Video-sharing platform YouTube announced that it has disabled commenting on “tens of millions” of videos featuring children following allegations that pedophiles were exploiting the feature.
On its Creator Blog, YouTube said that in the next few months, it will be “broadening” this action to not only include videos showcasing young minors but older minors as well. The company noted that a small percentage of videos that fit this criterion will be able to keep their commenting feature but their channels will be required to heavily moderate their comment section and keep a low risk of predatory behavior.
The website said of those aforementioned channels, “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.”
YouTube also revealed in the blog that it’s working on a new system to classify at-risk comments—aimed at targeting and deleting twice as many “predatory comments”—and that this won’t affect channels’ monetization.
“We will continue to take action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and creator community. Please continue to flag these to us,” the post concluded.
The Verge reported that YouTube’s announcement comes as several major companies—including Disney, Epic Games, and AT&T—halted their ads on the website following concerns of video comments that were predatory in nature. In a 20-minute video, YouTube user Matt Watson claimed to have located a pedophile ring that would comment on videos of children exercising, dancing, or doing gymnastics—commenting with timestamps of when underwear was visible.
According to The Guardian, he went on to claim that this illicit network was alarmingly easy to access with a new YouTube account and a few clicks
Watson said, “Pedophiles are trading social media contacts; they’re trading links to actual child porn in YouTube comments; they’re trading unlisted videos in secret, and YouTube’s algorithm through some glitch in its programming is facilitating their ability to do this.”
[Featured image: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File]