YouTube disables comments on videos featuring minors

YouTube on Thursday announced that it will no longer allow people to comment on videos featuring young children after an advertiser boycott over concerns that the platform had enabled a “soft-core pedophile ring.” 

The video-streaming giant in a blog post wrote that it suspended comments on videos featuring “young minors” and those featuring “old minors” that posed a risk of attracting “predatory behavior.” 

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“Over the past week, we disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior,” YouTube wrote. “These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months.” 

According to the blog post, some creators will be allowed to keep comments enabled on videos of children, but they will be held to higher standards.

“These channels will be required to actively moderate their comments, beyond just using our moderation tools, and demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior,” YouTube wrote. “We will work with them directly and our goal is to grow this number over time as our ability to catch violative comments continues to improve.” 

Several major companies in recent weeks pulled advertisements from Google-owned YouTube, citing the platform’s inaction on predatory comments.

The boycott came after YouTuber Matt Watson uploaded a video explaining how YouTube comment sections are used to identify and share exploitative videos of young girls. A group was using the platform to post comments on videos of young girls, referring one another to certain freeze-frames. According to subsequent reports, YouTube’s algorithm led the ring’s members from one video of young girls to the next.

Companies including Nestle, “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, AT&T, Kellogg and others pulled their ads from the platform after it was discovered that those ads were appearing alongside some of the targeted videos.

YouTube on Thursday also wrote that it has also accelerated the launch of an artificial intelligence moderator that “will detect and remove 2X more individual comments.” 

“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,” it wrote. “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,” the post continued. “Please continue to flag these to us.” 

Nestle, in a statement to The Hill, confirmed that it lifted its YouTube boycott four days ago, after Google took actions ensuring “Nestlé advertising standards were met.” 

“Google has now confirmed that expected actions have been fully completed and additional safety measures put in place to help eradicate bad behavior and provide better protection to innocent users and advertisers,” Nestle said in the statement.

AT&T told The Hill that it does not have a comment at this time. Other companies who pulled ads did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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