He's 7, making millions on YouTube. Well, an FTC complaint


The world's highest-earning YouTube star is in hot water, or at least his family is – because the star himself is only seven years old. The Ryan ToysReview channel, which earned its young star an estimated $ 22 million last year, has been blamed by consumer watchdog Truth in Advertising for fraudulent advertising to its young viewers, BuzzFeed News. The group, which has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, says the family is not properly disclosing its advertising agreements, and blends sponsored content with regular content on its channel without making clear what content is actually an ad. It adds that sometimes disclosures reveal on-screen briefs in text young viewers do not yet know how to read, NBC News reports. Ryan's family sent a statement to BuzzFeed and denied any wrongdoing, saying it supports any efforts by regulators "to protect both viewers and creators."

The group offers two videos as examples: one in which Ryan is shown playing in a late drive-thru with no sponsored content, and a similar one he plays in a pretend drive-thru while hawking his toy partnership with a fast-food chain. "Unfortunately, it is often difficult to separate the innocent (or sometimes not so innocent) things in Ryan ToysReview videos from the sponsored content," the group said. And while adults may tell the difference, preschoolers can't. The channel "deceptively promotes a plethora of products to millions of preschool-aged children in violation of FTC law," the group said. The current law states that ads "must be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in a way that is easily understood by the intended audience." The FTC says it has received the complaint, but did not say whether an investigation has been opened. (Google makes major changes to "young" YouTube videos.)

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