New $100 million global fund for children’s content on YouTube must promote diverse non-commercial content and empower creators, advocates say

Fund developed in response to Google’s failure to protect children’s privacy must incorporate safeguards
Contact:

Anya Silverman-Stoloff | anya@unbendablemedia.com
David Monahan | david@commercialfreechildhood.org
Jeff Chester | jeff@democraticmedia.org

New $100 million global fund for children’s content on YouTube must promote diverse non-commercial content and empower creators, advocates say
Fund developed in response to Google’s failure to protect children’s privacy must incorporate safeguards

A new $100 million fund to help support children’s content, created by Google/YouTube as a consequence of its failure to protect the privacy of children, should be structured to benefit the interests of children and independent producers of quality video content–not just to bolster YouTube’s ongoing dominance in the global kids video marketplace, said a coalition of groups in a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Groups sending the letter include ParentsTogether, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Center for Digital Democracy, Free Press and Writers Guild of America, East, AFL-CIO.  

In the letter, the groups called on Google to: 

  • Awards grants that reflect the perspectives and interests of children from different countries and cultures
  • Underwrite content makers who are diverse and independent, with at least 50% of funding dedicated to historically underrepresented communities 
  • Promote educational content and content which reflects the highest values of civil society, including diversity
  • Ensure that content doesn’t promote commercialism 
  • Ensure that creators are protected under the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Minimum Basic Agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).
  • Be advised by a team of leading independent experts who can ensure programming is commissioned that truly serves the educational, civic, and developmental needs of young people.

The letter argues that, “Operating the fund using these principles will allow YouTube to cement its place as a leader in children’s programming and more importantly, make a world of difference—ensuring that time spent watching YouTube will enrich children.”

READ THE FULL LETTER AND SEE A COMPLETE LIST OF SIGNERS HERE: https://parentstogetheraction.org/2020/10/07/letter-to-youtube-re-100-million-global-fund-for-childrens-content/

“From education to entertainment, YouTube is one of the most popular platforms for children,” said Justin Ruben, co-founder of ParentsTogether. “In a time when a lot of our kids’ lives have moved online, YouTube is shaping how children experience the world and they need to act responsibly. That means acting in the best interests of children and prioritizing kids over profits.”

“As Free Press’ new essay, Media 2070, demonstrates, there is a long history of racism in our media, and particularly anti-Black racism,” said Jessica J. González, co-CEO of Free Press. “YouTube has played a significant role in normalizing racism, platforming white supremacists and allowing them to recruit, monetize and normalize the pain and suffering of people of color. At a bare minimum YouTube should ensure that this fund supports creators of color so that our kids can be exposed to a more robust variety of viewpoints and learn from storytellers who look like them.”

“Google purposefully positioned YouTube to be the leading global platform targeting children and teens around the world,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy.  “The company has a special responsibility to ensure that its new fund is governed by policies that enable young people to access an array of quality content that benefits them—not Google’s bottom line.”

“Last year’s FTC settlement with Google documented its failure to protect and well-serve its massive audience of children on YouTube,” said Josh Golin, Executive Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Today, far too much of the content promoted by YouTube to kids gives them an unhealthy diet of marketing pitches, including programs hawking toys and other products. The creator’s fund should be used to promote content which serves the needs of children, not toymakers and marketers.”

“YouTube must commit to utilizing its $100 million global fund to produce children’s content that protects content creators, talent (especially children performers) and, critically, the privacy of its target audience,” said Lowell Peterson, Executive Director of the Writers Guild of America, East.  “The most effective way to enforce worker and user protections is ensuring all productions are done with complete transparency, clear guidelines and collective bargaining agreements between YouTube and the unions representing content creators and talent.”

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