CCFC Blog

This is the year we'll stop marketers from tracking and targeting children online. Senators Ed Markey and Josh Hawley have just proposed the strongest restrictions on marketing to children in more than twenty years. Their bill – which we helped shaped – reads like a CCFC wish list. Among other things, our legislation would: Ban all targeted marketing to children under 13. That means advertisers can't use kids' locations, interests, browsing habits, or anything else about them to target them with ads. Hold companies like YouTube, Instagram, and Snapchat accountable for profiting off of the millions of underage children that regularly use their sites. Give teens important new privacy...
In the wake of a series of explosive scandals, it's widely expected that Congress will pass new privacy legislation in the coming year. Big Tech lobbyists are flooding Washington to water down any bills that might stop them from exploiting personal data for profit. But we'll be there too, as founding members of Privacy and Digital Rights for All, a coalition of powerful consumer and civil rights advocates calling for real, robust privacy laws.   Unlike other privacy efforts, which are often guided by industry and let lawmakers pat themselves on the back while corporations continue merrily along stealing data, our Framework for Comprehensive Privacy Protection and Digital Rights is driven by the needs of real people – and,...
In January, it was revealed that Facebook knowingly defrauded children and their families out of millions of dollars by intentionally misleading children into making in-app purchases. The company referred to children who unintentionally spent thousands of dollars as “whales,” a casino industry term for high-rollers, and refused to refund unauthorized purchases. Not only did the company not refund these unauthorized charges, they encouraged them. As we wrote at the time, these policies and attitudes toward kids show that Facebook is unfit to make products for children. Now, we’re joining our allies at Common Sense Media, Center for Digital Democracy, and 14 other organizations, asking the FTC to investigate these clearly fraudulent...
Last week, an analysis of hundreds of unsealed court documents by Reveal showed that Facebook had knowingly duped children into making millions of dollars of accidental purchases for years. It's clear that this company only views children as a source of profit, not people. So on Tuesday, January 29th, we sent this letter to Mark Zuckerberg, renewing our demand that he shut down Messenger Kids immediately. Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, One year ago we sent you a letter, signed by more than 100 public health advocates, urging you to discontinue Messenger Kids, Facebook’s first social media app designed specifically for children under the age of 13. Shortly after, we sent you a petition signed by more than 21,000 people urging you to end the...
Apps for kids shouldn’t serve deceptive ads, collect personal data, or trick children into making in-app purchases – but Google recommends a slew of “family-friendly” apps that do just that!  Google’s Play Store offers a family section full of apps recommended for kids, with age ratings as low as “5 and under.” Parents are led to believe that the apps in this section are vetted by Google and safe for children, but now we know that’s not the case: Google routinely recommends apps that illegally collect children’s data, interrupt gameplay with deceptive advertising, pressure kids into making in-app purchases, and even model harmful behavior like cleaning your eyes with sharp objects. Tell Google: Kids’ apps...
Today, in conjunction with a major new study that details a host of concerning practices in apps targeted to young children, CCFC and 21 other consumer and public health advocacy groups called on the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate the preschool app market. The advocates’ letter urges the FTC to hold app makers accountable for unfair and deceptive practices, including falsely marketing apps that require in-app purchases as “free” and manipulating children to watch ads and make purchases. The study, “Advertising in Young Children’s Apps,” was led by researchers at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, and examined the type and content of advertising in 135 children’s apps. Researchers found a number of...
Dear Friend, As our latest Annual Report shows, it’s an exciting time for those of us who believe that corporate profits should never come at the expense of children’s wellbeing.  Teachers are pushing back against intrusive educational technologies that profit off student data. Pundits and politicians are finally asking tough questions about Big Tech. Parents are helping one another navigate the challenges of (not) giving smartphones to pre-teens. And Silicon Valley executives are questioning whether the technologies they’ve unleashed are really good for children.  You’ve helped make kids and commercialism a mainstream issue, and in this new climate, we’re more effective than ever. In just the past twelve months, CCFC has: Exposed how one...
On October 10, we joined Defending the Early Years and leading educators and advocates to reject online “preschool” and demand real universal pre-K programs. Will you join us? Decades of research show the benefits of early education, but millions of low-income and rural families still lack access to high-quality preschool. This unequal access harms kids, families, and communities, but some Ed Tech companies see it as a lucrative opportunity to corner a $70 billion “preschool market.” The result is “online preschool”: algorithm-driven software bundled with the lie that kindergarten readiness can be transmitted through a screen. Despite no evidence of positive long-term outcomes, Utah began funding online pre-K in 2015....
Today, CCFC and 17 other public health advocacy groups called on the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate and take action against Facebook for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). We filed a complaint asserting that Messenger Kids, a controversial messaging application for children as young as five, collects kids’ personal information without obtaining verifiable parental consent or providing parents with clear and complete disclosures of Facebook’s data practices.  Messenger Kids is the first major social platform designed specifically for young children. Our FTC complaint says that Facebook’s parental consent mechanism does not meet the requirements of COPPA because it’s not reasonably...
The best films provide us with an escape, and inspiration. I recently fled the blazing hot summer sun for the cool comfort of a theater to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the new documentary about children’s TV host Fred Rogers. Away from the vitriol of social media and today’s political discourse, I bathed in filmmaker Morgan Neville’s thoughtful illumination of how Rogers changed the media landscape by speaking slowly, soothingly, and directly to the heart of each of the millions of children who visited his Neighborhood every day. I came away inspired that this kinder, gentler approach might still point the way forward: maybe for our society, and certainly for children’s media.   Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted in...

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