Google has responded to a recent report by Adalytics that claimed the company was in violation of government regulations and its own policies regarding ads personalization for children on YouTube. The report was described as being deeply flawed and uninformed by Google, and it follows a previous report by Adalytics that was also debunked. Google asserts that it works tirelessly to provide a safer experience for children and teens online and that it builds its products with this mission in mind.

The company states that it has strict privacy protections in place for ads on content made for kids, regardless of the viewer’s age. Since January 2020, YouTube has treated personal information from anyone watching “made for kids” content as coming from a child, meaning that ads personalization is prohibited. Third-party trackers are also not allowed in advertisements served on content made for kids.

The report from Adalytics claims that the presence of cookies indicates a privacy breakdown. However, Google argues that the use of cookies on child-directed content is allowed by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) for practices such as statistical reporting and preventing ad fraud. Google asserts that the cookies identified in the report are encrypted and not usable by other companies or data brokers. They do not enable advertisers to identify individual users or the videos they have viewed.

Google also mentions that it has strict policies on the types of ads allowed to appear next to kids’ content. Advertisements for dating apps, food and beverage products, and those with violent or graphic content are restricted. The company emphasizes that advertisers have complete control over where their ads run and offers them the option to opt out of showing ads on made for kids content with a simple one-click tool.

For parents and guardians, Google provides options to ensure their children have a safe YouTube experience. YouTube Kids, designed specifically for kids, does not allow personalized ads, and advertising guidelines prohibit ads personalization and age-sensitive ad categories. Supervised Accounts are also available for tweens, with no personalized ads served and restrictions on age-sensitive ad categories.

Google concludes by stating that it stands by its protections for kids and teens and has invested significant resources in ensuring their safety on its platforms. The company welcomes responsible research and discussions with advertisers, users, regulators, and third-party groups. It expresses disappointment that Adalytics ignored its offers to meet and criticizes the report for drawing misleading conclusions based on an inaccurate understanding of Google’s privacy practices. Despite these issues, Google reiterates its commitment to upholding industry-leading protections for children and teens across its products.

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