Are your kids on The Dark Web?
11 October, 2017
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Downright disturbing content is targeting children on YouTube

We’ve recently discovered a disturbing new trend on YouTube that needs to be brought to light immediately.

Hundreds of YouTube channels seem to be gaming the platform (and collecting large paychecks thanks to advertising revenue) by creating disturbing content targeted at children in hopes of gaining lots of views.

Sadly, many have been extremely successful.  

Children make up a large portion of YouTube’s audience. Parents (understandably trusting a multi-billion dollar company NOT to show their children animated hellscapes) often use the service as a quick and easy form of entertainment for their young children. This should be harmless enough. A great deal of fun, educational content can be found there.

But YouTube seems to have grown too big to control. With 1.3 billion users, and 300 hours of unchecked content uploaded every minute, it’s become impossible for the company to moderate itself.

The result? Hundreds of channels have emerged – many with BILLIONS of views – that piggyback off of the success of popular children’s film franchises. But this time, with a twist.

 

 

Peppa Pig, Disney Princesses, Spiderman, The Hulk, My Little Pony, Paw Patrol and many other beloved children’s characters and franchises are found in thousands upon thousands of videos with extremely adult themes. Shock horror, criminal activity, pornographic moments, drug use and even cannibalism to name just a few.

Amputations, pregnancies, injections and other disturbing medical themes are rampantly popular. As are strange sexual fetishes – including bondage, and even more disturbingly, urine and faeces.

Many of these videos have tens of millions of views.

 

 

Due to YouTube’s algorithm, this content is regularly served up to children alongside regular, child friendly content. It seems the algorithm can’t tell the difference, and with no human moderators in sight, these disturbing videos have even leaked into YouTube’s own child friendly app, YouTube Kids.

 

 

It seems that YouTube has grown too big to control. Parents need to understand that this platform cannot be trusted to entertain their children until it is fixed.

What is YouTube doing to fix the problem?

YouTube have made a start on removing the offending channels from their platform. But with such an enormous volume of videos already online, and with such a torrential inpouring of new content everyday, there needs to be a more comprehensive solution made soon.

In attempt to stop these videos by removing the monetary incentive behind them, YouTube have amended their Advertiser-Friendly Guidelines to include the following in their “Content that is not suitable for most advertisers” section:

 

  • Inappropriate use of family entertainment characters: Videos depicting family entertainment characters or content, whether animated or live action, engaged in violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, even if done for comedic or satirical purposes, are not suitable for advertising.

 

This is a step in the right direction – though certainly not a conclusive solution.

All the same, YouTube do seem to be taking this issue very seriously, and are actively looking to end the problem. Let’s hope that this is just the beginning of a much larger crackdown.

What can parents do?

Parents and carers now need to be especially vigilant.

We recommend never leaving children alone with a device. If you do allow them to enjoy some YouTube videos, please watch with them. There is no way of knowing what YouTube’s algorithm will serve up – it’s up to you to moderate.

Secondly, if you do come across any videos of this kind, report and flag them immediately. This will help YouTube to make a start on finally cleaning up some of the absolute garbage on it’s platform.

Finally – and most importantly – make sure to talk to the children in your care about the things they are doing online. Communication is by far the best defense against these sorts of trends. Create an environment of openness about technology and discuss it regularly.

The following is a short collection of just some of the offending channels to watch out for:

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