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YouTube says it will crack down on bizarre videos targeting children (theverge.com)
486 points by artsandsci 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 435 comments

We used to let our 3 y/o watch youtube. She learned lots of things from there which was amazing. Colors, Numbers, the alphabet; all by the time she was 2. I'm not a teacher by any means so it was awesome to see this happen.

Then these weird videos started showing up. We took youtube away for exactly these videos that are mentioned in this link.

These are targeting children and it's sick.

> We used to let our 3 y/o watch youtube. She learned lots of things from there which was amazing. Colors, Numbers, the alphabet; all by the time she was 2. I'm not a teacher by any means so it was awesome to see this happen.

It's entirely possible the videos made this happen, or at least helped, but some kids just develop that stuff crazy-early. My daughter saw little video content before age two, and very little Youtube, but achieved all the same in the same timeframe with only basic work on our part. It was natural for her—she broke a 200-word working vocabulary by 14 months, could already count sets of things under ten, could name most letters of the alphabet, and so on. By age 2 she sounded like your average 4-year-old. Youtube had nothing to do with it, and we barely had anything to do with it. That was just her.

My son, on the other hand...

I recall some research that showed that very young children did not pick up language from watching TV. It required an adult to closely interact with the child to learn language.

That's complete bunk. I was fluent in English by the age of 7-8 entirely from having watched a ton of TCC (a British kids channel) on my own. I'm sure adult aid helps, but it is in no way necessary.

I'm from Sweden btw

I think the original comment applies to one’s first language, as opposed to later languages

That's right, and also to very young children, like 2-4. 7-8 year olds are very different.

Many Europeans told me they learned English from watching TV as children.

Complete bunk is brandishing one's own anectodal evidence to try to invalidate scientific consensus based on a few decades of countless studies.

Seconded. In my case it was The Secret of Monkey Island, Dune II and an insatiable appetite for more digital worlds to escape into - PC Format, Pc Gamer magazines...

Years ago, a friend of mine was thrilled with Sesame Street, because after watching it for a year his daughter learned most of her letters and could count to 10.

I replied that sounded like the most inefficient method of teaching ever devised. Not what he wanted to hear :-)

IINM there are several of these.

Yeah. It's pretty amazing the speeds at which kids learn but seem to "even" up as they get older. My son is doing this completely different than my daughter. At 3, I can barely get my daughter to eat and my son at 7 months flips out if we don't feed him real food when we're eating now.

I know your children are younger, but there is definitely something about school that brings out the lowest-common-denominator in all of us

IIRC, one tidbit broughr up in "The genius factory" was that while preschooling seems to result in accelerated development, any such differences are erased after a few years if school. The conclusion made in that book seemed to be that specialized teaching programmes don't provide long-term benefits, but maybe it's just that a one-size-fits-all schooling system will force more advanced kids to conform to a lower standard...

It's almost as if genetics are king.

This is true although nobody likes to admit this. Intelligence, including specific subfields of intelligence, is highly heritable, explaining about 70% of variance.

It's worth pointing out that heritability only looks at relative contributions within the population under study. If the population under study has a terrible education system, it can be simultaneously true that IQ is highly heritable, and also that the education system could be vastly improved, and also that in a different education system IQ. would not be as heritable.

I find 70% oddly specific. Citation?

0.75 is usual estimate of heritability of IQ. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heritability_of_IQ

Same thing happened to us. My daughter learned a lot from YouTube. Then one day I saw her watching this video of My Little Pony (badly drawn) cutting each other with machetes. The recommendations started including lots of these things. SpongeBob committing suicide and stuff.

She has no access to YouTube anymore, which is a bit sad because again there's a lot of good stuff there.

Same situation here. My daughter sought out phonics and sign language videos, and could count in three languages because of YouTube. It's disappointing and saddening to see it take such a quick turn to a harmful, dangerous place for kids.

Harmful and dangerous?

You don't think small toddlers easily stumbling across disturbing videos of grown men in thongs and Spiderman masks is potentially harmful and dangerous?

Why would it be?

Honestly - the image of grown men in thongs and Spider Man masks is disturbing to adults only in a certain context, you could just as well be describing modern wrestlers, whose content is targeted to slightly older children. But how would a toddler be damaged by it?

Have you seen these videos? Spiderman peeing on Elsa? Come on.

I have seen some of them, but I'm not a toddler.

How would seeing this content actually be harmful to a toddler (1 - ~3 years old?)

