Online video sharing platform YouTube was a lot in controversy after it was revealed that comments on its site were being used to organize a child exploitation network. This, as a result, has caused a great deal of public backlash, along with many high-profile companies have pulled their advertisements from the platform, but today YouTube has announced a slew of changes that aim to remedy to the problem. In response to this, YouTube disables comments on most videos featuring kids. This is really great news and also bad for the people who were using the platform’s comments section to find and exploit minors.
A popular YouTube creator, Matt Watson has revealed last week that a glitch was allowing such comments and connections to be shown next to the videos. The news prompted a lot of advertisers to pull their ads. He actually showed that sexual predators were able to use comments to identify non-sexual video content that featured kids and would appeal to pedophiles. In such case, this is an important move to protect children.
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The platform said in a posted message to creators of videos, “We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience,” “At the same time, the important steps we’re sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe”. Earlier, YouTube announced that it had banned 400 users’ accounts and deleted millions of comments in response to the news. But today it’s going further with a sweeping new policy.
In a tweet, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki explained the change: “Recently, there have been some deeply concerning incidents regarding child safety on YouTube. Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of young people on the platform.” Due to this, YouTube came into action by switching off comments on almost all videos featuring under-18s. The move is likely to include videos of toddlers uploaded by parents, as well as short films featuring children by established YouTube stars.
It is important to note that videos of older children and teenagers will typically not have the comments disabled unless a specific video is likely to attract predatory attention. For example, a video of a teenager doing gymnastics and sports sessions.
The company said it expects the change to take several months to fully go into effect on its website and mobile app.
Further Actions by YouTube
In addition to banning comments on videos with children, YouTube also mentioned that it is creating an “even more effective classifier” designed to better identify and remove child-predator comments. The new system is “more sweeping in scope” than YouTube’s previous comment-scanning tool and will detect and remove twice as many individual comments.
Sooner, a select few creators will be offered to work directly with YouTube to keep comments available on content featuring kids. However, they’ll be required to actively moderate comments and must be classified as “low risk of predatory behavior” by the platform itself.