YouTube took over the internet in 2005 and over the past 12 years has turned into one of the most popular platforms for creators and viewers. But even though it is a cheesy phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility.” While YouTube has been in the news quite a bit over the past couple of years for changing its algorithms, the “adpocolypse” that has taken over 2017, and accusations that YouTube is choosing favorites for the trending page instead of displaying what is actually trending. Recently though, YouTube has come under fire for its YouTube Kids app.
YouTube Kids allows parents access to family-friendly videos such as movies, songs and episodes of their children’s favorite television shows. This feature keeps kids busy while parents clean, shop, or even take a nap. Recently, parents are having to keep an extra eye on what their young ones are watching. Videos containing child-friendly characters such as Spiderman, Elsa, Peppa Pig and the Paw Patrol pups, are being put in videos containing violence, kidnapping and borderline sexual situations. The creators of these horrendous videos are using the characters kids love. These creators are using relevant “tags” so their videos will pop up in YouTube Kids searches. Some videos are not that bad and show the characters fighting, but some have Elsa getting nails stuck in her fingers and Spiderman sitting on a bunch of tacks. Some of the videos take a more mature path, but I do not want to discuss those. These videos have titles mentioning the character names and describing fun situations. The thumbnails often utilize bright colors.
YouTube policies say any video containing children characters in questionable scenarios or displaying unfavorable behavior will not have monetization on them and can be taken down, but some viewers who are investigating these videos say they have seen multiple ads on them. And with likes and views playing a factor, these channels are making quite a bit of money. This is the main thing that is angering older viewers; since YouTube has changed its policy for the third time this year, videos containing creepy content, explosions, or even a cuss word or two are being demonetized. But videos which show the pups from Paw Patrol being beaten by Peppa Pig are good to go?
What has made people angry isn’t that YouTube is taking these videos down, but that companies who let their ads play on YouTube are the ones getting the monetization taken away or even getting the video taken down altogether. YouTube says they are changing their policy to be more conscious of what kids are watching. Personally, I think they should quit changing policies and take them down themselves. Instead of being more specific in their wording, they should actually do something to get rid of the harmful content.
I do not watch these kinds of videos, mostly because I am a twenty-three-year-old college student, but it angers me all the same. I have a niece and nephew who love all the characters I have mentioned, and they get on YouTube quite a bit. It scares me that they could potentially find some of these videos and start seeing things children their age should never see. Their parents do keep an eye on what they are looking at on YouTube, but they use autoplay, and because of the algorithm, those harmful kid videos will eventually pop up. I hope that YouTube actually takes action against this content instead of rewording its policies.