About time: YouTube is now disabling all comments on videos featuring children
After the recent scandal involving supposedly child-friendly videos, YouTube has released an official statement regarding new safety measures.
YouTube has released an official statement regarding all video content featuring minors. (iStock)

It's the umpteenth time since 2017 that YouTube has landed in hot water for its less-than-perfect online safety measures, and in light of recent events, the video giant has announced the removal of the comments feature on almost all video content featuring minors. 

Last week, Parent24 published a number of articles exposing disturbing trends involving kids content on YouTube, urging parents to be vigilant about what their kids watch (if anything) on the popular video platform. 

Under the guise of child-friendly content, entire channels have been creating shocking videos promoting self-harm and violence or depicting beloved animated characters in a sexual context. 

To read the articles, follow the links below: 

And if that wasn't bad enough, we also told you about another alarming development. 

In Just don't post videos of your kids on YouTube. Here's why, Parent24 reported that child predators were using YouTube as a “soft-core paedophile ring”, sharing links to actual child-porn, and using time-stamps to highlight moments where young girls unknowingly exposed themselves in videos. 

Also see: Parent's guide: Making YouTube safer for your kids

Have you seen any suspicious 'child-friendly' content online? What is your response to the recent hype about wholly unsuitable content aimed at kids? Tell us and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

What's being done? 

It seems it was only after the news of huge losses in advertisement as reported by the BBC.com, that YouTube released an official statement noting the removal of thousands of comments and accounts identified as part of the trend, assuring that the information had been passed on to US reporting center, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, for further legal action. 

In the same statement, YouTube also said that they would be temporarily disabling comments on some, if not all, videos featuring minors. 

Since then, the company has released an additional statement outlining their new and improved security measures, one of the biggest change being the disabling of all comments on videos featuring children under 18. 

"Over the next few months, we will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behaviour," the statement read. 

Those exempt from this new protocol include long-established channels which the video platform will be working alongside to ensure comments are painstakingly moderated. 

Additional measures include an improved comments classifier moderated to "identify and remove predatory comments... [which] will detect and remove 2X more individual comments." 

The termination of accounts deemed as an "attempt to endanger children in any way" was also mentioned. 

Also see: Child experts: Just say 'no' to Facebook's kids app

Is this enough? 

YouTube's current predicament is not a first for the Google-owned company, with an eerily similar incident occurring just two years prior. 

“We are shocked and appalled to see that our adverts have appeared alongside such exploitative and inappropriate content," advertisers Mars told the Guardian in 2017. "We have taken the decision to immediately suspend all our online advertising on YouTube and Google globally. Until we have confidence that appropriate safeguards are in place, we will not advertise on YouTube and Google.” 

Talking to CNN's Richard Quest regarding the 2019 YouTube incident, Palmer Group CEO Shelly Palmer recommended a non-digital approach, calling for the human curation and management of online content. 

"If there was a community manager there, then the community manager could go, 'Hey, this is not appropriate for this environment'," he said when asked for a probed for a possible solution. 

Given the scale of the viewership, this may be complicated, but when it comes to protecting our children, safety measures cannot be entirely left to algorithms and AI. 

Chat back:

Have you seen any suspicious 'child-friendly' content online? What is your response to the recent hype about wholly unsuitable content aimed at kids? Tell us and we could publish your letter. Anonymous contributions are welcome. 

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