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Ryan's ToyReview found mixing content and commercial

Image from Youtube
Image from Youtube

Youtube channel Ryan’s Toyreviews was recently struck with a Federal Trade Commission complaint, claiming that their content was misleading children regarding any and all sponsored content.

Ryan Kaji, a seven-year-old boy, has been the star of Ryan’s Toyreviews, one of the top child-centric channels on Youtube. Ryan the focus of more than five separate channels, each one operated by his parents

As of this story, Ryan has 21.5 million subscribers on his main channel and was reported to have earned $22 million. The majority of this income was made, according to Forbes, through a mixture of toy deals, sponsorships, and advertising. This number is even higher than Youtuber PewDiePie, who has nearly 5 times the subscribers.

However, select groups have found an issue with Ryan’s operation. Truth in Advertising, a consumer watchdog who tracks commercial usage and advocacy, filed an FTC claim against Ryan’s parents, claiming that:

“Ryan ToysReview’s sponsored content is presented in a manner that misleadingly blurs the distinction between advertising and organic content for its intended audience. According to the FTC, when such a blending of content occurs, ‘any material connection between an endorser… and the seller of the advertised product… must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in a manner that will be easily understood by the intended audience.’”

In this case, the audience is unable to understand what advertising is and cannot identify obvious commercials. As such, Ryan ToysReview’s ads and sponsored content violate FTC law.

Ryan’s videos often feature sponsored segments that were paid for by outside companies, such as Chuck E. Cheese or Hardee’s.

Shion stated in an interview with the New York Times that he would abide by the protocols filed by the FTC, not challenging the complaint.

“The well-being of our viewers is always the top priority for us, and we strictly follow all platforms’ terms of service and all existing laws and regulations, including advertising disclosure requirements,” Shion said.

This practice regarding FTC regulations is hardly new. The government agencyhas been investigating matters of fair and unfair use of representations of toys since 1980, after a series of incidents were filed regarding certain toys’ inability to fulfill the functions that were broadcast on television. These include acts like toy helicopters flying without being held, or a horse doll’s ability to stand up, even as the original toy is unable to perform that same act.

This filing came about after Youtube as a company settled a recent finefrom the FTC for $170 million. Said lawsuit occurred due to recent breaches of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA for short. This filing will require Youtube to no longer collect the information on children under 12 years of age. This occurs predominantly through targeted ads.

This filing is already having a significant effect on family and child-centric Youtubers, with several networks and creators removing select ads, disabling comments and other such endeavors.

Sources: Forbes, Truth in Advertising, New York Times, FTC, Verge

Image: Youtube