YouTube is making changes to their practices in an effort to crackdown on videos that exploit children.
The Google-owned company posted a blog Wednesday, explaining the five ways YouTube plans to remove inappropriate videos targeting kids. Recently, reports by Mashable, the New York Times and Buzzfeed have exposed how the platform shows disturbing videos depicting Disney characters and popular super heroes engaging in violent or criminal behavior on the family-friendly YouTube Kids channel.
The children's app is only supposed to show kid-friendly videos but uploaders have been finding ways to get inappropriate content through the filters and fit the videos into the algorithm.
In a scene from a superhero YouTube video, Batman is seen driving a state penitentiary bus and carjacking other superheroes. Another shows Spiderman recklessly driving a bus with other superheroes as passengers as the group gets shot at to the tune of nursery song, "Wheels on the Bus".
A channel called BeepBeep TV has dozens of videos with disturbing content. One video shows Spiderman and Frozen's Elsa and their children-- who are miniature versions of themselves-- crying in prison. The same channel shows Mickey Mouse kidnapping a child and Sleeping Beauty's Maleficent pregnant in a bikini on a beach cuddling up to a shirtless, sleeping Spiderman.
Super Mouse TV depicts a Paw Patrol character being cut in half with a knife, while blood spills from it's mutilated body. The videos have tens of thousands if not millions of views and are labeled as children's videos.
The Buzzfeed investigation found a number of videos-- which appeared to originate in Eastern Europe-- showing children in vulnerable positions, such as tied up and in distress, playing "doctor" with an adult or being kidnapped. Many of the videos show kids covered in fake blood and use shock value factors such as needles and feces. The videos were posted by verified account, Mr. Tisha, and had nearly two million subscribers. It's since been removed from the site.
Parents have expressed anger and shock over the videos on social media. While the videos are a small percentage of the videos on YouTube Kids, the company is finally taking notice.
YouTube detailed five ways the company is approaching the issue to eliminate the horrific videos. The video network said, 50 channels have been terminated and thousands of videos have been removed as a result of expanded enforcement guidelines. The new guidelines include age-restricting content with children's characters engaging in adult behavior, according to the YouTube blog post.
The post also reassured users that the company is still removing ads from videos with family-entertainment characters acting violently or offensively. YouTube has since removed ads from three million videos and plans to crack down on another half a million videos.
YouTube will also be taking a more aggressive stance to remove inappropriate sexual or predatory comments on videos featuring minors and will provide guidance for creators of family-friendly videos. The company is also working with experts to decide what content needs to be removed and what is simply targeted at a different audience. YouTube is doubling the number of Trusted Flaggers for the Kids channel.
YouTube said the changes will take place over the next weeks and months.