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YouTube made a big announcement recently; it is disabling comments on videos that feature minors. This is in response to the discovery of an organized pedophile ring that has been sharing disturbing content.
According to many YouTube content creators, you only have to scroll a little way down the comments to see responses that are sexual in nature, and even links to other sexually-charged content featuring children. Based on this information, advertisers began to flee, and now YouTube is taking action.
YouTube reported that it has now disabled the comment feature on several millions of videos featuring children 13 and under. It will also disable comments on certain videos featuring minors between 13 and 18 over the next few months.
It’s important to note that YouTube is not suspending comments on all videos featuring children. However, those content creators must actively monitor the comments they receive. YouTube is also working on a type of software that is meant to automatically remove any predatory comments. Additionally, the company is terminating viewer accounts that are responsible for posting inappropriate messages, and it is now reporting this behavior to the proper authorities.
“We will begin suspending comments on most videos that feature minors, with the exception of a small number of channels that actively moderate their comments and take additional steps to protect children,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “We understand that comments are an important way creators build and connect with their audiences, we also know that this is the right thing to do to protect the YouTube community.”
You might think that everyone would be on board with these changes; after all, who can disagree with a process designed to keep kids safer and prevent predatory behavior from being shared?
According to some, these changes are causing advertisers—and their checkbooks—to flee YouTube. The creators feel as if they’re the ones being punished for the actions of others, arguing that YouTube has the technology to fix this issue without punishing the site’s content creators.
YouTube does, indeed, have some sophisticated technology. For example, it can predict what videos to suggest to keep you on the site (and the number of comments weighs heavily on a video’s ranking). In fact, the company tracks more than 1,000 different data points to make these predictions.
This technology could likely be leveraged to not only expose the users who are leaving lewd comments but also purge them from the site. Many content creators, therefore, feel that YouTube’s actions to disable comments was just a “knee-jerk” reaction.
On the other hand, there’s a definite need to do something—and to do it quickly. So if this change to temporarilty disable comments helps curb the issue while a true fix is implemented, then that seems like a good place to start.
Check out our article on how to keep your kids safe on YouTube to learn more about best practices for parents.
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