STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

YouTube disables comments on videos of kids following safety concerns

YouTube on Thursday said it has started disabling comments on videos of minors following...

Posted: Mar 1, 2019 9:25 AM

YouTube on Thursday said it has started disabling comments on videos of minors following accusations that the platform aided pedophiles in finding clips of young children.

The company, which is owned by Alphabet, said it has turned off comments on "tens of millions" of videos over the past week that could be subject to "predatory behavior." It will continue to identify such videos over the next few months.

"We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience. At the same time, the important steps we're sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe," the company wrote in a blog post.

Last week, video creator Matt Watson said YouTube's algorithm created a "worm hole" that let pedophiles easily find clips of young children performing activities such as gymnastics or yoga using the website's recommended videos feature. Some users left comments specifying what times minors were seen in "compromising positions."

The revelations caused major companies including AT&T, Nestle and Epic Games to pause their advertising on YouTube. (AT&T is CNN's parent company).

Over the next few months, YouTube says it will widen its efforts to shut off comments on videos featuring young minors under 13, as well as older minors under 18 that could attract "predatory" actions.

A small number of creators will be allowed to keep comments on these types of videos, but the channels must actively moderate their comments and prove the content is low risk. A YouTube spokesperson declined to say which specific accounts or types of creators would be exempt.

"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," the company said in the blog post, referring to creators.

Videos featuring minors are flagged algorithmically through AI. As with any AI-assisted moderation, YouTube's method is likely to be far from perfect because it can be tricky for a computer to accurately determine a person's age. The way they're sitting or standing, or the kind of lighting in a video, may make it harder to determine.

Last April, YouTube announced that AI systems were detecting most of the videos that ended up getting taken down from the site. The company has also used AI to help expert groups like the Internet Watch Foundation identify and report child sexual abuse content online.

YouTube also announced it's working on a more effective tool to help detect and remove two times as many comments from the site.

This isn't the first time the company has said it is prioritizing detrimental comments on its platform. In 2017, CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company was "taking aggressive action on comments, launching new comment moderation tools and in some cases shutting down comments altogether."

At the time, YouTube announced it would hire 10,000 people to clean up offensive videos after backlash including troubling messages seeping through its YouTube Kids platform.

New York Coronavirus Cases

County data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 418928

Reported Deaths: 32756
CountyConfirmedDeaths
New York City22691423563
Suffolk436301998
Nassau435342194
Westchester361071447
Rockland13918674
Orange11127491
Erie8737671
Monroe4868285
Dutchess4582153
Onondaga3535200
Albany2565128
Oneida2117115
Ulster204591
Sullivan148548
Niagara147098
Putnam144463
Broome109469
Schenectady105037
Rensselaer75830
Saratoga74717
Columbia53437
Madison40917
Ontario35534
Warren30433
Orleans29754
Steuben29742
Fulton29124
Greene29018
Genesee2745
Herkimer2684
St. Lawrence2634
Washington25614
Oswego2513
Wayne2493
Chautauqua2449
Tompkins2320
Chenango2126
Tioga19325
Livingston1738
Montgomery1694
Chemung1653
Cattaraugus1646
Cayuga1512
Jefferson1400
Clinton1274
Otsego1155
Wyoming1155
Delaware1044
Cortland940
Seneca863
Allegany781
Schoharie690
Yates567
Essex550
Franklin520
Lewis390
Schuyler220
Hamilton80
Unassigned00
Utica
Overcast
78° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 80°
Oneonta
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 72°
Herkimer
Overcast
78° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 80°
Thendara
Overcast
78° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 80°
WKTV Radar
WKTV Temperatures
WKTV Severe Weather
Click here to learn more about A Healthier Mohawk Valley
Ask EPLC Sweepstakes
Saluting Those Who Are Proud 2 Serve
Senior Send-Off brought to you by Herkimer College
WKTV Golf Card - Under 150 left