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Child advocacy groups say YouTube Kids rife with 'inappropriate' videos

Drugs, sex and booze? Two consumer-advocacy groups say they found explicit references to all three kids' no-nos in videos on Google's YouTube Kids app.

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy on Tuesday stepped up their criticism of the site, saying it is "rife" with content unsuitable for children. They filed an update to an April complaint with the Federal Trade Commission against YouTube Kids, contending the site is billed as "family friendly" but instead contains "a significant amount of content that would be extremely disturbing and/or potentially harmful for young children to view."

The groups sent a video link to the FTC documenting examples of what they said were examples of inappropriate content accessible on the site: a profanity-laced parody of the film "Casino" featuring Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie, graphic discussions about family violence, pornography and child suicide, jokes about drug use, and advertising for alcohol products.

"Google promised parents that YouTube Kids would deliver appropriate content for children, but it has failed to fulfill its promise," Aaron Mackey, the coalition's attorney, said in a statement. "Parents rightfully feel deceived by YouTube Kids."

In response, Google issued this statement: "We work to make the videos in YouTube Kids as family-friendly as possible and take feedback very seriously. We appreciate people drawing problematic content to our attention, and make it possible for anyone to flag a video. Flagged videos are manually reviewed 24/7 and any videos that don't belong in the app are removed. For parents who want a more restricted experience, we recommend that they turn off search."

The company has previously denied claims that YouTube Kids targets young children with deceptive advertising and says it worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups in developing YouTube Kids. Google introduced the YouTube Kids app in February as a "safer" place for children under age 5 to explore videos.

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