I'm not a child psychologist so I may be wrong but I think you need a certain awareness of cultural norms to be disturbed by deviations from those norms, and toddlers might not even recognize what they're looking at, much less know that it's wrong, or why. I suspect these particular videos are more meant to disturb parents than kids.

Having had kids that age a few years back, the idea that a 1-3 year old is ignorant of cultural norms is pretty laughable.

It also concerns me that exposure to this sort of thing might help them form the impression that the behaviors depicted are within the normal range of interaction.

They recognize that they are seeing spiderman pee on elsa. Toddlers and babies are not just pupal stages waiting for hormonal signals to transform into adults.

There is a reason why parent-child interaction is so important in early life. Children imitate adults. They are incredibly impressionable, their brains grow extremely quickly. Yes, you must talk slow and in simple terms to very young children, but they are not just confused idiots who will forget everything they saw when they are older. If you speak with a larger vocabulary, contextually, to a child, they will pick up your vocabulary and they will eventually come to recognize it as having a specific meaning in a specific context.

If a child sees spiderman peeing on elsa, he is either going to be upset and confused, or he is going to take this behavior as normal. This is how socialization works. He is learning from everything he sees.

Agreed and YouTube could do a lot better, my child does not need a library of 30 million videos, I would rather have a well curated whitelist of 10000.

> YouTube says it typically takes at least a few days for content to make its way from YouTube proper to YouTube Kids, and the hope is that within that window, users will flag anything potentially disturbing to children

They’ll use the computing power of a small nation to train their Go-Bot and can instantly identify anything that might belong to Big Content ... but when it comes to basic decency Google throw up their hands.

Yeah, they could solve this problem in a heartbeat by having a mode where you can only look at your subscribed content.

This can even be done without google. In fact, this would require minimal work. For example, Kodi's youtube plugin, which lacks the recommendations and autoplay features (which is a feature in this case), could be easily restricted to only show the "Subscriptions" folder.

On the other hand, a user-maintained curated list of channels for children is not something that unthinkable (think of GitHub model, with pull requests and that sort of thing).

Join both things and you get a better alternative to Youtube Kids for concerned parents. I'm even surprised nobody has done something like this, it would be a nice project.

However, as krapp pointed out, the main argument against limiting to subscribed content would be that it undermines youtube's business model. If such project got a lot of users youtube might start to work against it.

That's one of my favourite ideas to submit whenever people ask for startup ideas :)

I absolutely believe there's a need for curated content for online video.

I'd love a tv-channel-like browsing experience, with seamless switching (maybe some clever caching behind the scenes).

This would not help their business.

This is not about your child, this is about making the most profit through collecting personal data and advertising while keeping the target engaged. you know, google.

I don't get why they can't just implement a way to just show content that you have subscribed to. That way you can exactly control what you let your kid look at.

That would undermine their revenue model. Youtube isn't intended to be a walled garden for children, it's intended to be a viral social platform that targets consumers with advertising (or offers to upgrade to the paid tier) through the lure of content discovery.

I find it difficult to believe Google never knew these videos existed, since they appear to be an entire industry based on copyright infringement and gaming their algorithms, one would expect Google to want to kill them with fire. That they are allowed to proliferate can only mean they serve Google's interest for the site - they drive clicks and views.

Whatever other motives there may be for them (personally, I think they're nothing more sinister than monetizing clickbait) I think it's important to remember that Youtube is a business driven by clickbait, and the design of the site reinforces this everywhere it can.

> That would undermine their revenue model

That makes sense of course. In my mind I thought that doing this wouldn't stop them from running advertisements. But I guess it would undermine recruitment of new content creators.

The safest solution would be to download a list of videos from Youtube and run them locally as a playlist. Of course, that's not a solution that would work for most parents, or Youtube, or content owners, or probably the law. Second best solution would be curating a personal playlist of videos and to make certain children are always watching under supervision. Third best solution would be, ironically, preferring children's television over the internet.

As I understand it, Youtube isn't profitable for Google, and a lot of their decisions wrt their algorithms seem focused on increasingly desperate attempts at wringing some semblance of solvency out of the platform, so I wouldn't expect them to be very willing to work against their interests right now.

Well, there’s also the dodgy adverts that occasionally interrupt the video..

I saw how at my local primary school, kids were happily jumping up and down to a song and suddenly there’s a chocolate advert.

Imo the safest way to let kids browse is walled gardens like Netflix Kids. But that would also be unleashing an entire new addiction.

