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YouTube Kids App Rapped for Videos Citing Porn, Pedophilia, Drug Use

Google’s recently launched YouTube Kids app includes videos with themes about sex, alcohol and drug use, suicide, child abuse and pedophilia, two consumer groups claim — content that the Internet-video giant says it has taken steps to remove from the service.

Google is deceiving parents by marketing YouTube Kids as a safe place for children under five to explore when, in reality, the app is rife with videos that would not meet anyone’s definition of ‘family friendly,'” the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood said in a statement.

According to the two groups, YouTube Kids videos have included: an “Animaniacs” episode where cartoon animals sing words including “piss,” “fellatio” and “penis”; a dancer demonstrating how to do Michael Jackson’s “crotch grab” move; a Budweiser ad; a TED speaker discussing his suicide attempt as a teenager; President Obama joking with ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel about marijuana; a “guide to red wine”; jokes about pedophilia; and a demonstration of how to light a match and use it to set a pile of matches on fire.

Asked for comment, Google said, “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.”

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The app, launched in February, is designed to provide content aimed at children 5 and under in a walled-garden environment with minimal advertising. YouTube Kids previously was the target of a coalition of consumer groups urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the service as a potential violation of rules about advertising to children.

“The videos provided to children on YouTube Kids intermix commercial and other content in ways that are deceptive and unfair to children and would not be permitted to be shown on broadcast or cable television,” the groups wrote in a letter sent Tuesday to the FTC.

The free YouTube Kids app includes videos from Jim Henson Co., DreamWorks Animation, National Geographic Kids, Hit Entertainment and LeVar Burton’s “Reading Rainbow.” The apps carry a “limited number” of prescreened pre-roll video ads, which will exclude any click-throughs to websites or product purchasing offers, according to Google.

According to YouTube, it collaborated on the kids’ app with groups including: Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely.org, the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) and WiredSafety.org.

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