YouTube has disabled all comments from its videos featuring young children in order to curb the spread of pedophiles who are using YouTube to trade clips of young girls in states of undress. This issue was first discovered, when Matt Watson, a video blogger, posted a 20-minute clip detailing how comments on YouTube were used to identify certain videos in which young girls were in activities that could be construed as sexually suggestive, such as posing in front of a mirror and doing gymnastics.
Youtube’s content regulation practices have been in the spotlight in recent years. Last week, YouTube received major criticism for recommending videos of minors and allowing pedophiles to comment on these posts, with a specific time stamp of the video of when an exposed private part of the young child was visible. YouTube was also condemned for monetizing these videos allowing advertisements for major brands like Nestle, Fortnite, Disney, Fiat, Fortnite, L’Oreal, Maybelline, etc to be displayed on these videos. Following this news, a large number of companies have suspended their advertising spending from YouTube and refused to do so until YouTube took strong actions.
In the same week, YouTube told Buzzfeed News that it is demonetizing channels that promote anti-vaccination content. YouTube said that this type of content does not align with its policy and called it “dangerous and harmful” content.
Actions taken by YouTube
YouTube said that it will now disable comments worldwide on almost all videos of minors by default. It said the change would take effect over several months. This will include videos featuring young and older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.
They are further introducing new comments classifier powered by machine learning that will identify and remove twice as many predatory comments as the old one. YouTube has also banned videos that encourage harmful and dangerous challenges. “We will continue to take actions on creators who cause egregious harm to the community”, they wrote in a blog post.
“Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of young people on the platform,” said YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki on Twitter.
Recently, there have been some deeply concerning incidents regarding child safety on YouTube. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of young people on the platform. More on the steps we're taking to better protect children & families: https://t.co/5ZYaMrMpsI
— Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) February 28, 2019
Despite her apologetic comments, she was on the receiving end of a brutal backlash with people asking her to resign from the organization.
Can someone please replace Susan? you have done nothing except ruin YouTube. We need someone to take over that actually cares about the platform!
— g8terbyte (@g8terbyte) February 28, 2019
no, just no, and again, no! @YouTube has started turning into crap as of late, we only use it because we almost have to. This change is unacceptable, you can not expect creators to monitor their own comments on every video, its unrealistic, and lazy on your part.
— KamenGamerRetro (@KamenGamerRetro) February 28, 2019
— Spencer Karter (@SpencerKarter) March 1, 2019
The internet is slowly becoming a harmful place for young tweens. Not just Youtube, recently, TikTok, the popular video-sharing app which is a rage among tweens, was accused of illegally collecting personal information from children under 13. It was fined $5.7m by the US Federal Trade Commission. TikTok has now implemented features to accommodate younger US users in a limited, separate app experience that has additional safety and privacy protections. Similar steps have, however, not been implemented across their global operations.