YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world. The drama is therefore no stranger. Often, the turmoil is due to the incredible volume of downloaded content, making it impossible to check each video. YouTube had already been called for hosting videos describing cartoon characters inappropriately, but the last episode is a little more scary. YouTuber Matt Watson has revealed a strange and disturbing "wormhole" of pedophiles on the site.
As you probably know, YouTube uses opaque algorithms to determine the type of videos displayed in the recommendation bar. Watson is using a new YouTube account in the video below to illustrate how easy it is to get stuck in this vortex of disturbing behavior. In a few clicks, all the recommendations concern young girls.
Of course, these videos do not contain any obviously illegal content, but the comments are super rude. Posters refer to timestamps in videos that show girls compromising positions out of context, while others only comment on sex. Videos are often re-uploaded to new accounts and get a lot of views. It seems that the signal from these accounts is so powerful that it reveals a major gap in YouTube's algorithm.
A spokesperson responded to the claims in the video.
All content – including comments – endangering minors is obnoxious and we have clear rules banning it on YouTube. We acted immediately by removing accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to the authorities, and disabling comments on tens of millions of videos containing minors. Much remains to be done and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse faster.
Some fragmented videos contain ads, and advertisers associated with this behavior are not satisfied. Until now, companies such as Disney and Nestle have suspended their advertising on YouTube. Other partners would have contacted YouTube for an explanation on the decline. I guess you can add this to the list of issues YouTube needs to address. This usually takes action when advertisers are involved. Until now, YouTube has reportedly disabled comments on millions of videos and ended hundreds of channels.
TLDR: comments disabled on tens of millions of videos. Finished more than 400 channels. Reported illegal comments to the forces of order. pic.twitter.com/zFHFfkX9FD
– Philip DeFranco (@PhillyD) February 21, 2019
YouTube makes more changes
This controversy has kindled a fire under YouTube as few things have been. The blog creators of the site contains an update of the measures taken so far, as well as other upcoming changes. YouTube says that it has removed millions of predatory comments and disabled comments on these videos. In the coming months, YouTube will work to proactively disable comments on videos featuring young minors. Videos featuring older minors who "may be at risk of attracting predatory behavior" will also receive automatic comment blocks. Some channels will be able to keep comments on videos featuring minors, but they will have to engage in moderation.
YouTube also speeds up the deployment of a new comment classifier. This system will be more effective in identifying and suppressing predatory comments on minors. YouTube thinks it can filter out twice as many inappropriate comments on the site. For anything that escapes the reorganized AI, YouTube asks the community to continue reporting the content if necessary.