Youtube is reportedly in what many are referring to as crisis mode, yet again.
This past Wednesday, the giant in online video content moved to ban more than 400 channels and chose to disable all comments on another tens of millions of videos. This drastic move was initiated by the fact that many of the services advertising, including AT&T, Nestle and Fortnite are jumping ship and subsequently pulling all their advertising on YouTube.
What caused the drastic measures, and advertisers to pull their ads, was the calling of attention to the growing controversy on YouTube that concerns child exploitation. The weekend before, a Youtuber, Matt Watson, posted a video that went viral. In the video, he walked the viewers through how a simple search on YouTube would quickly show that there are indeed "soft" pedophilia rings making use of the video service.
Watson's video goes into detail, to show just how pedophiles can quickly obtain the material they are looking for. He cited that if you do a search for "bikini hauls," you will be presented with similar content, through the platforms recommendation system. If a user were to click on just one of the recommendations, and that video recommended features a child, the user will then get sucked into what Watson refers to as a "wormhole," as the algorithm that YouTube users will proceed to push content to the viewer repeatedly which will strictly feature children.
Predators take advantage of the content recommendations, by further exploiting children. They will reference time-codes, within the videos comments section, that point out what they considered more preferred scenes for viewing. They take this a step further, by commenting on other sources of that trade and provide child pornography for viewers on other platforms.
When Watson’s video explaining what was going on went viral on Reddit, viewers urged YouTube to step up and take action, by creating the hashtag #YouTubeWakeUp across multiple social media platforms. YouTubes reply stated: “We appreciate you raising awareness of this with your fans, and that you realize all of us at YouTube are working incredibly hard to root out horrible behavior on our platform.”
What really adds insult to injury with the whole situation is that this is not the first time the video service has had to deal with this type of problem. In 2017, YouTube was brought to task for the multiple videos that also contained child exploitation. However, these videos were found mainly on the YouTube kids app and showed to have been specifically targeted at children.
So much so, that these videos would feature character's popular with children in adult, and quite often, in a sexually explicit manner. In response to this particular issue, YouTube completely overhauled their kid's app and put into place new policies for moderation.
So, what’s the verdict—you decide.
Should YouTube have stayed on top of the issue, and discovered that this was going on themselves?