Consumer groups are outraged about the way that Google’s new YouTube Kids app advertises to children.
The groups are charging the new app’s videos intermix entertainment and commercial content in a way that is deceptive — and would not be permitted on broadcast or cable television. They are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether YouTube Kids violates federal law.
The YouTube Kids app was released in late February on the iTunes and Android stores. It’s designed to let kids watch “family friendly” videos on smartphones and tablets.
Google has claimed that it only shows kid-appropriate ads that undergo a rigorous screening process. Many types of ads are banned on the app, including ads for food, beverages, video games, and beauty and fitness products.
But the consumer groups say many of the app’s videos violate Google’s own stated policies.
“Many of the video segments endorsing toys, candy and other products that appear to be ‘user-generated’ have undisclosed relationships with product manufacturers in violation of the FTC’s guidelines concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising,” said the letter than the groups sent to the FTC on Tuesday.
The groups filing the objections include the Center for Digital Democracy, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children Now, the Consumer Federation of America, the Consumer Watchdog and Public Citizen.
A statement from Google(GOOG), which owns YouTube, said the company worked with worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups when developing YouTube Kids. Google said that the critics are contending that no ad-supported service for children can ever be acceptable.
“We disagree and think that great content shouldn’t be reserved for only those families who can afford it,” said Google’s statement.