YouTube shuts down comments on videos with minors amid advertisers fleeing over ‘child porn’ scandal
YouTube has disabled comments under "tens of millions of videos" with children doing innocuous things such as yoga, after an investigation revealed the presence of preying pedophiles and sparked a mass exodus of advertisers.
In a blog post on Thursday, the video-sharing site said it had started closing down comment sections on videos featuring minors "that could be subject to predatory behavior." Such videos number in the "tens of millions," YouTube said, promising to expand the purge "over the next few months."Also on rt.com ‘Soft child-porn’ or honest political debate? Take a guess which one YouTube failed to censor
The Google-owned company said that only "a small number of creators will be able to keep the comments enabled on these types of videos."
The accounts that would be allowed to stay open to user feedback, will have to step up their moderating game and will be required "to demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior." YouTube said that it would directly engage with creators of these high-risk videos.
The platform did not specify the type of content at the center of its newest crackdown apart from noting that it features "young and older minors."
Thursday's update is part the company's ongoing efforts to stop big corporate advertisers from fleeing en masse after a viral exposé revealed how YouTube was inadvertently helping pedophiles thrive on the platform.
It all started with a vlog posted by YouTuber Matt Watson on February 17, in which he lambasted the hands-off approach YouTube allegedly takes on pedophiles by not only allowing them to share timestamps with children in comprising positions, but also automatically suggesting videos with the same type of content.
"I have discovered a wormhole, as I would call it, into a soft-core pedophile ring on YouTube. Here pedophiles are trading social media content, they are providing links to actual child porn," Watson said in the video.
Once you enter into this wormhole, the YouTube algorithm is glitching out to a point that nothing but these videos exist. So that facilitates pedophiles' ability to find this content
The members of this no-so-clandestine ring, Watson said, are openly "trading unlisted videos" and links to actual pornography apparently "through some kind of glitch or error" in the YouTube programming.
Watson took a particular issue with that the videos in question have been monetized by YouTube, with YouTube effectively profiting from the pedophile-generated views by showing ads paid for by corporate giants.
"What this is – it is child exploitation," Watson said. Having racked up over 3 million views, his video was followed by an in-depth investigation by Wired last week. The magazine reported that Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Fortnite, Maybelline, L'Oreal, Grammarly and others ran pre-roll advertisements along these
Following the public outrage, Fortnite, McDonalds, Nestlé, AT&T, Kellogg and other companies removed their ads from YouTube, prompting the video-streaming service to limit monetization of some of the videos that include minors and encourage users to flag the videos by selecting “child abuse" in the reporting tool.
Following the latest policy update on Thursday, Nestle said that it had returned to the platform several days ago, after YouTube announced it was tightening the screws on content featuring minors. While the advertiser boycott is likely to be short-lived, their flight appears to be what had triggered YouTube to eventually take action against child predators in the first place. Reports of a 'pedophile ring' openly functioning inside YouTube have been circulating for years, but the platform had not taken any decisive action.
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