Taking Big Steps to Protect Youth Online

With both federal and provincial policy makers demanding increased youth privacy protection, it should be no surprise that pre-emptive changes are being made by the world’s largest platforms ahead of legislative amendments. There have been some bold steps taken by several of the tech giants that will not only serve to better protect our young, but they will also simplify and possibly solve the dilemma of age-gating – something that marketers are struggling to get right.

On Tuesday Google announced that it will be blocking ad targeting based on the age, gender or interests of people under the age of 18. Stating that they will be turning off the “location history” feature, which tracks location data, for users under 18 globally. They will also further expand the types of age-sensitive ad categories that are blocked for users up to 18 and will turn on safe searching filters for users up to that age. In addition, the tech giant will be introducing a new policy for minors and their parents/guardians to request the removal of the young person’s images from Google Image search result.

Google isn’t the only one taking a stance as we have seen other platforms, such as Facebook, make similar changes with the launch of their kids’ version of Instagram. YouTube also chimed in saying that in the coming weeks they would be changing the default upload setting to its most private option for teens aged 13-17 where content is seen only by the user and their selected friends. YouTube will also remove “overly commercial content” from its YouTube Kids app, “such as a video that only focuses on product packaging or directly encourages children to spend money,” said the site’s kids and family product management director, James Beser. 

Looking ahead, we anticipate children’s content to become increasingly defined and protected and also believe that these collective changes will give marketers some added confidence in knowing who they are reaching. Keeping our feet planted on the right side of the law when promoting products not meant for minors is a win for everyone involved.