Published: Sat, March 02, 2019
Money | By Arnold Ball

'Paedophile Ring' Scandal Prompts YouTube to Axe Comments on Videos With Kids

'Paedophile Ring' Scandal Prompts YouTube to Axe Comments on Videos With Kids

YouTube is now blocking users from commenting on nearly all videos that feature children after reports of an organized pedophile ring using the platform's comments section to find and exploit minors. "Nothing is more important to us than ensuring the safety of young people on the platform".

Last week video blogger Matt Watson revealed videos featuring children talking to camera, performing gymnastics or playing with toys are often interpreted in inappropriate ways on YouTube. They will be required to actively moderate their comments and keep predatory content off their video pages.

The report by Wired magazine said that commercials ran alongside offensive videos and comments prompted companies such as food and beverage maker Nestle SA and carrier AT&T Inc to pause advertising on YouTube earlier this week. YouTube will work with them to provide guidance.

"Over the past week, we disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior".

Hess did say that YouTube is faster about pulling questionable videos from YouTube Kids than from regular YouTube.

He also instructed the Department of Internal Affairs to investigate the issue and "get a better understanding of YouTube's response to the issue". Many creators use the comments sections of their videos to interact with their followers, and for some, comments are the most interactive part of their YouTube channels.

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Last week, YouTube faced heavy criticism from content creators after it claimed that "inappropriate comments" left by other users on videos could result in the video becoming demonetized. As documented in his February 17 video, members of what Watson called a "soft-core pedophilia ring" made sexualized comments about the girls tagged with timestamps identifying moments when the kids were in certain poses.

The incident raised fears of a fresh "brand safety" crisis for YouTube, which lost advertisers past year following revelations that messages appeared on channels promoting conspiracy theories, white nationalism and other objectionable content.

YouTube told the BBC it would use algorithms to scan through the millions of hours of footage uploaded to YouTube every day, to detect which videos contained children.

YouTube has removed "certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way", and will continue to take action against anybody violating its policies.

"Knowing this, we can deduce that YouTube is aware these videos exist and that pedophiles are watching them", Watson wrote on Reddit.

A Florida mother said she has found clips on YouTube and YouTube Kids that gave children instructions on how to kill themselves. "But that's not to say that there isn't risk out there, that there aren't videos that are glorifying suicide and that are targeted to kids", Lapowsky said.

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