Following revelations that YouTube is serving up to kids thousands of inappropriate and disturbing videos, the company said it will step up its efforts to prevent children from seeing such content. Once it is age-restricted, it will no longer appear in the YouTube Kids app. Users won't be able to watch such videos unless they are logged into the site and are older than 17.
Back in 2013, when 4K displays were relatively uncommon, YouTube quietly rolled out the "2160p 4K" option for some videos, allowing users to view select content in higher resolution. It's in the process of training its team of moderators, which review videos on its site, to recognize and flag such videos. If a video with recognizable children's characters gets flagged in YouTube's main app, which is much larger than the Kids app, it will be sent to the policy review team.
While the policy is a welcome change for parents anxious about the content their kids may see on a user-generated platform such as YouTube, it appears that the new policy will still rely heavily on algorithms, and on someone spotting the problem content first. While the videos frequently depict popular children's characters, they're typically knockoffs made by obscure or anonymous producers, rather than by the recognized studios that own the rights to the characters. "If you find a video that you think should not be in the app, you can block it and flag it for review". The new policy, which YouTube said has been formulating for a while and is not in direct response to recent reports, should be live within a few weeks. Because both the content on YouTube Kids and the process for weeding out inappropriate content are based on algorithms and keywords, there's a way to game both of those systems in order to ingratiate questionable, inappropriate, or even straight-up harmful content into YouTube Kids.
Back in August, the company rolled out a new policy restricting users from advertising dollars for the inappropriate use of family-friendly characters, such as Elsa and Spider-Man.
"Earlier this year, we updated our policies to make content featuring inappropriate use of family entertainment characters ineligible for monetisation", said Juniper Downs, YouTube's director of policy.
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