How to 'Hide' Your YouTube Channel From the FTC and COPPA... But Should You?

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If you are still reeling from the new COPPA ruling for YouTube creators you may be considering 'hiding' your channel while you decide your strategy. We tell you why this isn't the best idea.

How are the new FTC and COPPA rulings going to affect your YouTube journey? Are you going to get your channel in order and continue to eat, sleep, create, and repeat or are you so terrified at the possible consequences for you personally that you're going to stop YouTube and even delete your channel? With that question being asked, there may be a third option.

There's a rule called COPPA that the FTC enforce and YouTube have been found by the FTC to have been breaking that rule. They've been hit with a huge fine and now they're asking all video creators to sort out their content into ‘Made for Kids’ or not. If you don't do this, you face a potential channel termination and fines personally liable to you. For more information about COPPA, take a look at our previous blog posts.

Done with YouTube? How to Delete Your Channel

Let's start with the worst-case scenario. You're done with YouTube, you want to make sure there's no chance of the FTC coming after you. In that case, you'll want to delete your channel.

  • To do this, click on your profile image in the top right-hand corner of most YouTube screens and go to settings.
  • At the bottom of this screen on the left-hand side, you'll see advanced settings link, which when you click on that you will see this delete channel option.
  • Click on it.
  • Now it goes without saying that we're getting into some serious business here, so you do all this at your own risk. You will need to reconfirm your account password at this point which, once done, will display a simple yet potentially life-changing screen.
  • If you click on “I want to permanently delete my content”, YouTube will give you the low down on what's about to happen and that includes deleting all of your videos, removing all of the subscribers from your channel, deleting comments, replies, messages, and search history.

Hiding Your YouTube Channel

If you want to ensure that your content is not only not made for kids, but not made for anyone because it no longer exists, then this deleting the option for you but what if you're not ready to do that? What if you could just hide your channel for a while and give all of this FTC, COPPA, and made for kids business a chance to settle down?

Well, that's where this option comes into play. Essentially, your entire YouTube activity will be made private. None of your content or activity will be viewable, and if you want to upload new videos, comment on other people's videos, or use playlists, you will have to re-enable your channel. So if you are determined to leave YouTube at least for the time being, give your future self the option of returning with your contact intact by hiding the channel instead of deleting it. Do bear in mind, however, that you will permanently lose any comments you have using this account.

When you do this, it will be as if your channel never existed even to you. It will ask you to create a new channel, and if you go to the YouTube Studio, you won't find anything there either.

  • To re-enable your account, click on your profile picture and click on create channel.
  • Choose let's get started, and then make sure to click on your user name. If you use a custom name, this will create a brand new channel.
  • A form will appear next which you can go through or check later.
  • Ultimately, you should end up on your channel page, and if you check your YouTube studio, now you should find all of the videos that were previously there.

There are quite a lot of things to consider before you take this action. Before you decide to hide your channel, and if you're determined to do that, then you at least want to set your channel default for ‘Made for Kids’ or not so that when you come back to YouTube, at least you have that setting in place. Whether it's in six months' time, or a years' time, make sure you have that set before you hide your channel.

I also want to add a small disclaimer that I'm not entirely sure what's going to happen regarding the FTC and COPPA with all videos, let alone the channel that you've set to private or hidden. It's still possible that YouTube may automatically go through your content with machine learning to categorize your content, and the FTC might get in contact with you, although it's very unlikely if your content is not viewable at the beginning of 2020.

Also, I have no idea what implications this will have on your channel as a whole. Imagine getting 1000's of views per day, then hiding your channel, and suddenly getting nothing for months, and then reopening your channel. There's a YouTube algorithm there, and whether it's going to treat your channel the same as it did beforehand and you just start getting all those views again, I honestly don't know.

Given the audience perception, if your channel suddenly disappears, are they likely to return in a few months' time when you come back onto YouTube? Chances are, they probably won't know you exist, and they've moved onto something else. So that is something to bear in mind as well. With the exception of deleting your entire YouTube channel forever, I believe this is the most extreme reaction and action to FTC and COPPA. Think long and hard before you decide to do this, and do it at your own risk.

If I were to take a personal, non-VidIQ opinion on this, and I can do because I still have my own tech channel, what I would do is research this as much as possible, go through my content, correctly identify as made for kids or not, and if you are a kids channel, then just be honest.

You may see an immediate impact on your channel, but at least you're running on the right side of these YouTube and COPPA laws, and then as the time flows and we all learn a little bit more about what's going on, we can start to refine our channels, but to just do a hard stop, dead, and give up, I think is the worst possible option. We've had the Adpocalypse, we've had net neutrality, we've had Article 13, and all of the worst-case scenarios that have been predicted for all of these things have not come to fruition.

Now, I'm not for one second suggesting that this is not a huge threat to the YouTube platform. I think this is the biggest direct challenge to video creators on the platform since YouTube was born, but if you let this or any other obstacle get in the way of your creative expression of a message that you want to spread to a global audience and impact people in a meaningful way, then as I said before, I think your mentality on YouTube is misguided.

The FTC and COPPA affects your ability to earn revenue, yes, but ultimately, does it stop you from being able to broadcast to the world for free? I still think fundamentally the answer is no. The choice is still in your hands, and for some of you, yes, this may be the final straw, and you're right, the YouTube platform is no longer suitable for your content. There are alternatives of course - Twitch, Instagram, Twitter. Maybe we do need a disruptor in the video platform space to compete with YouTube, but the last thing I want you to feel is paralyzed.

Make a decision and act on it. Whether it's to hide your channel, delete your channel, or continue to make YouTube videos.

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