YouTube turns off comments on videos of children in attempt to silence predators

YouTubeYouTube has begun disabling the comments on the majority of videos featuring children, having already suspended comments on ‘tens of millions’ of videos that could be targeted by paedophiles.

Over the next few months, the video-sharing site will suspend comments on both videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could attract predatory behaviour. Although, a small number of creators will still be able to keep comments on their videos. These creators must actively moderate their comments and demonstrate that there is a low risk of paedophiles commenting.

The move comes after a paedophile ring was discovered on the platform by YouTuber Matt Watson. In what he described as a “wormhole into a softcore paedophile ring”, the group were found to post comments on videos of young girls performing activities – such as gymnastics, dancing, or exercising – and often add time stamps of when underwear is visible in the videos. Furthermore, Watson found that eventually YouTube’s algorithm began automatically recommending videos of young children.

On the back of this, several advertisers, including Fortnite developer Epic Games, Disney, and Nestlé, pulled their ads from the Google-owned video-sharing platform.

In addition to removing the comments from a whole host of videos, YouTube has been working on a new comments classifier to identify and remove predatory comments. According to YouTube, this updated classifier will detect and remove two times more individual comments.

On an equally important note, YouTube has also terminated channels that are guilty being potentially harmful and dangerous to children, such as channels featuring videos that target kids with dangerous challenges.