In an effort to combat child exploitation on its platform, YouTube has banned live streaming by unaccompanied minors. Channels that fail to comply with the new policy may lose their ability to live stream.
YouTube is taking broader measures after several explosive investigative reports revealed a nasty surprise. Today, the New York Times detailed how YouTube’s algorithms can be used by pedophiles to string together innocent home videos. These recommended videos often appeared right after the user has engaged with sexually explicit content.
The latest policy changes at YouTube are designed to combat the platform’s facilitation of communication between pedophiles. Going forward, all comments will be disabled on videos featuring minors. This change is vital because pedophiles were using commented timestamps to reference children in exploitative positions.
YouTuber MattsWhatItIs exposed that problem back in February, bringing massive media attention to the algorithm’s flaws.
The sweeping policy changes also include a change in the way the recommendations algorithm works. YouTube has limited the recommendations algorithm from including videos featuring minors or risky situations. The content itself does not violate existing policy, as it usually depicts children swimming or bathing. But YouTube says it recognizes the risk in allowing total strangers access to that content.
YouTube says the company has been working hard to tackle the issue for more than two years. But child exploitation has been an issue on the platform for years now. Remember Elsagate?
The YouTube algorithm recommended videos that featured cartoon characters in abusive situations to children. YouTube touts the YouTube Kids app as a way that kids can safely engage with videos on the platform, but the explicit videos appeared in that ‘safe space’.
The problem doesn’t seem to be slowing down, even by YouTube’s own admission. In the company’s blog post, YouTube admits that over 800,000 videos were removed for violations of child safety policies.