Google Reportedly Plans New Protections for YouTube Kids -- 
Let's Get Them Right!

Reports are circulating that Google plans to implement some important
new protections for their YouTube Kids offering, in particular
providing a means for parents to ensure that their children only see
videos that have been human-curated and/or are from appropriately
trusted YouTube channels.

The goal would be to avoid children being exposed to the kinds of sick
garbage that currently still manages to seep into YouTube Kids
recommendation engine suggested videos.

I have been calling for exactly this kind of approach for YouTube
Kids, and I applaud such efforts by the YouTube team.

However, if some details of these reports are accurate, there are a
couple of important provisos that I must mention.

First, the "curated/trusted" YouTube Kids video mode will supposedly
be an opt-in feature -- needing to be explicitly enabled (e.g., by

By default, children would reportedly continue to see the algorithmic
recommendations complete with the creepy contamination.

Since we're dealing with kids viewing videos, not adults, this new
human-curated mode should absolutely be the default, which could
optionally be disabled by parents if they really wanted their children
to see the full algorithmic flow.

The calculus when determining appropriate defaults is entirely
different for children, and depending on busy parents to pay attention
to these kinds of settings is problematic at best, so this is a
situation where the most ethical and responsible action on Google's
part would be for the "safest" settings to prevail as defaults.

Secondly, it's crucial in the long run that the same YouTube Kids
features and content options are ultimately available not only as
mobile apps but on ordinary browser platforms as well.  Most children
don't limit their video viewing only to phones!

All that said, if Google is indeed moving ahead toward human-curated
and approved YouTube Kids video suggestions, this is a notably
positive step, and would be an important acknowledgment by Google that
in some cases, algorithms alone are insufficient to adequately deal
with our complex online content ecosystems.

Lauren Weinstein ( 
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