In a report regarding YouTube’s “Year of Responsibility,” Bloomberg revealed an interesting detail. Apparently, YouTube Kids was originally going to be manually curated for every piece of content on the platform.

Recently, YouTube started forcing creators to designate whether or not their content is designed for kids after the platform was fined by the FTC. This affects how ads appear and what kind of ads appear on that content. As has been explained, this could have huge effects on creator revenue and has been causing some panic with the new legal liability associated with marking a video designed for children.

This most recent decision puts the responsibility on the creators, but at one point, the platform apparently considered taking much more control over content for children. Bloomberg explains that earlier this year, a team of 40 employees worked on a project named “Crosswalk” – “a way to guide kids across YouTube’s chaotic streets” – which would handpick content for YouTube Kids specifically.

For any video aimed at kids under the age of 8, YouTube would screen the video before allowing it in YouTube Kids leading to a manually curated platform.

The team was code-named Crosswalk — as in a way to guide kids across YouTube’s chaotic streets. Among its proposals was a radical one, at least by the standards of Silicon Valley: YouTube would screen every video aimed at kids under the age of 8 in its YouTube Kids app, ensuring that no untoward content crept into the feed of millions of tots around the world.

This project went so far at YouTube to the point where a press release was drafted. In that release, Susan Wojcicki said professional moderators would check each clip for YouTube Kids. However, plans for the manually curated YouTube Kids app were dropped at the last minute. Inside of YouTube, this was apparently decided on since it made YouTube less of a neutral platform, but a spokesperson denied that idea.

The rationale was clear to some at YouTube, one person involved in the project recalled. Hand-picking videos, even for kids, made YouTube look too much like a media company, not a neutral platform. A YouTube spokeswoman denied the idea was turned down because it put the company in charge of programming, but she declined to comment further on the decision.

YouTube Kids does offer some options for manually curated content. In 2018, the app added an option for letting parents curate the content in the app or to whitelist specific channels.

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