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YouTube Says It Will Crack Down On Bizarre Videos Targeting Children (theverge.com) 109

"Earlier this week, a report in The New York Times and a blog post on Medium drew a lot of attention to a world of strange and sometimes disturbing YouTube videos aimed at young children," reports The Verge. "The genre [...] makes use of popular characters from family-friendly entertainment, but it's often created with little care, and can quickly stray from innocent themes to scenes of violence or sexuality." YouTube is cracking down and will now age restrict videos that violate its policy. From the report: The first line of defense for YouTube Kids are algorithmic filters. After that, there is a team of humans that review videos which have been flagged. If a video with recognizable children's characters gets flagged in YouTube's main app, which is much larger than the Kids app, it will be sent to the policy review team. YouTube says it has thousands of people working around the clock in different time zones to review flagged content. If the review finds the video is in violation of the new policy, it will be age restricted, automatically blocking it from traveling to the Kids app. YouTube says it typically takes at least a few days for content to make its way from YouTube proper to YouTube Kids, and the hope is that within that window, users will flag anything potentially disturbing to children. YouTube also has a team of volunteer moderators, which it calls Contributors, looking for inappropriate content. YouTube says it will start training its review team on the new policy and it should be live within a few weeks. Along with filtering content out of the Kids app, the new policy will also tweak who can see these videos on YouTube's main service. Flagged content will be age restricted, and users won't be able to see those videos if they're not logged in on accounts registered to users 18 years or older. All age-gated content is also automatically exempt from advertising. That means this new policy could put a squeeze on the booming business of crafting strange kid's content.

YouTube Says It Will Crack Down On Bizarre Videos Targeting Children

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  • by freeze128 ( 544774 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:05PM (#55522847)
    As long as they don't censor "legitimate satire". Sure, keep the poor kids safe from ponies sliding into boxes of nails, but don't unjustly remove Charlie the Unicorn, or anything from Robot Chicken.
    • Re:Fine, but... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Samantha Wright ( 1324923 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @10:44PM (#55523617) Homepage Journal
      RTFA. This is about a specific genre of semi-randomly-generated videos that exist only to extract ad revenue, not edgy MLP memes.
  • "Bizarre" you say? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:07PM (#55522865) Journal

    So Trump's boy-scout speech is a goner.

    • You know your habit of relating anything you possibly can to Trump is a mental illness right?

      At least you can see his public persona is so burned into your brain that it floats to the top of your list of priorities to mention with regularity.

      but you don't know me! This just happened this one time!

      Once is enough because the train of thought leading from 'children's videos' to 'Trump' goes through a narrow passage in a simple situation. In other words, of all the things you could have connected to that possibly could harm children, you choose a very indirect one w

      • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

        You know your habit of relating anything you possibly can to Trump is a mental illness right?

        I have the best Trump writing, believe me! I invented Trump writing and I invented Al Gore. My Yuuuuge crowds and the bigly generals are all telling me how great my Trump writing is.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope they keep this one up

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

  • by Gregory Eschbacher ( 2878609 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @08:26PM (#55522947)

    The problem I have with this approach is that it still relies on a human viewing the video, flagging it (instead of just clicking away quickly), content moderators intervening, etc. During that time, however, more kids could be exposed to these types of videos.

    Instead, for Youtube Kids, it would be better for parents and kids to have a videos go through a proactive approval process before they are shown. Google obviously doesn't want this: They want magic algorithms to avoid having human review every video for scalability and monetary reason. But I think this process is flawed for Youtube Kids (I'm not as concerned about Youtube proper). Google makes money from these videos, but they want essentially zero responsibility for the content.

    Note that there is still room for parody and disturbing videos involving kids characters. I'm fine with that. What these articles are referring to, however, are video creators intentionally gaming the system to get their videos past the Youtube Kids filters in order to get views.

    Google needs to step up and be proactive if they want Youtube Kids to actually be reliable instead of a wild west shitshow of scary content.

    • As you mentioned, proactive costs money, which has to come from somewhere. If you were in charge of YouTube Kids, would you fund proactive review by requiring a valid YouTube Red subscription in order to access the app?

      • You must be kidding. Google is making billions off of ads and selling your (and your kids) data. It is already fully "funded"
        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          Google is making billions off of ads and selling your (and your kids) data.

          But apparently, it has been demonstrated that the "billions off of ads and selling your (and your kids) data" that "Google is making" are insufficient to hire an army of human reviewers to review every minute of video uploaded to YouTube for age appropriateness.

          • It's not insufficient, they just don't want to spend any money or do any work. Google's business model is making zillions merely by existing and sitting there as a middle man, doing stuff defeats the point.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:09PM (#55523185)

      After reading the article and watching some of the videos, I really don't think this is the "problem" that some people are trying to make it into.

      Yes, these videos are very weird. And pointless. And weird.

      But weird, by itself is not particularly harmful.

      What's really happening here is a bunch of people and/or bots cranking out massive amounts of random content with world-salad titles (to make the videos show up in keyword searches), with other bots clicking on the videos to run up the view counts. All for the sole purpose of gaming the system and generating ad revenue for themselves.

