YouTube demonizes all videos on Momo


YouTube does not advertise videos about the recent resurgence of the Momo Challenge, even from respected news agencies and commentators of popular creators.

Several news agencies, including CBS, ABC, CNN, Fox, and local affiliates have posted segments on Momo – a viral hoax on a scary Keisuke Aisawa sculpture believed to promote self-harm. These videos are not monetized, and some have warning windows alerting viewers of disturbing content.

YouTube confirmed at The edge that any content featuring Momo violates YouTube 's content – specific advertising guidelines and therefore can not receive ads, including news videos. Some videos, including that of CBS, also have warning screens that appear before the video plays and designate the content as "inappropriate or offensive".

A screen that appears on the Momo video of CBS.
CBS / YouTube

None of the videos that The edge – from authoritative sources to popular YouTube commentators, such as Philip DeFranco – had placed ads on or in front of them. This is something that DeFranco had planned in his own video: joking about whether or not the ads are showing because of the content, then confirmed later in a follow-up tweet.

Momo began as an urban legend imagined in a creepypasta subreddit, but became a global phenomenon in 2018 after an Indonesian newspaper wrote that a 12-year-old girl had committed suicide after having participated in the "Momo Challenge". The kids text a strange number on WhatsApp and then receive instructions to hurt themselves. But many outlets have reported that the challenge seems to be an urban legend that keeps growing.

The hoax around the Momo Challenge "has been perpetuated by local news outlets and scared parents around the world," writes Taylor Lorenz in L & # 39; Atlantic. Many news organizations considered to be among the most influential in the world have posted news segments on YouTube, which has helped to reinforce their fears. The guardian & # 39;Jim Waterson calls media coverage "some of the most irresponsible journalists in the country for ages".

YouTube is in a difficult place right now. Advertisers are already reluctant to continue their advertising campaigns after the controversy surrounding predatory messages appearing in comments on videos featuring children. YouTube has taken aggressive action since the start of the controversy a few weeks ago, including announcing recently that almost all comment sections on videos featuring minors will be removed. Do not show ads on Momo videos – an already complicated story accused of misleading viewers and playing with the worst fears of parents – makes sense.

The latest upsurge of the Momo hoax is based on so-called YouTube videos containing images of Momo inviting children to hurt themselves. YouTube has publicly commented on the situation, tweeting that no one in the community has seen "recent evidence of videos promoting the Momo challenge on YouTube" and recalling that "videos promoting harmful and dangerous challenges are against our policies".

YouTube has also put in place even stricter rules regarding where advertising may appear, to prevent brands from appearing alongside more controversial content. Videos that specifically deal with "content featuring or dealing with sensitive topics or events," such as the Momo Challenge, are not considered ad-friendly. YouTube states that even if this content is "presented for news or documentation purposes", it may not be considered appropriate. Since the Momo Challenge is about suicide, he may not be eligible for advertising.

YouTube is trying to make its platform more user-friendly for families and advertisers in general, tackling a range of issues in recent weeks. The company removed tens of millions of predatory comments and ended more than 400 channels that were posting predatory messages. The company also terminated several channels, including FilthyFrankClips, for inserting disturbing content into children's shows.

The company reiterated that it would continue to take action when creators break the rules in a way detrimental to the community as a whole.

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