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France recently announced a new social media influencer law aimed solely at underage internet stars. Let's dive in.

France’s new child labor laws: Is social media influencer a real job?

France recently announced a new social media influencer law aimed solely at underage internet stars. Whether they’re promoting makeup or toys, the “Exploitation of the image of children on online platforms” bill took over a year to become approved by French parliament and we have all the information below. 

Children’s privacy

Per The Independent, YouTube tried to limit revenue streams for children’s channels to act in accordance with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcici told online users: “nothing is more important than protecting kids and their privacy”. 

Under COPPA, children’s sites cannot collect young user’s information without parental consent and must include clear privacy guidelines. According to the FTC, COPPA is “meant to give parents control over the online collection, use, or disclosure of personal information from children”. 

So where does ad revenue come in? In order to make ad revenue, websites often sell their users’ personal information to advertisers, who then target ads to you based on your information. Under COPPA, if most website users are under thirteen, selling their info to a third party is a no-go – which is why YouTube demonetized a lot of channels with children’s content. 

COPPA for child labor

Introduced by French National Assembly member Bruno Studer, an “exploitation bill” in France was officially born to save social media influencers from a similar problem.

Bruno Studer asserted the online law would be a “pioneer in the nascent industry” of underaged social media influencers. Studer declared that while “Child labor is prohibited in France”, there have always been loopholes when it came to the internet. 

The Independent reported the law was first created in 2019, but was ultimately tabled, meaning it wasn’t voted on. The “Exploitation of the image of children on online platforms” bill was finally passed by the French government on October 6th 2020. 

The bill’s stated purpose

According to the Library of Congress, children aren’t legally allowed to be employed until they turn sixteen in France. However, since social media pays social media influencers through ad revenue, MPs like Studer made a new bill to address the loophole. 

Not being exploited online and in the labor force is outlined in the “rights and liberties” within the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a document including social welfare & protections for minors. 

New procedures

Under the new law, social media influencers under sixteen who earn money through online platforms are covered under child labor laws, whether they create or just post content. Companies & employers who want to hire children under sixteen need to seek permission from local authorities.

According to The Independent, the “exploitation of the image of children on online platforms” bill also covers children’s “right to be forgotten” which means social media influencers’ content can be removed at any time on any online platform by the child’s request. The child and their parents can have full access to their social media content and can remove it when they wish to do so. 

Per the BBC, like child models & actors, any payment for social media influencers under sixteen would need to be placed in a separate bank account for them until the age of sixteen. The “Exploitation” bill will allow child stars to benefit from their earnings when they’re older and more in control of their finances. 

Summing up the stated purpose of the payment clause: it’s to prevent underage social media influencers from blowing their fortune on cookies & trips to Euro Disney – it also keeps “stage mom” parents from taking all their child’s earnings and blowing the dough on themselves. 

Child influencers

The BBC reported forty percent of children fourteen years old and younger watch YouTube on a weekly basis and their viewing can influence what they want for Christmas. Thus, child social media influencers receive money through numerous amounts of advertising & subscribers, whereas YouTube earns money through commercialism.  

Child social media influencers are mostly on TikTok & Instagram but the money is definitely made on video platforms like YouTube. Forbes reported that the highest-paid child social media influencer on YouTube earned $26 million in 2019. 

The child star, Ryan Kajo was the highest paid eight-year-old thanks to his toy review videos on YouTube. Although Ryan may be the star of the show, his parents are definitely involved in his success. 

According to Verge, Ryan Kajo has been a YouTube star since 2015 and since he has started earning a large sum of money, his mother quit her job as a high school chemistry teacher. Ryan’s mother has dedicated her time to Ryan’s YouTube channel “Ryan ToysReview” as it is the most watched channel in the U.S. Although Ryan is incredibly young, he’s earning a massive amount of money. 

The Independent stated that the third-highest paid YouTuber was another child star from Russia named Anastasia Radzinskaya, who was only five years old when she earned approximately $18 million with six channels such as “Like Nastya Vlog” where she goes on mini adventures. According to Business Insider the social media influencer topped other famous YouTubers in 2019 like PewDiePie & Jefree Star. 

The bill’s stated purpose is to provide protection for children who receive an income through various social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Let us know what you think about the Exploitation bill in the comments below! 

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