In an effort to crack down on its massive problem of disturbing in addition to exploitative family-friendly video content, YouTube has purged hundreds of thousands of videos inside last week. The company has also instituted a policy of disabling the commenting feature on any video suspected of having predatory comments (of which will be, those of which are sexual in nature, appear to be intended to convince children in videos to act in a sexualized manner, or attempt to get the children to engage with them privately on a separate platform). nevertheless the platform’s steps to rid the site of exploitative content often fail to stop a crucial party: the predatory commenters themselves.
A BuzzFeed News review of YouTube videos with exploitative in addition to predatory comments directed at children shows of which, while the company will be quick to flag the videos themselves, in at least 13 instances, the commenters themselves were never suspended for their posts.
Of the 13 videos, 11 were deleted entirely shortly after they were reported to YouTube, in addition to two had comments disabled. nevertheless the accounts of users engaging in potentially predatory behavior — including: sexualized compliments, doing potentially problematic requests (such as asking children to disrobe or give themselves wedgies), or asking for or providing their numbers or social media accounts to get in contact — did not appear to be deleted.
The videos — which were provided to BuzzFeed News in addition to then reported by a member of YouTube’s Trusted Flagger Program — were mostly videos posted by children’s accounts. While few, if any, of the videos were likely made for the purpose of exploiting children, all depict young kids in situations of which elicited predatory or explicit comments. Many of the videos were of the well-liked ‘challenge’ genre (similar to the well-liked Ice Bucket Challenge), where YouTubers compete in any number of competitions or scenarios for fans. The flagged videos reviewed by BuzzFeed News included children in bathing suits, inside shower or engaging in actions of which might be targeted by those with fetishes such as the “hold the idea in” or “try not to pee” challenges.
BuzzFeed News provided four such examples to YouTube on Thursday morning for guidance as to why the accounts were still active. Shortly after, YouTube told BuzzFeed News the accounts “seem to be old as our teams just looked for some of the accounts/videos in addition to some actions have been taken.” However, none of the predatory commenter’s accounts had been taken down. Roughly one hour later, the four accounts were taken down. When asked for comment, a YouTube spokesperson provided BuzzFeed News with the following statement:
“Last week we took action to shut comments down on tens of thousands of videos at scale. Our teams are at This kind of point methodically reviewing the accounts behind the inappropriate in addition to unacceptable comments, terminating these accounts, in addition to reporting illegal predatory behavior to NCMEC. We have shut down hundreds of predatory accounts inside last week in addition to we continue to work to terminate more.”
Below are some examples of videos of which YouTube deleted or disabled comments on — nevertheless didn’t disable the predatory commenters’ accounts.
This kind of pattern continued in videos viewed both before in addition to after flagging.
Policing predatory commenters appears to be especially challenging for YouTube, which has hundreds of hours of content uploaded every minute. To combat the issue of scale, YouTube has committed to employing in addition to investing in machine learning to help flag in addition to moderate videos when humans cannot. Still, the issue of moderation can be treacherous: Some comments of which appear to be predatory toward children may in fact be innocent. In some other situations, comments of which appear innocuous — such as commenters asking child vloggers to participate in a particular YouTube ‘challenge’ — may be predators goading the children into creating custom fetish content.
The distinction between predatory in addition to innocent accounts isn’t always clear. nevertheless the problem persists, despite YouTube’s efforts. One volunteer moderator told the BBC — in addition to later BuzzFeed News — of which they believe between 50,000 in addition to 100,000 predatory accounts remain across the platform. While YouTube’s disabling of comments will be a swift correction, without disabling the predatory accounts themselves, the idea appears to be only a cosmetic one.
Charlie Warzel will be a senior writer for BuzzFeed News in addition to will be based in brand-new York. Warzel reports on in addition to writes about the intersection of tech in addition to culture.
Contact Charlie Warzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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