How could a popular video-sharing website like YouTube not be aware that there are thousands upon thousands of disturbing videos on their platform aimed at depicting children in exploitative situations?
YouTube claims they are aware of the issue and will be working to assure advertisers that the issue will be resolved.
Last week BuzzFeed reported that it had found numerous videos which appear to originate from eastern Europe. Accordingly, these videos picture underage children in revealing clothing and in vulnerable situations.
BuzzFeed indicates that:
“In many instances, they’re restrained with ropes or tape and sometimes crying or in visible distress. In other videos, the children are kidnapped, or made to ‘play doctor’ with an adult. The videos frequently include gross-out themes like injections, eating feces, or needles. Many come from YouTube ‘verified’ channels and have tens of millions of views.”
BuzzFeed indicates that once the videos were brought to YouTube’s attention they were removed.
As someone who utilizes YouTube to broadcast shows on the topics of God, news and politics, my account is routinely stripped of monetization pending a review by YouTube because my shows are deemed “not suitable for most advertisers.”
How is it possible for accounts like those described by BuzzFeed to go unnoticed by the video-sharing giant?
There is also content on YouTubeKid’s platform that some describe as “unsettling and bizarre” videos aimed at children using family-friendly characters. Again, how does this go unnoticed especially when some of these accounts have millions of subscribers and views?
Why did it take another entity to bring these accounts with their exploitative images of children to the attention of YouTube before anything was done about it?
According to YouTube, they have been and will continue to work to weed out inappropriate content on the platform.
YouTube pledges to:
- “Crack down on advertising on videos that feature family entertainment characters engaged in violence. According to YouTube, the company has removed ads on 3 million of these videos since June.
- The site also plans a new initiative to disable all comments on any videos featuring children in exploitative situations. According to YouTube, if a video featuring children begins to populate with inappropriate comments, the site will disable the comment thread for that video.
- The company will also be providing guidance for creators who make family-friendly content in the form of some written instructions.
- Lastly, the company said it would work with child safety experts to continue to identify troubling trends like this one, which the company allowed to thrive on its platform for years. Many of the offending channels were even verified by YouTube — a process that the company says was done automatically as recently as 2016. The company says it has re-evaluated the verification process to add more human oversight.”
Some major advertisers aren’t satisfied with what YouTube is doing to rid their website of the abusive nature of its videos “depicting children in threatening or compromising situations” and are choosing to leave YouTube.
These advertisers see YouTube owner Google and parent company Alphabet Inc., incapable of assuring them that their ads won’t end up on YouTube accounts with inappropriate or offensive content.
Some of the bigger name brand advertisers that have pulled their ads on YouTube are:
“Candy maker Mars Inc., sportswear firm Adidas AG, alcohol giant Diageo PLC and British satellite-TV operator Sky PLC’s Now TV subsidiary.”
YouTube said this week that it has removed ads from 3 million videos under its new policies, and planned to pull ads from another 500,000 videos as it further strengthens its rules.
On it’s official YouTube Blog, YouTube now provides a list of “5 ways we’re toughening our approach to protect families on YouTube and YouTube Kids.”
On Friday, a YouTube spokesman said:
“While we have made significant changes in product, policy, enforcement and controls, we will continue to improve.”
In the meantime, look for YouTube to continue to target accounts with smaller audiences covering benign topics instead of tackling those that need YouTube’s full attention.
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