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YouTube Kids exposed for suggesting drug and gun videos

This is not okay, YouTube.

youtube kids platform
Image: YouTube

The last place on the internet you’d expect to find drugs references or firearms is on YouTube Kids, but that’s exactly what is happening. Tech Transparency Project (TTP) found that these and other inappropriate topics were recommended to children as young as two.

First conceived in 2015 and “built from the ground up with little ones in mind”; YouTube Kids was supposed to be a safe place. Video submissions are screened by both human moderators and artificial intelligence. They’re not doing a good enough job.

TTP found all kinds of objectionable, inappropriate content in the mix of videos on YouTube Kids. Some examples include videos talking about concealing firearms and “encouraging skin bleaching.”

READ MORE: Here are the secret emojis teens are using to buy drugs online

youtube kids video showing gun case
YouTube Kids video show a stealth shelf for concealing a gun (Image: TTP)

READ MORE: YouTube now lets you use your phone as a second screen

There were even videos talking about cocaine and crystal meth, and diet culture. I’m fairly sure we need to show body positivity to two-year-olds; not tell them that they should limit their serving sizes.

Content referencing Breaking Bad kept popping up, including themed cooking shows making fake meth. Minecraft creators also recreated scenes from the show. Even music videos referencing other hard drugs made it into the Kids app.

Other content found by TTP includes videos about skin bleaching, exercise videos emphasizing burning calories, and unboxing videos which lack the required FTC disclosures.

That last point is partly because YouTube Kids doesn’t have a place for video descriptions; where most YouTubers put their disclosures on the main site.

YouTube has removed or age-gated the flagged videos from the Kids app. Let’s hope they can stop these types of content from appearing in the first place.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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