The lack of regulation by Youtube to protect children who use the video platform is causing concern for parents and Youtubers.
The controversy concerning child exploration on Youtube became a trending topic in less than 24 hours on other social media such as Twitter.
Even though this situation has been exposed before on the Internet, the hashtag #YoutubeWakeUP received even more attention after February 17 of this year when YouTuber Matt Watson updated the video, “Youtube is facilitating the sexual exploitation of children, and it’s being monetized.”
Watson’s video talks about how the Youtube search algorithm can easily uncover pedophilia rings on the video service, and there is evidence that those videos are being monetized for brands such as McDonald’s, Lysol, Disney, and Reese’s, among others.
The video shows how a Youtube user can, in less than five clicks, or less than 10 minutes, move from a normal, innocent video to very inappropriate content. The algorithm at Youtube will keep providing more videos with this kind of content since that was the last topic searched.
Quickly after a search for “bikini haul,” you can find videos from older women to young girls. Searching brings to the viewer very similar content and eventually becomes a “wormhole,” which happens when you get stuck in one kind of content on Youtube. The content starts to involve children in inappropriate situations, or just a normal video that is sexualized by those individuals. In many of those videos, young girls are wearing a bikini or small clothes.
The comments usually can be found by predators exchanging phone numbers, social media contacts and links to actual child pornography. They also comment with suggestive sexual emojis, and encourage those young girls to make more content such as demonstrating gymnastic or yoga poses, trying clothes on, showing “morning routines” or licking popsicles.
In those videos can be found one of the characteristics of these predators in the comments, which are the timestamps. The timestamps are a comment of a specific time in the video. In this situation, those timestamps mark a position or actions that the are found to be provocative or the minor exposed a little bit too much by accident.
Also alarming is the fact that many of those videos are not on the original channel, as it is believed that predators record and re-upload after Youtube has taken the right measures to avoid exposing children to those situations.
Youtube is still allowing people to see the videos but removing the ability to write comments. This does not make much sense, since this content is attracting the wrong attention they are allowing people to see. More importantly, why is Youtube allowing people under age to open channels and produce content if one of the rules of enrollment is a person must be older than 13?
It shows that Youtube is aware that the unusual behavior exists. In response to the situation, Youtube changed the policy on video related to kids or focused on children.
Also, around 400 channels were banned from the platform, and the comments were disabled on a huge number of videos. Disabling the comments is basically one of Youtube’s ways to ‘protect’ children from inappropriate comments.
Youtube has updated their policy and started to apply a policy of three strikes before a channel or account is deleted from the platform.