The ideal scenario is parent supervision, but most parents don’t have enough time/patience to sit with their kids everyday. In fact the iPad is meant to be the new babysitter!

It’s quite a problem, this one is.

They can but they won't. Simply because it goes against their business model.

Besides it is not that hard to download local copies of the videos you want and now you do not even need to be online.

Scientific consensus has been reached for quite a while saying that exposing a 3 y/o child to screens actually impairs his/her personal development and has long term consequences.

Getting your kid off of youtube is probably a good thing.

We've had good luck with Netflix for Kids.

For really young ages, I don't really see letting my kids watch something I haven't previewed, or at least something that I am watching with them and I am able to stop it at a moment's notice.

Even for slightly older kids, a curated platform is always going to be a safer bet than a moderated platform. It seems fairly easy to find good sources of curated content.

And of course there's just making sure they don't spend too much time consuming media in general. It's hard, but the less they watch the easier it is to be picky about introducing new things.

Thanks. It already seemed as if there are not many people left who see it as irresponsible to place kids in front of all YouTube. Even the "good" examples in the article are cheaply produced crap. Also very telling about parenting that they could optimize towards long videos. I remember intense discussions about whether it is ok to let two-year-olds watch the Teletubbies. This nursery rhyme in the article is way below this.

Maybe our overall perception of quality has changed due to being exposed to crap on the internet, and now new parents believe the stuff on YouTube is fine. And they don't remember the whole world of Sesame Street and alike out there anymore.

Exactly this ! Do not let young children unsupervised when online or watching tv or videos.

Yeah. She's only allowed on Netflix now. I've seen Sofia 10,000 times.

I never understood how it was possible for little girls to watch the same movie literally hundreds of times, sometimes twice in one day. Some day science will get around to the real mysteries like this. I think I've tried to erase the memories of torture I survived, hearing Horton Hears a Who played most days for almost a year.

I've heard some plausible theories.

For a young kid, the world is a strange and unpredictable place. Which means "scary" in some sense.

Watching a video (that the kid has seen many times before) is actually comforting. The kid can predict what's going to happen next, and is happy when expectations match reality.

There's possibly something similar going on with people on the autistic end of the spectrum, which may explain why they tend to get upset when taken out of their routine.

Speaking as an adult, the videos that will captivate me to the point of repeatedly rewatching them are specifically the videos that are unfamiliar and weird. Like say Kitty City [1]. My brain can't comprehend the unfamiliar world logic behind the video in just one go; it crave rewatches to better understand what the heck is happening in that scary world.

So my pet theory is that actually the opposite of the above theory is true. Kids rewatch movies that push the boundaries of their reality, in order to gain a better understanding of them. When the novelty wears off they'll move on.

Probably the truth is some combination of both. I wouldn't be surprised if certain times of day, developmental needs kick in and kids want to rewatch movies they don't understand; while other times of day, comfort needs kick in and they just want to see Elsa sing for the 100th time.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jX3iLfcMDCw

Oh yeah. Cyriak, and Blu.


I remember re-reading / looking at things more often than I would do today. That is, a few books I liked a lot. Other than that, new and wild was always appreciated, just not so wild to be scary. But still, protection from overstimulation (and danger) is a really important job of parents, especially for infants, predictability to a degree is important. Vital, even. Too much lack of it puts the baby into survival mode so to speak. This is cobbled together from armchair psychology but I'll just say it anyway, I think a roaring sea of non-sequitur events is just about the worst that could happen to a developing brain, it will have to develop shells instead of being able blossom and keep the ability to be sensitive (while developing the ability to, when needed, protect one's own attention oneself). So I agree, it's probably a combination of both. New input, come to terms with it, integrate it, get comfortable, get hungry, get new input :)

Looks like some pro-Zerg propoganda.

I find rewatching things I still remember the plots of intolerable... when I'm fully awake.

When I'm trying to fall asleep, I will almost always put on an episode of a podcast I've heard 500 times. It's more soothing than one of those ambient-noise apps.

Try the Shipping Forecast. Different every night, but just the same each time.

There's a lot of articles on this, the belief is that children crave predictability so they re-watch movies to the point that they can predict everything that will happen.


Adults crave predictability too; they've just seen enough stuff to be able to predict most of the things one encounters out in society.

But watch a YouTube video of a magic trick, and you'll likely click back and re-watch the critical moment a few times before you've even realized what you're doing. Even if you don't end up understanding what happens, your brain inherently wants to make sure you are entirely clear on what you saw, so it can learn the raw fact that "this is a thing that can happen" and then attempt to reconstruct your mental models and schemas to take that evidence into account.

