YouTube Bans Children from Livestreaming Amid Pedophilia Concerns

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YouTube is banning children from using its livestream video feature unless an adult is present. The move arrives amid reports that the Google-owned video-sharing platform’s automated recommendation system has been sending videos of children to pedophiles.

YouTube has decided to prohibit children from livestreaming videos on its platform without supervision in an attempt to prevent predators from targeting children while they use the video-sharing platform, according to a recent report by Variety.

The new policy arrives amid a recent report by the New York Times stating that YouTube’s automated recommendation system has been sending videos of “prepubescent, partially clothed children” to users who had a history of watching other videos with similar content.

The report cited an instance in which a mother from Rio de Janeiro was shocked to discover that an innocent video her 10-year-old daughter had uploaded of herself — wearing a bathing suit while playing with a friend in a backyard pool — had garnered up to 400,000 views.

YouTube’s automated recommendation system had reportedly begun showing the child’s video to users who watched other videos of young children wearing similar clothing. The platform’s automated system typically suggests what users should watch next, based on their viewing history.

The social media platform now says that it will be limiting recommendations of videos that depict “minors in risky situations.”

YouTube affirmed in a blog post on Monday that it enforces “a strong set of policies to protect minors” on its platform, “including those that prohibit exploiting minors, encouraging dangerous or inappropriate behaviors, and aggregating videos of minors in potentially exploitative ways.”

“The vast majority of videos featuring minors on YouTube, including those referenced in recent news reports, do not violate our policies and are innocently posted — a family creator providing educational tips, or a parent sharing a proud moment,” added YouTube.

Nonetheless, the video-sharing platform says that it has decided to make “a few updates,” given that the situation involves children.

“We updated enforcement of our live streaming policy to specifically disallow younger minors from live streaming unless they are clearly accompanied by an adult,” said YouTube, “We expanded our efforts from earlier this year around limiting recommendations of borderline content to include videos featuring minors in risky situations.”

YouTube also noted that it has been working with law enforcement investigating crimes against children.

In February, the social media platform had announced it was disabling the ability for users to leave comments on videos featuring minors, after Wired reported that many of the platform’s “videos with tens of millions of views are being inundated with comments by pedophiles, with adverts from major brands running alongside the disturbing content.”

“We disabled comments on tens of millions of videos featuring minors across the platform, to limit the risk of exploitation,” said YouTube.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Twitter at @ARmastrangelo and on Instagram.

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