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Courtesy Provost Park Pass

YouTube changes to protect children could hurt creators, viewers

By Mike Anderson, KSL TV | Posted - Dec 3rd, 2019 @ 7:26am


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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah-based Disney vloggers Chris and Amanda Provost started their YouTube channel nearly two years ago as a simple passion-project.

Now, changes being made to YouTube as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission has many content creators, like the Provosts, worried about the future of their channels.

“We both are Disney fanatics, and we thought this would be so fun to do,” Chris Provost said. “We feel very fortunate. I think we found a niche market that people really enjoy, and they like our content.”

Their channel, Provost Park Pass, gives viewers a look at some of the lesser-known history and secrets about Disneyland. The couple had just announced that they were going full-time as YouTubers and would be taking a tour to every Disney park around the world when they got word of some major changes to the video social-media site.

“It was mind-blowing for us,” Chris said. “We want to keep doing this full-time, but it’s something that makes us nervous. We’ll have to see what happens in the future.”

YouTube got into trouble with the Federal Trade Commission for tracking what children watch. Additionally, several videos that purported to be made for children slipped under the website’s radar and actually contained explicit material. YouTube and Google settled with the FTC for $170 million while agreeing to make changes to better protect children and better follow the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

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Content creators are now being asked to label their channels and each video as either “made for kids” or “not made for kids.” Starting in January, the “made for kids” videos will no longer contain targeted ads and will not turn up in the suggested videos section, as data collected from children will be much more limited.

“You lose all your targeted ads, so about 90% of your revenue is completely gone,” Chris Provost said. “Then, if you market as adult, people are like ‘this is an adult channel, we don’t want to watch as a family,’ so what the problem is, is YouTube doesn’t distinguish between family-friendly versus kids-targeting.”

The Provosts said many YouTubers in the Disney Vlogger community are concerned about whether they may be forced to have their videos put in the “made for kids” designation. On top of that, if YouTube later finds videos labeled as “not made for kids” that they believe should be in the “made for kids” section, the Provosts said those content creators could be fined up to $42,000 per video.

“What’s the incentive?” Amanda Provost said. “How are people going to be able to create YouTube videos, because it’s expensive, it’s time-consuming, it’s full-time jobs for so many people — and how can you continue if you’re not making money?”

Amanda and Chris Provost run the “Provost Park Pass” YouTube channel. (Photo: KSL TV)

Fortunately, with their facts and history-driven approach, the Provosts believe their channel and videos should fit in as “not made for kids,” though they feel the choices are too black and white.

“The problem is YouTube only still has the two options; adult, or child-targeting,” Chris Provost said. “We’re really lobbying for them to be able to put a third option in there for family content.”

The Provosts added the FTC will take public comment on the issue through Dec. 8 and pointed their viewers to an online petition to protect family content on YouTube.

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