A Florida mother and pediatrician was horrified when she discovered suicide tips spliced into a YouTube video aimed at children. The video was featured on the YouTube Kids app, which is made for children who are eight years old and younger. The video started off by showing clips from the popular Nintendo game Splatoon, but in the middle of the video, another clip was spliced in which featured a man giving children instructions on how to properly slit their wrists.
Dr. Free Hess contacted YouTube to have the video removed, but it kept getting re-uploaded to different channels. Dr. Hess decided to do some research of her own and was shocked by the number of videos she found which contained harmful information.
"I wish I could say that they are isolated incidents but unfortunately I cannot," Hess wrote on her blog, PediMom. "My research has led me into a horrifying world where people create cartoons glorifying dangerous topics and scenarios such self-harm, suicide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and gun violence which includes a simulated school shooting. All of these videos were found on YouTube Kids, a platform that advertises itself to be a safe place for children 8 years old and under."
In one day, Hess said she reported seven different videos to YouTube, all which featured a variety of inappropriate content.
"I had to stop, but I could have kept going," Hess said. "Once you start looking into it, things get darker and weirder. I don't understand how it's not getting caught."
YouTube said that they do their best to remove the videos and rely on "user flagging and smart detection technology" to delete any videos that violate their terms of service.
“Every quarter we remove millions of videos and channels that violate our policies and we remove the majority of these videos before they have any views," Andrea Faville, a spokesperson for the tech company said. "We are always working to improve our systems and to remove violative content more quickly, which is why we report our progress in a quarterly report and give users a dashboard showing the status of videos they've flagged to us.”
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