Children's popular characters in inappropriate videos to be banned: YouTube

  • Children's popular characters in inappropriate videos to be banned: YouTube

Children's popular characters in inappropriate videos to be banned: YouTube

These videos typically feature absurd scenarios and content that may mesmerize kids, but may also be wildly inappropriate, such as beloved characters wielding firearms, singing strangely out of place nursery rhymes, or having freakish experiences stemming from eating something.

A recent report by the New York Times and a viral blog post by artist James Bridle called attention to a disturbing trend on YouTube where some explicit and violent videos are slipping through the platform's content filters by using popular children's show characters such as Peppa Pig.

At the moment all content on the app - which is aimed at children between three and 13 - is automatically screened by software before becoming available to underage users.

The company said it would now also give them an age restriction if they are reported by viewers, so they can not be viewed by people under 18.

"Earlier this year, we updated our policies to make content featuring inappropriate use of family entertainment characters ineligible for monetization", said Juniper Downs, YouTube director of policy, in a statement. Since uploaded videos don't appear in the YouTube Kids app for a few days, this procedure should provide enough time for inappropriate content to be flagged. Now, YouTube Kids has allowed parents to report inappropriate videos to the video streaming service, which will then be reviewed by a YouTube policy team.

YouTube admitted last week that "no system is flawless", but while Google may never be able to completely ensure that children will never see inappropriate videos, Bridle said in his blog post on Monday that this stance does not work for YouTube Kids. "Our systems work hard to filter out more mature content from the app".

YouTube is trying to stop children from being tricked into watching horrifying videos, it has said. It has promised to age-restrict content that gets flagged by users.

"Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale", wrote Mr Bridle. Although the inappropriate, knockoff videos depict those characters in lewd, violent, or disturbing scenarios, YouTube often lists them alongside benign official videos from the characters' owners.

YouTube Kids on Friday announced a set of new measures to prevent children from viewing inappropriate videos while at home, even by mistake.

YouTube says it has been working on the age restriction policy change since before it was accused of infrastructural violence against minors.