YouTube will disable comments on most videos that include kids aged 13 and under after being criticized for not stopping pedophiles from posting suggestive remarks about such videos, the company said Thursday.
YouTube, which belongs to Google, said in a blog post that in the next few months it would suspend comments on videos of young minors – ages 13 and under – and older teens likely risk of attracting predatory behavior.
This initiative is a response to the latest content-related crisis that YouTube faces: a video describing how pedophiles have used child video reviews to guide other predators. After the video highlighting this practice became viral, several companies whose ads appeared in the videos in question announced that they would boycott YouTube.
In general, the videos did not violate YouTube's standards and showed generally innocent behavior, such as girls doing gymnastics or playing Twister. But the comments posted under the videos were overwhelmed by suggestive remarks addressed to the children.
Last week, YouTube said it turned off comments on tens of millions of videos featuring children under 13. The company announced its intention to modify its algorithm over the coming months to create a general policy.
"There has been a lot of concern lately about child safety issues on YouTube," said Susan Wojcicki, CEO of the company, in a Twitter message announcing the move. "Nothing is more important to us than to ensure youth safety on the platform."
The company announced that it would make an exception for a small number of website channels offering content deemed less likely to attract pedophiles, such as toy reading videos; channels will be required to actively moderate comments.
YouTube said it would use a new machine learning system to identify and remove predator comments. The company, which said it was pulling hundreds of millions of video comments every quarter for violating its rules, said the new approach would double the number of comments marked for deletion.
YouTube struggles to follow the sometimes subtle methods of pedophiles to leave suggestive remarks about children's videos.
Rather than making sexually egregious statements, commentators have posted timestamps to steer other people towards moments in videos that may appear compromising when they are paused, such as back or bare legs of a person. a girl. In some cases, the commentators in question simply posted sexually suggestive chains of emojis.