Earlier this month, YouTube became the target of criticism from parents and advertisers when it was discovered that hundreds of “kid-friendly” channels were infiltrated with videos featuring children and children’s characters in disturbing and even exploitative situations. YouTube spokespersons assured users that the company was taking measures to crack down on this inappropriate content and, yesterday, YouTube announced that it is in the process of deleting hundreds of thousands of these controversial videos from its site. A YouTube spokesperson told Buzzfeed News that in the last week alone, it had “terminated more than 270 accounts and removed over 150,000 videos from the platform.”
Along with deleting the heinous videos, the Google subsidiary has also begun removing ads from videos that are aimed towards kids despite the troubling and, at times, borderline abusive content. Several companies, including Adidas and Hewlett-Packard, put a hold on advertising on YouTube after discovering their ads were being featured on these disturbing videos.
“Finally, we removed ads from nearly 2 million videos and over 50,000 channels masquerading as family-friendly content,” YouTube said.
YouTube has faced a great deal of disapproval over the last few months thanks to its inability to properly monitor channels that were targeting children with disturbing content. Users will create videos that feature children in problematic and possibly abusive situations while using innocent keywords like Frozen or “learn colors” so that children are more likely to find them. Last week, the popular channel Toy Freaks was shut down after users flagged it for the videos prominently featuring owner Greg Chism’s young daughters dressing as babies and being scared to the point of tears. That channel had more than 8 million subscribers.
As YouTube struggles to assure users its website is safe for kids, many parents are left wondering how they can keep their kids from accidentally stumbling onto these troubling videos. Hopefully, this recent crackdown is a sign of stricter enforcement to come.