Kids just need to do that for, well, everything.

Teacher here. Even most teenagers crave predictability (and structure) though they would never admit it or even be aware of it. I imagine it’s much easier to push and test boundaries when you know exactly when and where they are. Easier to “rebel” when you know the time to rebel is from 11:15 to 12 and then you can take a break and go get lunch.

This is both hilarious and enlightening.

Thank you.

> Adults crave predictability too ...

That alone explains pop music success.

I've read somewhere (forget where) that the key to successful pop music is the slight unpredictability of new songs. That new hit song is mostly familiar… but just unfamiliar enough that you need to re-listen to it 100 times to really wrap your head around it.

This question comes up very often on Reddit. Here's a good answer I read recently: https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/6d22mv/e...

> Young children love repetition, whether it's watching a video or listening to song lyrics, because it's the best way for them to acquire and master new skills. In order to learn something well, children this age practice it until they get it right, hence the repeated watching.

I remember watching Dumbo (with the Lambert The Sheepish Lion Pre-Show) off a broken cassette repeatedly. I have a very distinct memory of somehow hoping this time things would turn out differently. Like thinking OK, the mother elephant could just trample the guys this time. Nowadays I do not enjoy watching things a second time until I've really forgotten them, and only then if I'm introducing someone new to something great.

Centuries ago this was how oral histories were learned, repetition by the speaker and the listener.

Oral tradition must provide some survival benefits to be supported by instinct and genetics. My guess is today people only talk about oral history WRT obscure history or religion whereas when it was current technology, oral history was probably used mostly to store hunting and gathering data.

I don't remember where I read this anymore, but it seemed as plausible as any other explanation: as adults, most things are familiar, so we seek out novelty. To children, almost everything is novel, so they seek out familiarity instead.

Little kids have bad memory. That is factor too - it is more interesting to them cause they see something "new" they don't remember each time.

Absolutely, or rather, memory isn’t fully formed. There were movies I watched dozens of times as a kid. At the time I could repeat every word of the dialogue and songs, but I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about, so it was always enjoyable to see it play out.

There was a line at the end of some Muppets movie I would watch over and over, as the credits rolled—some nudge to parents like “I bet you wish you were watching this for the first time!”

Why would someone downvoted this? It is true if you know children and it is apolitical.

Simply enough: dopamine.

This is an enjoyable experience for them, it is actually designed to be. This is how you sell tie-ins and make profit, the younger you get them the deeper they're caught in.

The side effect is that it is destroying their attention and impairs their self-development and cognition.

Also the human brain is a sucker for a good story, before screens and videos, kids were addicted to bedtime storytelling and could ask being told the same story a lot of times.

We can listen to the same music hundreds of times. If you go for a bar for over an hour you'll likely hear the same hit songs on repeat. Lots of parallels.

I find that annoying too though

What does the child's gender have to do with it?

Parent probably has a little girl (or girls) and is innocently describing their direct experience. I wouldn't read much into that.

I was thinking about the same, but then realized I'm doing the same. I have watched some comedy clips on YouTube over and over (think Fast Show, Monty Python) and still enjoy them even though I know exactly what to expect.

The PBS kids website/app is also a good option. The kids can only watch a limited range of PBS shoes that are child friendly (everything from Sesame Street to SciGirls).

My 3 year old loves excavator and robot videos. Suddenly all this strange videos were recommended. Search "bad baby" to see what I mean. They also pop up in youtube for kids and they have thousands of views, unbelievable!

I did a search for "mickey mouse" and found a bunch. Two of them, Super Mickey TV and Kids Toon TV, have been up since 2009 and gotten over 350M views combined.



I don't know about 3 year olds but parking infants in front of "educational" videos does the opposite: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1650352,0...

incidentally, I have a similar opinion on school.

There's a difference between "opinions" and "facts."

you have a similar opinion on the specific broken school system you have in mind. Not all school systems are broken by design and aim at shoehorning kids in a mental mould to have them integrate the system society wants them to be a part of.


Those color learning videos were also targeting children, no?

I presume there's something bad about the new videos but it's not obvious for the rest of us.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised if this wound up being some ML grad student's channel who was playing around with generating audiovisual content. If it started getting picked up by big algorithms and making money...

Although actually, huh. Maybe it's a little more organized and is just a general memetic malware scam; con youtube's algorithms into putting your junk which was generated in 0.4 seconds onto a few million screens and pocket the ad revenue.

