YouTube to disable comments on videos of children
James R | On 01, Mar 2019
YouTube will disable comments on videos of children, the online giant has announced this week.
Ever since 2017, there have been reports of paedophiles leaving predatory comments on videos featuring under-18s, or using the comments to alert others to the videos. So far, YouTube has disabled comments on these videos, but it is now stepping up those measures to preemptively block all comments. The decision, revealed yesterday, follows several brands, including Hasbro and Nestle, stopping their adverts on YouTube, after more activity on the site emerged.
YouTube has said that the comment ban will take several months to roll out across the site, and that it has additional taken down multiple channels that were “endangering” children.
“We know that many of you have been closely following the actions we’re taking to protect young people on YouTube and are as deeply concerned as we are that we get this right,” said YouTube in a statement. “We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience. At the same time, the important steps we’re sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe. Thank you for your understanding and feedback as we continue our work to protect the YouTube community.”
A small number of creators will be able to keep comments enabled on videos featuring minors or deemed to be potentially attractive to predators. These channels, for people such as known family vloggers, will be required to take extra steps to “actively moderate their comments” and ”demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior”.
YouTube has also been working on a more effective classifier that will identify and remove predatory comments, which it insists “does not affect the monetization” of videos for creators, who may be concerned that a lack of comments and engagement could adversely affect their video rankings.
“No form of content that endangers minors is acceptable on YouTube, which is why we have terminated certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way,” added YouTube. “Videos encouraging harmful and dangerous challenges targeting any audience are also clearly against our policies. We will continue to take action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and creator community. Please continue to flag these to us.”