General, Product News, Security | September 23, 2019

Removing YouTube integration for your safety

Effective September 27, 2019 we are removing the “Export to YouTube” feature from the Swivl Teams platform. This is a feature that was added early in our platform based on a few customer requests. But after a long internal discussion and with support from key customers, we have decided to remove it.

What motivated this decision was the recent announcement that YouTube knowingly violated COPPA law and although a $170 million FTC fine seems impressive, YouTube still brings in close to $15 billion in revenue annually. YouTube has promised to improve but they still largely focus on kid-created content and the changes they have identified are very narrowly defined. Given the intrinsic goals of the ad-driven platform like YouTube, it raises a concern for us that other violations are possible and probable. And today, we say: enough is enough.

We are all users of Google tools and many schools have adopted various Google platforms -- Chromebooks, GAFE, etc. GAFE was conceived to be safe for educational uses, but not all Google products are created equally. My co-founder, Brian, first alerted the education community about YouTube’s non-compliance back in 2015. In the past, some customers who purchased Swivl robots wanted to use YouTube for both student-facing as well as teacher-facing uses, but in every case we have strongly discouraged it and advocated for the use of an alternative education focused video platform, even if that meant choosing one of our education-focused competitors.

YouTube is laser focused on ad revenue and profits which threatens the safety of modern educational environments. Over the past few years, more and more school districts, states, and higher education institutions are placing a higher priority on the security of classroom generated videos. As a result, at Swivl, we have significantly strengthened our own security processes, protocols, and infrastructure to meet the growing stringent demands of our customers and continue to be dedicated to them.

We encourage all schools to abandon YouTube and consider other responsible video platforms (including Swivl Teams) that follow FERPA, COPPA, and other educational security and privacy standards.