YouTube suspends comments on children's videos


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SAN FRANCISCO >> YouTube announced today that it will disable comments on almost all children's videos, which may affect millions of posts on the site, after pedophiles have left comments inappropriate on harmless videos of children.

The change comes as YouTube grapples with moderate content across its platform as concerns about hate speech, violence and conspiracy theories continue to plague it.

It will take several months for YouTube to disable comments on all videos featuring minors, the company said. The process had already begun last week by disabling comments from tens of millions of videos.

Advertisers such as Fortnite-maker Nestle, AT & T and Epic Games pulled YouTube ads last week after inappropriate comments about the kids were leaked through a popular press review and YouTuber. At least one company, Nestle, was satisfied with YouTube's response and reinstated ads late last week.

A small number of channels featuring videos featuring children will be allowed to leave comments turned on. But they must be known to YouTube and actively monitor comments beyond the standard control tools provided by YouTube.

Deactivating comments on so many videos seems like an "extreme reaction," said Paul Verna, an analyst at eMarketer. But the problem is the safety of children, so it makes sense for YouTube to act quickly, he said.

Comments are not the main focus of the video editing site, but disabling them will likely reduce the experience of many users and video creators, he said.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki acknowledged the concerns expressed today by tweeting: "Nothing is more important to us than ensuring youth safety on the platform."

The company also announced that it has released an updated version of its automated moderation system that should help to identify and remove twice as many inappropriate comments.

YouTube, like Facebook, Twitter and other sites authorizing publication by users, have been facing more and more calls to monitor what appears on their sites and get rid of inappropriate content. Companies all say that they have taken steps to protect users. But the problems keep coming up.

Concerns about comments on YouTube were not even a priority for advertisers and viewers a few weeks ago, Verna said.

"Are you just wondering what's the next thing to do?"

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