Availability of videos showing children’s characters in violent or sexual scenes will be restricted if reported by viewers.
A recent blog post by writer James Bridle highlighted how YouTube was still being swamped by bizarre and indecent videos aimed at children. The problem of video-makers using popular characters in violent or sexual videos, to frighten children, has been widely reported.
However, the blog post also gave examples of videos aimed at children that were not necessarily violent or sexual but were sinister, “disturbing” or otherwise inappropriate. Often it appeared that the videos had been algorithmically generated to capitalise on popular trends. In one clip, Spiderman and Elsa, from Frozen, fire machine guns.
YouTube says it has already barred such videos from earning advertising money when they are reported by viewers, to try to remove the incentive to produce them. However, many of the videos do not get reported by viewers and continue to carry advertisements.
YouTube has now said it will give such videos an age restriction if they are reported by viewers, so they cannot be viewed by people under 18. Age-restricted videos are blocked from appearing in the YouTube Kids app, which is primarily curated by algorithms. They also cannot be viewed on the YouTube website unless people are logged in with an adult’s account.