The US-based technology giant Google will no longer allow ads aiming at children based on their age, gender, or interests as part of a new series of measures designed to protect those under 18 using its services, the company said.
Other changes made by Google include turning off its “location history” feature, which tracks location data, for users under the age of 18 globally. It will also widen the types of age-sensitive advertisement categories that are blocked for users up to 18 years old and will turn on safe searching filters for users up to that age.
Google is introducing a new policy for all under-18s and their parents or guardians to request the removal of the young person’s images from Google Image search results, the company said in a blog post, as part of several changes regarding young users.
Major online platforms have long been under scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over their sites’ impact on the safety, privacy and wellbeing of younger users. Social media platforms’ approach to younger users has been in the spotlight in recent months as US lawmakers and attorneys general slammed Facebook’s plans to create a kids-focused version of Instagram.
Google’s changes are similar to what Facebook introduced last month when it said Instagram accounts for kids under 16 will be set to private by default, meaning users have to choose to make their profiles public. It also banned ads targeted at children based on their interests or their activity, although it still allowed them to be targeted based on age, gender, and location.
“Some countries are implementing regulations in this area, and as we comply with these regulations, we’re looking at ways to develop consistent product experiences and user controls for kids and teens globally,” said Ms. Mindy Brooks, Google’s general manager for kids and families.
Google’s video-streaming site YouTube said it would in the coming weeks change the default upload setting to its most private option for teens aged 13-17, where content is seen only by the user and people they choose. Users will still be able to decide to make their content public.
YouTube will also remove overly commercial content, like a video that only focuses on product packaging or directly encourages children to spend money, from its app for kids, said the site’s kids and family product management director, Mr. James Beser.