Protect Your Children from Google: YouTube Marks Horror Videos as ‘For Kids,’ Won’t Let Creators Change Rating

AP Photo/Reed Saxon
AP Photo/Reed Saxon

Google’s hapless content moderation process for YouTube has begun flagging horror videos as “for kids,” cutting off creators from setting the rating of the videos as ages 18 and above. One horror video marked as appropriate for children is a fake government broadcast urging viewers to kill their families after a successful invasion of America.

Ars Technica reports that Google’s content moderation process has made yet another error, this time flagging horror videos as “for kids” and preventing creators from changing the age range to 18 and up. One example comes from the horror series Local58TV, created by Kris Straub.

Sundar Pichai CEO of Google ( Carsten Koall /Getty)

The YouTuber checked his account over the weekend to find that his not-for-kids content was picked up by YouTube’s moderation AI and marked as for kids.

“For Kids” means that the content can be included in the “YouTube Kids” app designed for children which features “safe” curated YouTube videos for younger users. The “Kids” designation means the videos are forced to comply with the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which requires that comments on videos are disabled.

The Local58TV series by Straub consists of nine horror videos popular enough to have its own Wikipedia page. The channel describes itself as “ANALOG HORROR AT 475 MHz. Unsettling shorts in the found footage/VHS aesthetic from Kris Straub.”

The videos are entirely fictional, but one of the most popular videos titled “Contingency,” is designed to look like a public service announcement from the “U.S. Department for the Preservation of American Dignity.” The video is set to a distorted version of the Star-Spangled Banner and declares that America has lost the war and was forced to surrender. The fake U.S. department tells viewers that before the occupiers arrive they can “take America with you” by killing their family and comes with instructions to do so.

The video is very clearly not designed for children and is aimed at intense horror fans, which is why Straub designated the video as 18+. YouTube’s content moderation process automatically flagged one video titled “Show For Children,” as for children, however, the video immediately says “Not For Children” in the description, which the system overlooked. The video was also originally rated as 18+ by Straub.

After the issue was flagged, the “Team YouTube” Twitter account said it was “looking into” the complaint.

This is not the first time that the YouTube Kids app has been at the center of controversy. Breitbart News previously reported that Dr. Free Hess, a pediatrician from Gainesville, Florida was shocked when she discovered a massive collection of shocking and violent content on the YouTube Kids app. Hess flagged as many as a dozen videos in the app which have reportedly since been deleted, but she still worries that the child-focused app could contain other inappropriate videos.

“I found about 10 [videos] very quickly and very easily, but stopped there simply because I wanted to get the blog post out, not because there weren’t more,” Hess said. Hess kept a record of some of the content she discovered by screen recording it and sharing it on her blog, PediMom.com. One video titled  “Monster School: SLENDERMAN HORROR GAME,” features a character enacting a school shooting. This video was hosted on a channel called TellBite, which has over 167,000 subscribers.

Another clip from the YouTube channel Toasty Qween depicts a female character attempting to commit suicide with a knife before her father intervenes in the situation; the video is set to the song “Don’t You Worry Child.” Another video is a parody of the popular adult-themed video game Doki Doki Literature Club; the parody video is titled “Doki! Doki! Rainclouds New End!!!” and features a character narrating a suicide stating: “Why won’t the world let me die?”

Read more at Ars Technica here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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