Saturday, 23 March, 2019

YouTube turning off comments to protect children

An employee holding recording equipment walks past Google's You Tube logo displayed at a company studio in Tokyo An employee holding recording equipment walks past Google's You Tube logo displayed at a company studio in Tokyo
Lloyd Bates | 02 March, 2019, 07:28

YouTube acknowledged that this might affect the way some channels connect with their audience, but its intention and priority is to keep young people safe.

Content creators pointed out to YouTube that they could have their income taken away if trolls, or critics, chose to purposefully leave "inappropriate" comments on their videos.

In addition to disabling comments on videos with kids, YouTube said it is developing an "even more effective classifier" created to better identify and remove child-predator comments.

YouTube said in a statement that it works to make the videos on YouTube Kids family-friendly and takes feedback seriously, according to CNN. "Ticking a box to say they are over thirteen is simply not an approach that scales, when every day, 170,000 new children are going online", he said, citing a statistic from UNICEF. She said she understands that Google (which owns YouTube) is a business and "they might not have the exact goals that I have, but I do want them to respond better when people report offensive videos, and I want offensive things taken down immediately when reported".

The statement said: "Over the past week, we disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behaviour".

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Parents should also look for alternatives to YouTube, such as Kids Netflix, ABC Kids, Amazon Prime and even old-school DVDs. Many creators use the comments sections of their videos to interact with their followers, and for some, comments are the most interactive part of their YouTube channels. The group, discovered by YouTuber Matt Watson, would post comments on videos of young girls doing exercises, dancing, or performing gymnastics, often adding details such as the time stamps at which underwear was visible. It didn't quell fears when YouTube limited the ads running over some videos featuring minors as well.

The incident raised fears of a fresh "brand safety" crisis for YouTube, which lost advertisers past year following revelations that messages appeared on channels promoting conspiracy theories, white nationalism and other objectionable content. But first-time vlogging parents will likely be unable to use the comments section to grow a following.

After Watson posted his video about the problem, YouTube advertisers such as Disney, Nestle, AT&T and Hasbro hit pause on their ad spending, saying they needed to act to protect their brands.

Advertisers began to leave the popular video platform, leading YouTube to shut down comments on millions of accounts.

CBC reports that a children's cartoon video was found to have a suicide-related sequence hidden at around the five minute mark - in other words, deliberately buried so as to be inconspicuous.

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