More than two billion people watch at least one YouTube video every month. Among them, numerous minors, who are exposed to content that may be disturbing or shocking for them. To ensure that they are adequately protected, Google is working on algorithms that will automatically modify age restrictions for certain videos. As for internet users, they will soon have to provide proof of age by, for example, presenting identity papers.
YouTube is counting on artificial intelligence, and more particularly machine learning, to adjust access restrictions. Google's objective is to protect children from obscene and violent images, which are not appropriate for their age. Mathematically, this will mean that more and more videos will be subject to age restrictions. Let's not forget that video creators can already indicate age restrictions for their content, but this measure has not proven to be sufficiently effective.
If an internet user is not old enough to view a requested video, he or she will be automatically redirected to content that is more appropriate for his or her age. In any case, users will have to be logged in to their accounts so that Google can evaluate the suitability of content for their particular age group.
Identity papers, please!
To ensure that users are of legal age, Google plans to request that they submit credit card details or identity papers. The latter will probably be demanded of European internet users, who will have to provide proof of age in compliance with the most recent European directive on audiovisual media. It stipulates that "member States shall take appropriate measures to ensure that on-demand audiovisual media services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction which might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors are only made available in such a way as to ensure that minors will not normally hear or see such on-demand audiovisual media services. ... Content that might seriously impair the physical, mental or moral development of minors, in particular programs that involve pornography or gratuitous violence will be subject to stricter restrictions."
Google, which has yet to disclose a timetable for the implementation of the new measures, continues to recommend that children should use its dedicated platform for the under-13s, YouTube Kids, on which the content is systematically filtered.
The challenge faced by the streaming service is a substantial one, especially when you consider that the average YouTube visitor spends 16 minutes and 10 seconds per day watching half a dozen videos, according to the latest data from Alexa Internet, which also shows that that the amount of time users spend on the service continues to grow.