After an unnervingly long period of time in which its bevy of disturbing, exploitative videos targeted at children went relatively unchecked, YouTube is finally making strides to strengthen their policies and deal with the matter head-on. In the past month, the Google-owned company had been making headlines for a new policy that would put age restrictions on videos that feature "inappropriate use of family entertainment characters." On Monday, November 27, YouTube said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that in the past week, they had "terminated more than 270 accounts and removed over 150,000 videos from the platform."
It also "turned off comments on more than 625,000 videos targeted by child predators. Finally, we removed ads from nearly 2 million videos and over 50,000 channels masquerading as family-friendly content."
This wave of deleted videos and ad removal comes on the heels of the termination of "Toy Freaks," a channel that had 8.53 million subscribers and featured videos of a single dad and his two daughters, Annabelle and Victoria, in various unnerving, downright stomach-turning situations. At the time, a YouTube spokesperson explained in a statement to BuzzFeed the decision to take action on "Toy Freaks": "We take child safety extremely seriously and have clear policies against child endangerment. We recently tightened the enforcement of these policies to tackle content featuring minors where we receive signals that cause concern. It’s not always clear that the uploader of the content intends to break our rules, but we may still remove their videos to help protect viewers, uploaders and children. We’ve terminated the Toy Freaks channel for violation of our policies. We will be conducting a broader review of associated content in conjunction with expert Trusted Flaggers.”
Then, the day before Thanksgiving, YouTube published a blog post addressing the company's dilemma and sharing five ways that they planned to "toughen their approach to protect families on YouTube and YouTube Kids."
It's heartening to see that the company is showing truly solid follow-through on their promises. We can only hope the effort continues.