YouTube accused of ‘violence’ against young children over kids’ content

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প্রকাশিত: ১১:২৫ অপরাহ্ণ, নভেম্বর ৭, ২০১৭ | আপডেট: ১১:২৫:অপরাহ্ণ, নভেম্বর ৭, ২০১৭

YouTube has been accused of “infrastructural violence” against children due to its role in the creation of vast quantities of low-quality, disturbing content aimed at pre-schoolers.

James Bridle, a campaigning technology-focused artist and writer, documented the way the video platform’s algorithmic curation drives enormous amounts of viewers to content made purely to satisfy those algorithms as closely as possible.

Bridle highlights videos with names such as “Peppa Pig Crying at the Dentist Doctor Pull Teeth!” – a pirate Peppa Pig episode in which “she is basically tortured, before turning into a series of Iron Man robots and performing the Learn Colours dance”– and “BURIED ALIVE Outdoor Playground Finger Family Song Nursery Rhymes Animation Education Learning Video”, which is an indescribable mixture of low-quality 3D models of Disney characters, violence, nursery rhymes and surrealism.

He writes: “These videos, wherever they are made, however they come to be made, and whatever their conscious intention (ie to accumulate ad revenue) are feeding upon a system which was consciously intended to show videos to children for profit. The unconsciously-generated, emergent outcomes of that are all over the place.

“What we’re talking about is very young children, effectively from birth, being deliberately targeted with content which will traumatise and disturb them, via networks which are extremely vulnerable to exactly this form of abuse.”

YouTube said in a statement that its main site is explicitly for users aged 13 and up. “We’re always looking to improve the YouTube experience for all our users and we ask our community to flag any video that they believe may violate our community guidelines,” the company said.

“Additionally, several months ago, we updated our advertising policy to clearly indicate that videos depicting family entertainment characters engaged in inappropriate behaviour are not eligible for advertising on YouTube.”

The company hopes that removing the ability to make a profit from such videos will limit the motivation to create them.

Many of the more disturbing videos Bridle highlights are not available on YouTube’s app for children under 13, YouTube Kids. But Bridle emphasises that even some of the largest channels on YouTube are questionable in their own way.

For instance Toy Freaks, the 68th largest channel on YouTube, features the standard nursery rhymes and colour-learning videos, “as well as activities which many, many viewers feel border on abuse and exploitation, if not cross the line entirely, including videos of the children vomiting and in pain.”

Bridle also notes the same problems that make YouTube’s child-focused content disturbing at scale affect much of the rest of the internet. “A huge part of my troubled response to this issue is that I have no idea how[YouTube] can respond without shutting down the service itself, and most systems which resemble it.

“We have built a world which operates at scale, where human oversight is simply impossible, and no manner of inhuman oversight will counter most of the examples.”

The article sparked a strong reaction on social media, with users sharing their own examples of being disturbed by the content being watched by children.

“My five and six-year-old nieces went from surprise eggs (“weird, but OK”) to Toy Freaks (“NO NO OH MY GOD”) in a few weeks and their behaviour started changing immediately,” said one Twitter user. “They started finding it funny to act more bratty or eat in a way that was bordering on violence – smashing excessive amounts of food into their mouths and chomping furiously. As soon as we reached this point, we banned YouTube in the house and now only allow the safety of Netflix kids.”

Another, who requested anonymity, said: “One morning I let my two year old watch some supposedly harmless nursery rhymes on my phone on YouTube, but looking back at my YouTube history terrified me.

“There is some incredibly weird stuff that gets shown via autoplay. It’s nothing violent, or stuff that she would understand, I hope, but it was just off. That was the end of her unsupervised YouTube watching.”

Source: The Guardian