Published: Sat, November 25, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

YouTube ups crack down efforts on child-exploiting videos

YouTube ups crack down efforts on child-exploiting videos

"In recent months, we've noticed a growing trend around content on YouTube that attempts to pass as family-friendly, but is clearly not", wrote Johanna Wright, YouTube's vice president of product management, in a blog post dated November 22. Videos with popular characters "but containing mature themes or adult humor" will be restricted to adults, she said. Many of these videos were surfacing on YouTube Kids, a version of YouTube that bars age-restricted content. Google's algorithm would then surface the videos in Google's "child-friendly" YouTube Kids app, springing them on unsuspecting children. "While some of these videos may be suitable for adults, others are completely unacceptable", and the company is in the process of removing the content.

In a statement emailed to NBC News, Chism said that YouTube updated its community guidelines on November 16, and later that day the channel was terminated after users flagged the videos on the site's "YouTube Kids" App. Chism said he was unaware his videos were being shown on the app.

Companies like Mars, Lidl and Adidas said they were shocked and appalled that the adverts were displayed alongside exploitative and inappropriate content. YouTube have admitted they need to do more. The media outlet also contacted YouTube regarding some of its verified accounts featuring such videos, each of which allegedly had millions of subscribers.

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As part of the crackdown, YouTube will remove "inappropriate sexual or predatory comments" on videos featuring minors, and will continue to work to take down advertisements on "content depicting family entertainment characters engaged in violent, offensive, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, even if done for comedic or satirical purposes".

BuzzFeed and the New York Times and an online essay by British writer James Bridle pointed out some clips shown on YouTube that were questionable. "When you block a video or channel, you will no longer see that video on the YouTube Kids apps when you are signed in". It also moved to add warnings to extremist videos and prevented comments on them as a way to make the videos harder to find. They also expand on product changes YouTube announced earlier this month.

The paper said YouTube, a unit of Alphabet subsidiary Google, had allowed sexualised imagery of children to be easily searchable and not lived up to promises to better monitor and police its services to protect children. "We need real action", one person said.

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