In Three Weeks YouTubers Need to be COPPA Compliant — But They Have No Idea What that Means

Creators like Adam Saleh have no idea what 2020 will bring, but YouTube’s new bullying policy gives an idea

Chris Stokel-Walker
FFWD
Published in
4 min readDec 11, 2019

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Image: Adam Saleh/YouTube, edited by Chris Stokel-Walker

Adam Saleh is worried. We are just three weeks away from 2020, and perhaps one of the biggest changes ever to YouTube as the video sharing platform celebrates its 15th birthday. The platform is introducing massive changes to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), and they’re affecting creators.

The problem is Saleh, an Arab-American New Yorker who has 4.8 million subscribers, like many others has little idea of what those changes hold.

YouTube has introduced a new designation of video, “Made for Kids”, that will no longer have personalized ads served against it. The platform has complained to the Federal Trade Commission, who fined YouTube a record amount for its COPPA violations, about the vagaries of the rules. But creators are still in the dark.

Saleh has an audience of all ages, including children from the age of around eight to 15, who make up between 50% and 60% of his viewership. “It makes me nervous, because of losing my channel and monetization,” he says. “YouTube changes so many things.”

The creator first heard about the changes YouTube were introducing as a result of COPPA not from his YouTube partner manager or a personal communication, but instead through an automated notification while on the website. “I talked to the YouTube MCN [multichannel network] I’m part of, Fullscreen, and they don’t know much information,” he says. “Every time I talk to them they say they’ll know in a few months what YouTube wants to do. Even they don’t know much information about COPPA or anything that YouTube changes.”

That’s normal for YouTube, says Saleh. “YouTube always makes updates. That’s part of being on the platform. I’ve seen changes good and bad, and I’m still here,” he says. But…

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Chris Stokel-Walker
FFWD
Editor for

UK-based freelancer for The Guardian, The Economist, BuzzFeed News, the BBC and more. Tell me your story, or get me to write for you: stokel@gmail.com