YouTube says it will crack down on freakish videos targeting children

Image screenshot  youtube

Image screenshot youtube

Investigations have found reams of freakish videos depicting children's characters in morbid situations appearing on YouTube and on its children-only app, YouTube Kids.

YouTube has announced a vetting procedure meant to keep disturbing and dark videos aimed at children out of its YouTube Kids app.

YouTube has announced a clampdown on disturbing and inappropriate children's videos, following accusations that the site enabled "infrastructural violence" through the long-run effects of its content recommendation system. Numerous videos have been criticized for containing disturbing, sometimes violent or inappropriate content that is targeted at the platform's youngest viewers.

Recent news stories and blog posts highlighted the underbelly of YouTube Kids, Google's children-friendly version of the wide world of YouTube.

If the human moderator finds that the video isn't suitable for the YouTube Kids app, it will be age-restricted in the main YouTube app. "Age-restricted content is automatically not allowed in YouTube Kids", YouTube director of policy Juniper Downs told the Verge, which first reported the change.

Also, all age-restricted content is not eligible for advertising, which will undoubtedly hit the wallets of the creators making these videos.

The YouTube app and its Kids variant have long had an issue with numerous odd and outright inappropriate videos popping up with keywords that target kids and use family-friendly characters, but YouTube is reportedly planning to start filtering those videos out of the YouTube Kids app by age-restricting them when they're found.

"The YouTube team is made up of parents who are committed to improving our apps and getting this right", the company said in a statement. As for those using the main YouTube app, age-restricted content can not be viewed by anyone not logged into a YouTube account, anyone under the age of 18, or anyone with Restricted Mode turned on. Per the Verge: "YouTube says it has thousands of people working around the clock in different time zones to review flagged content".

YouTube plans to start age-restricting such flagged videos in coming weeks. It's also removing ads from this content. Many videos include dark and disturbing elements, drawing bad press for YouTube when they appear on its supposedly safe YouTube Kids app. Examples include Nickelodeon characters dying in a fiery auto crash and pole-dancing in a strip club, and popular British kids' character Peppa Pig drinking bleach or enduring a horrific visit to the dentist. It says that the fraction of videos on YouTube Kids that were missed by its algorithmic filters and then flagged by users during the last 30 days amounted to just 0.005 percent of videos on the service.

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