Google to introduce increased protections for minors on its platform, including Search, YouTube and more ' TechCrunch

After Instagram introduced increased protections for minors who use its app, Google now does the same with its suite of services including Google search and YouTube. This morning, the company announced a number of policy and product changes that will enable younger users to remain more private and secure online.Google's changes are more extensive than those announced by Instagram, because they cover a variety of Google products instead of just one app.Although Congress has been pressing Google, and other tech companies, about the potential negative effects their services might have on children's lives, Google claims that not all changes are required by law.TechCrunch was told by a spokesperson for Google that some updates address future regulations. However, we have gone above and beyond the law to protect teens using YouTube and Google. Many of these updates go beyond any one current or future regulation. They added that they are looking into ways to create consistent product experiences for teens and users controls worldwide.Google, in other words, is making changes based upon where it believes the industry will go, and not on where it is at the moment.YouTube has announced that Google will adjust the default upload setting to make it more private for users aged 13-17. This will restrict the visibility of videos to only the users who share them with them and not to the general public. The setting can be changed back to public by these younger teens, but they must make an explicit and deliberate choice. YouTube will provide reminders to remind them who has access to their videos, the company says. YouTube stated that the changes only will apply to new uploads and will not retroactively make any videos private.YouTube will automatically turn on take a rest and bedtime reminders for users aged 13-17. Autoplay will be disabled. These changes are made to the default settings. Users can choose to disable digital well-being features.YouTube will add an autoplay option to YouTube Kids, YouTube's platform for children younger than 8. YouTube will allow parents to choose whether to enable autoplay or not. After complaints from child safety advocates, and members of Congress that such an algorithmic feature was not appropriate, the change gives parents the ability to make their own decision. Parents will be able later to lock their default selection.YouTube will also remove commercial content from YouTube Kid. This move follows increasing pressure from childhood experts and consumer advocacy groups.YouTube is not yet clear on how it will define acceptable commercial content. However, the company stated that videos that are focused on product packaging, such as the unboxing videos, will be removed. YouTube's largest creators of videos for children, such as multi-millionaire Ryans Toy Review, could be affected. It also stated that it will remove product packaging and any content that encourages viewers to purchase a product.Other changes that affect minors will be made on Google.Google will soon introduce a new policy to allow anyone below 18 years old, or their parent or guardian, request that images be removed from Google Image search results. This will not only expand on the existing privacy policies entitled "right to be forgotten" that are already in place in the E.U. but also introduces new products and controls for children and teens worldwide.The company will also make adjustments to user accounts for those under 18 years of age.Google will block access to adult content via SafeSearch, which Google will enable by default for all users under 13 who use its Google Family Link service. SafeSearch will be available to all users below 18 years old and it will become the default setting for new accounts created by teens. Google Assistant will automatically enable SafeSearch protections on shared devices like smart screens and web browsers. SafeSearch will be the default in school settings that use Google Workspace for Education. Also, switching to Incognito Mode or Guest Mode web browsing will not be possible as it was announced recently.While location history is disabled by default for all Google accounts, children with supervised accounts will not be able enable it. This change will apply to all users below 18 worldwide, so location cannot be enabled under any circumstances.Google Play will introduce a new section which will inform parents about apps that follow its Family policies. App developers will also have to disclose the data they collect. These features, which were partly inspired by Apple's App Store Privacy Labels, have already been described for Android developers.Google's parental control tools have also been expanded. Family Link users, parents and guardians, will have new capabilities to block and filter news, podcasts and access to webpages from Assistant-enabled smart phones.Advertisers will also notice significant changes in their stores.Google claims it will increase safeguards to stop age-sensitive ads being shown to teens. It will also block ad targeting that is based on age, gender or interests of users under 18. Similar to the changes Instagram made to its advertising, ads won't be able to use interests data to target young teens. However, Instagram still allows targeting by gender and age. Google won't. According to the company, these changes in advertising will be rolled out worldwide over the next few months.In the coming weeks, all the changes in Google and YouTube worldwide will be available.