You may have noticed some of your favourite YouTube channels have their comments disabled. In addition, some videos appear to be deleted. This is a move by the company in an effort to curb harmful content on the platform. Last year, a viral video showing a suicide victim caused worldwide uproar questioning the company’s content policies. From then, there have been a number of disturbing videos.
The latest controversy surrounding the platform is children being exposed to pedophilic content and suicidal videos. YouTube has a kids-friendly version where they filter out adult content for favourable viewership by children. However, one YouTuber noted that in Youtube’s comment sections, users are directed to sexual videos featuring underage girls. Here’s a video of one user raising concern.
Speaking after the incident, YouTube’s spokesperson said that they had disabled comments on tens of millions of videos containing minors – harmful or not. This is why they disabled the comment section of many family vloggers. Additionally, they terminated over 400 videos that had these comments directing users to child pornography.
Barely a few days after this crackdown, one mother found a suicide tutorial on her child’s YouTube Kids app. While she watched a video with her son, it cut to a cartoon demonstrating how to cut your wrist. This is not an isolated case and many people have reported similar disturbing cartoon illustrations on YouTube Kids. The mom also noted that the video was up for over 6 months without any action from YouTube. Parents raise alarm over suicide tips hidden in YouTube Kids videos.
Other platforms, especially online gaming sites, are no exception to such harmful contents. Children have often expressed how they experience cyberbullying on these platforms some going as far as telling them to “kill themselves”. Such negative and hateful comments could have dangerous effects on children who are prone to harm themselves.
This raises a few concerns about YouTube’s filtering system. If something as a vile video could slip through, what about these subtle and subliminal messages that promote self-harm? How many more videos like this are on the platform? Is YouTube doing enough to protect children from harmful content?
Vigilance is two-way traffic. Parents should closely monitor the content on their children’s devices. Additionally, if users find such disturbing content, they should report the video immediately to make it easier for YouTube to spot them. The more flags a video gets, the higher the chances that it’s taken down. Secondly, talk to your child about such content and let them know what to do when they see such videos. Here are tips on Keeping your children safe online
As for now, all we can do is wait for a long-term solution from the company while playing our part as adults to weed out harmful content.
Though many YouTubers have also suffered as a result, the aim to make a safer environment for children takes precedence over their revenue. We hope that YouTube conducts these crackdowns regularly to avoid a repeat of these kinds of activities.
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