Consumer groups call YouTube Kids app ‘deceptive,’ ask for FTC investigation

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Google introduced a new you-tube app in February – that’s aimed at kids, but it’s now being criticized for its ads.

Some consumer activists are calling it “unfair”’ and “deceptive,” and they claim that the app is filled with ads and product placements. On Tuesday, the group sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking them to subject the app to the same rules as television.

The letter reportedly claims that videos mingle commercial and entertainment content in ways that wouldn’t be allowed on television. Search for “My Little Pony,” for example, and the first several options are lengthy advertisements for My Little Pony Play-Doh and toy kitchen sets, including one Play-Doh segment stretching 19 minutes.

The app is restricted to family-focused content, but critics say it’s hard to tell the difference between entertainment and commercials.

“As a consumer, you should have the right to know who is trying to persuade you,” said Angela Campbell with the Institute for Public Representation at Georgetown Law, who provided legal counsel to the coalition.

In young children especially, “it takes unfair advantage of their trusting nature and lack of experience,” she added.

YouTube released a statement saying that the consumer activist group has not reached out to the company and the company worked with several groups in developing the app.

“We worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups when developing YouTube Kids. While we are always open to feedback on ways to improve the app, we were not contacted directly by the signers of this letter and strongly disagree with their contentions,” a Youtube spokeswoman told Reuters.

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