YouTube is finally taking measures to remove some of the more incendiary and offensive material which has been cropping up on the platform in recent years.
One major talking point has been a rise in the trend of disturbing, bootleg kids videos, which have been algorithmically engineered to crop up in the same playlists as popular cartoons such as Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol. The abundance of these videos has resulted in them permeating the seemingly innocuous playlists which many parents happily allow their children to watch, often unsupervised.
In a move to combat this, YouTube have stated that they will now attempt to curb the “inappropriate use of family entertainment characters,” as outlined by Junpier Downs, YouTube’s director of policy:
“We’re in the process of implementing a new policy that age restricts this content in the YouTube main app when flagged. Age-restricted content is automatically not allowed in YouTube Kids. The YouTube team is made up of parents who are committed to improving our apps and getting this right.”
The move seems to have been highlighted by several, widely-circulated articles, including analyses by AV Club, Romper and, most concerning, a longform essay from James Bridle entitled ‘Something is wrong on the internet‘.
What these stories highlight is a worrying trend in which the unregulated stream of content onto platforms, including those which are aimed specifically at children, is beginning to spiral out of control. While YouTube have stated that they will be taking measures to ensure that the content does not end up on their Kids’ App, it does not mention any removal or censorship of the offending material itself. This raises not only the issue of free speech, but of responsibility, something which is often absent from developments in the tech world.
With the ‘restriction’ of these intentionally disturbing videos, it highlights several worrying aspects of the modern-day internet. Primarily that of the digital environment which is being created for the coming generation.
On a more positive note, YouTube has also announced that it will begin removing videos which promote extremism and terrorism. According to Fortune; ‘Legislation could resemble a German law approved in June to fine social media companies 50 million euros ($57 million) if hateful postings are not promptly removed.’