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YouTube Has Heard The Advertisers Message, And is Now Cracking Down on Pedophiles

YouTube says any content, including comments that endangers minors is abhorrent and has clear policies prohibiting this on the platform.

Vishal Mathur | @vishalmathur85

Updated:February 21, 2019, 11:13 AM IST
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YouTube Has Heard The Advertisers Message, And is Now Cracking Down on Pedophiles
YouTube says any content, including comments that endangers minors is abhorrent and has clear policies prohibiting this on the platform.
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The Google owned video platform YouTube is responding after facing an advertiser backlash, for its perceived lack of action against pedophiles who post comments on videos on the platform. It has been reported that Epic Games, the developer of the incredibly popular battle royale game Fortnite, Walt Disney Co., Nestle AG, German packaged food giant Dr. August Oetker KG, Procter & Gamble Co. and AT&T Inc. are some of the advertisers who have pulled their advertising from the platform. The companies have acted, according to a report by Bloomberg, after Vlogger Matt Watson, in a video posted on Feb. 17 on his YouTube channel MattsWhatItIs, detailed how YouTube’s algorithms had a workaround which was being used by pedophiles.

YouTube has since taken action. “Any content, including comments that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We took immediate action by deleting accounts and channels, reporting illegal activity to authorities and disabling violative comments,” said a YouTube spokesperson in a statement to the press. Google has also updated the Community Guidelines about how it will handle content and violations, which it refers to as “strikes”. The new policies are applicable from 25 February and will continue to use the three-strike policy. However, now there will be a set pattern of penalties.

The first strike will result in a one-week freeze on the ability to upload any new content to YouTube, including live streaming, and other channel activities. Strikes will expire after 90 days if there are no further violations. The second strike in any 90-day period will result in a two-week freeze on the ability to upload any new content to YouTube. The third strike in any 90-day period will result in termination of the violating video channel. YouTube will now also have better transparency into why a strike happened and the possible corrective measures, with the option of challenging that decision if the owner of a YouTube channels thinks that the platform made a mistake.

It still remains to be seen how effective the new guidelines are, and if YouTube is able to effectively block and eliminate offensive posts on videos using its smart algorithms.

In his video, Watson had described how certain YouTube users posted sexually suggestive comments on videos of young girls in otherwise fairly harmless videos such as playing sports. There are also instances when Watson described how YouTube users were able to child pornography in the comments section that accompany the videos posted on the platform. These users in question also left time-stamps in the comments to indicate girls in perceived suggestive positions, for fellow pedophiles.

According to the latest figures shared by Google, YouTube has over 1.9 Billion logged-in users every month, and over a billion hours of video is watched on the platform every day, globally.

This isn’t the first time that YouTube has faced a backlash from advertisers. In 2017, certain advertisers including PepsiCo and Walmart pulled advertising from the platform after their advertisements appeared next to videos that were pushing an agenda of racism or extremism.
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