YouTube is disabling comments on videos involving children because people are terrible
Sure, treat the symptom not the cause.
YouTube has repeatedly shown that it can’t self-police, with multiple scandals recently. There was the slippery funnel of stacking the recommendation engine with conspiracy theories, stupidly dangerous videos with no regard for public safety, a better-late-than-never attempt to clean up duplicative content that was gaming the ad revenue model, and a blacklisting of popular giveaway platform, Gleam.io.
Those all pale in comparison to this latest round of controversy, where YouTube comments were being used to organize a network of pedophiles. As you can imagine, major advertisers like Epic Games, Grammarly, Disney, Nestlé and L’Oreal have all either yanked their ad spend or are looking into why their adverts were shown on the videos with the skeeviest of comment sections.
The crisis was precipitated by a video from YouTuber Matt Watson, in which he linked YouTube comments to what he described as “a soft-core pedophilia ring.” In it, he demonstrated that the sexual predators were using comments to send out a clarion call to other scumbags, often on videos with non-sexual content. The same recommendation algorithm that kept conspiracy nuts on the site was then perverted to help those predators meet up.
YouTube only cares about money and it shows
YouTube obviously doesn’t care who is watching, or what they’re doing while watching, as long as those ad bucks kept rolling in. Now, advertisers are hurting Team YouTube in the bank balance, spurring YouTube to make the same “tough promises” that it did back in 2017 when a similar report in the media showed that the content flagging system for comments was broken.
There’s a twist this time around, with YouTube enacting a scorched-earth policy, saying they will be disabling the comments section of any video with children in it. In fact, YouTube has gone further, disabling the comments sections of all videos of channels with any percentage of videos with children in it.
(2/2) With regard to the actions that we've taken, even if your video is suitable for advertisers, inappropriate comments could result in your video receiving limited or no ads (yellow icon). Let us know if you have any questions.
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) February 22, 2019
With engagement being the primary driver of earned revenue for most YouTubers, this change has left family-friendly creators up the creek without a paddle. YouTube is turning the screw even further, by saying that the YouTubers that create content are responsible for what gets posted in the comment section. That feels like an abdication of responsibility from YouTube, even as the video platform contributes to parent company Alphabet’s increased earnings.
YouTube in 2008: Here's a feature that lets you flag inappropriate comments and hides comments with too many negative votes
YouTube in 2015: We removed that feature, we'll determine which comments are inappropriate ourselves
YouTube in 2019: fuck you https://t.co/PmBajvO3yb
— DrakenWasp 3 ❄ (@ObsidianWasp) February 23, 2019
With YouTube consistently pointing at its policies to prove that it actually cares about anything other than ad revenue, any changes feel like lip service to the advertisers. They certainly aren’t making changes that benefit the creators who make the content that enable the advertising spend.
YouTube clearly has a big problem on its hands, with no clue how to fix it. Maybe start by kicking off the pedophiles, eh?
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