A recent report delving into advertising quality and transparency platforms has brought to light a disconcerting discovery: tech behemoths like Google, Amazon, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Microsoft may exploit YouTube ads as a means to track the online activities of children.
The data analysis findings are telling; over 300 brand advertisements intended for adult products were seen displayed on more than 100 YouTube videos targeted at children. YouTube employs Google’s AI-driven ad targeting system, known as ‘Performance Max’, to engage its ideal customer base.
Uncovering Child Tracking Through YouTube Ads The report also reveals that these advertisements were strategically presented to users who weren’t logged into YouTube. These users subsequently reconnected with advertisers’ websites, effectively allowing the tagging of their browsers with tracking software from corporations such as Google, Meta, Microsoft, and others.
Addressing the Concern The ramifications are unsettling, as the collection of tracking data on children under 13 without parental consent for advertising purposes could potentially breach the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). In response, two U.S. senators have urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to initiate an investigation into Google and YouTube for potential COPPA violations.
The senators’ concern is grounded in estimations that this conduct by YouTube and Google might have impacted a considerable number of children, potentially ranging from hundreds of thousands to even millions across the United States.
Google’s Stance Amidst the storm, Google has rebuffed any assertions of COPPA violations, asserting that the conclusions drawn from the report are ‘highly inaccurate and misleading.’ Google clarified to a news agency that running ads meant for adults on videos intended for children could hold value, as parents watching these videos could eventually translate into potential customers.
Furthermore, it was underscored that the company does not implement personalized ads on videos meant for children, and its advertising practices are fully aligned with COPPA regulations
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