Plagued By Predators, YouTube Is Disabling Comments On Most Videos Featuring Children

Plagued By Predators, YouTube Is Disabling Comments On Most Videos Featuring Children

Plagued By Predators, YouTube Is Disabling Comments On Most Videos Featuring Children

YouTube said Thursday it will disable user comments on a broad array of videos featuring children to thwart "predatory behavior" after revelations about a glitch exploited for sharing of child pornography.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki acknowledged the concerns Thursday, tweeting, "Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of young people on the platform". "We will be broadening this action to suspend comments on [.] videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior". He showed how by clicking on certain kinds of videos (e.g. bikini clips), a user would be recommended to watch videos with children.

A small number of channels which have videos featuring kids will be allowed to keep comments turned on.

It comes after United Kingdom primary schools warned young children watching Peppa Pig and Fortnite videos on YouTube and social media were targeted by a terrifying online "challenge" game Momo.

YouTube acknowledged the upcoming changes will be dramatic, especially for video creators who specialize in content aimed at children and parents. She said she understands that Google (which owns YouTube) is a business and "they might not have the exact goals that I have, but I do want them to respond better when people report offensive videos, and I want offensive things taken down immediately when reported".

It already started the process last week when it turned off comments from tens of millions of videos.

Comments posted on the videos included messages such as, "You're pretty and your girlfriends are nice too". Critics have also said the issues Watson raised are ones that YouTube and its community have been working for years to address.

Shortly thereafter, YouTube deleted many comments and blocked some accounts and channels showing inappropriate comments.

Even in pledging to take new steps to limit those comments, however, YouTube faced fresh criticism from members of Congress and others who believe YouTube hasn't done enough to deal with the array of troubling, abusive content that long has flourished on the site.

The controversy began earlier this month when YouTuber Matt Watson shared a video that exposed the use of YouTube comments by what he called a "soft-core pedophilia ring". For one, how can YouTube automatically identify whether a video features a child?

YouTube told the BBC it would use algorithms to scan through the millions of hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every day, to detect which videos contained children.

CBC reports that a children's cartoon video was found to have a suicide-related sequence hidden at around the five minute mark - in other words, deliberately buried so as to be inconspicuous. "In the end, that was the trade-off that we made because we felt that we had to make sure protecting children was our number one priority".

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