      This is even mentioned in the article but quickly glossed over because the author is more interested in pushing a narrative about some vast, dark, secret conspiracy to harm our children.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      They could probably do an AI that would correctly classify most of them. Those videos are targeting toddlers whose parents are letting an iPad do the babysitting, and currently use very specific keywords. Whip out tensor flow and train it on the video content, combine it with keyword matching and I think you could hit 99% accuracy. If those videos have to start varying their keywords, it'll be a lot harder for their target audience to find them.
  • Of course not to get too carried away but kids will make use of the media they are exposed to, to rudely edit for shits and giggles. So kids targeting kids or adults targeting kids and of course the worst of them psychologist working at advertising agencies, manipulating children to steal their pocket money, using peer pressure attacks and devaluing their existence so they need to buy their way out of depression a fabrication created by adults targeting children for profit.

    No matter how bad some of their c

  • Does this mean I will finally have a way to block my children from spending their time following Team 10, Jake Paul, and other related garbage?

    For a while I put in a host entry on their computer to redirect www.youtube.com to 127.0.0.1, but that is a pretty big hammer. They do have legitimate things they watch on Youtube, like tutorials on MIT Scratch and Blender. But this recent craze with you youtubers making crazy amounts of money and influencing kids in negative ways...wish there was a way to block th

    • Are you willing to put in work? You could setup a web proxy that will get the video name or author and optionally return some other random youtube if it matches one of the blacklisted items.

      Just an idea.

      • That's a decent idea, but IMO i have wanted an option to put certain users and videos on a personal blacklist. There have been videos that my non verbal autistic son has come across that start off with Elmo and end up with random hardcore metal and epileptic seizure inducing strobe lights. I can delete them from history but they get recommended again. Be very easy for them to put a 'Don't ever show me this video" or "videos from this user'.

        • And that's just what I'm suggesting. You can now have a personal white or black list of any complexity desired. Would likely require you to make a cert and trust it on client machines that are MITM'd by this proxy. ... I wonder if you could just do this same thing with zscaler and similar services...

  • It's the Bradbury brothers and that one creepy foreign guy. They make almost 100% of creepy content targeted at kids.
  • by itomato ( 91092 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @09:57PM (#55523441)
    No more vintage Sesame Street?
  • So my is severely autistic and loves you tube. There are videos he finds related to elmo or what have you that start innocent and devolve into epilepsy inducing random loud music, screaming, and what not.

    I will delete them from history but they get recommended again.

    Can I just flag a video as 'Never show me this again', would that be so hard?

    • So my is severely autistic and loves you tube. There are videos he finds related to elmo or what have you that start innocent and devolve into epilepsy inducing random loud music, screaming, and what not.

      I will delete them from history but they get recommended again.

      Can I just flag a video as 'Never show me this again', would that be so hard?

      You don't log into youtube.com and you fare better.

      I have a video that saw an influx of viewers (400K+) and have their demographics, much only available if they had logged in.

      • True but on the other hand logging in allows him to save favorite videos and it doesn't really address the issue.

        • True but on the other hand logging in allows him to save favorite videos and it doesn't really address the issue.

          It was a thought, I know you have no history when not logging in, but Google doesn't play stupid and the subject you last perfered is offered.

          Another thought is too far out to suggest, but not to mention :) I have two grandkids. When the need to pacify them arrises, I pull out my cell phone that I've previously transfered cartoons to. It works very well for me, BooBa and Oddbods my buddies (sound not required).

  • by Trax3001BBS ( 2368736 ) on Thursday November 09, 2017 @11:00PM (#55523677) Homepage Journal

    paw patrol babies pretend to commit suicide https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    I saw this one a few days ago, it was the comments that caught me and I'm sure had a lot to do with this crack down.

  • If you don't want ads on your videos, what prevents someone from just marking the video as 18+?
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday November 10, 2017 @07:20AM (#55524975)

    Then it is absolutely trivial to solve. Simply wait two months before paying a dime, put it in your EULA that you don't see a cent if your video is "bizarre" (and I mean not a cent AT ALL, not "from whenever we notice") and you'll see these videos vanish pretty fucking quickly.

    If it's not the video itself that's the goal for these people, like with the terrorists who don't give a fuck whether they make ad revenue with their message from imaginary friends that want you dead, but if they game the system for money, all you have to do is deny them the money and their incentive to make those videos ceases immediately.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com] Because that is probably one of the worst videos I have seen targeting kids.
  • by Matt Bear ( 4514227 ) on Friday November 10, 2017 @11:25AM (#55526223)
    I've seen this stuff first hand and it's kind of shocking. My four year old daughter was watching Frozen or My Little Pony videos on my tablet, I hear screams coming from whatever she's watching so I look, and its a crudely animated parody of My Little Pony where everything is getting killed and full of foul language, it made South Park look tame. It was the kind of stuff 15 year old me would of thought was funny, but not a little girl. So the YouTube thing pretty much ended then and there. She has the run of NetFlix Kids now though.
  • Glad the new people made Google do something about it. You can blame the parents or whatever you want, but the end result is kids who are being exposed to messed up stuff is a problem, and they aren't wise enough to avoid it themselves.

  • Don't we already know this???

He's dead, Jim.

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