The point is, it might not be any more malicious than anything else that advertisers do on a daily basis, if they were just auto-tweaking the videos to optimize for revenue and hey, presto, colorful crap topped the list. After all, it's just an impartial algorithm.

Kinda makes you think about all the other stuff we happily let advertisers get away with, huh?

Correct. I don't see this as different than content farms that generate low-quality webpages to monetize with ads.

I think the real issue is that online advertising platforms are allowing this to happen and charging advertisers for it (even though these views/clicks are often not valid – whether they're people who click a fake 'Download' by mistake or kids under 13).

I suspect that, at this point, it's a number of overlapping phenomena.

I remember some time ago watching a video discussing weird flash games and videos with the same sort of pain-and-comfort themes that some of these videos have, also including Disney and other licensed characters, and also the oddly repetitious and low quality "children's videos" related to (and possibly spun off of) toys (lacking violent or otherwise disturbing content,) likely just attempts at clickbait. These would pop up in compilations of "weird Youtube channels" from time to time, no doubt driving traffic to their channels, and making them aware of their potential virality.

So it may be impossible to know, at this point, what the reality is behind this content because a lot of it may well be attempts to cash in on a meme.

There's a subreddit about this called /r/ElsaGate. Some of them feel there's a more sinister meaning to some of the content of these strange videos, like here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ElsaGate/comments/6t754b/thank_you/

Wow, sheesh. That's terrifying, but it makes a whole lot more sense than my pet theory, was that the videos were screening tools for state actors. They would seed YouTube with videos of beloved characters undergoing suffering and violence, and then use analytics to determine who kept watching. The kids who got squicked out would be collateral damage, but the ones who kept watching would be identified as potentially useful psychopaths, and approached to be recruited into black-ops assassination programs from an early age.

To be honest I'm not sure what's worse -- that or the child molester angle.

It sounds to me like your perspective may be skewed by having watched too many Hollywood action movies.

Or read too many HN stories about Russian agents of influence.

That subreddit seems more heavily focussed on 'bible code' style inference of hidden messages and conspiracies than the actual market forces driving these videos, and hence ignoring the real problem, youtubes perverse incentive structure.

In a world with private key encryption, sending a message on a weird video on youtube via antiquated cyphers seems less plausible than bot generated comments from a lexicon that increase a videos profitability.

If I was to infer a conspiracy, it would be that the some people are putting easily deciphered insidious messages on the videos purely for their own entertainment. The videos themselves are a simple cash grab, some of which are very weird and those are the ones we end up discussing.

holy shit, as a father of young children this made me extemely uncomfortable.

Do what I do: if you can't watch it with them, download known safe videos via youtube-DL and only let them watch local copies.

This works until they should be old enough to know about strange and stupid content.

What I find interesting is when you have parental controls on, and your playing a kids video, the advertisements are not something a kid should be shown.


My kid was watching an official kids channel inside the YouTube Kids app (I honestly don't remember which, but it was affiliated with a local TV channel). I have the parental control settings configured - and I had to snatch it off him when I saw a red band title card come up in the ad break. Turned out it was for the IT remake.

Couldn't believe it, but lesson learned. This needs serious work.

My kids get to learn about living with HIV almost every time we watch Peppa Pig with a 3+ minute long commercial of monologues with people suffering from HIV. Also one time we got an American conservative extremist group video ad railing against transgender rights. And violent video game ads all the time.

I signed up for YouTube Red for a free month of no commercials and it was great. I'm wondering if maybe YouTube is doing this to nudge parents into signing up for their premium service to avoids disturbing ads during kid viewing time. $10/month really isn't that bad and I'm considering just having it part my monthly digital fee schedule.

Maybe get a VPN to a small country.

As an English speaker in Denmark, half the adverts I see on YouTube are from the same company, offering English writing review. Others are either luxury cars or in Danish (broadband, holidays). I don't think it would be Denmark's style to have an HIV thing on YouTube.

We can be pretty aggressive with that kind of thing too. Remember "ulandskalenderen" on TV?

For those who don't know, it was a TV documentary series that would air everyday between the 1st and 24th of december, and would typically follow a child worker in the 3rd world. Boys working in mines. It was shown during the kids programming on national TV. I distinctly remember the story of a young girl who weaved carpets for a living and was about to loose her job because her boss thought her new born baby took too much of her time - a baby he was the father of!

I too feel like their violent ads (Australian WorkSafe ads are the stuff of nightmares for a child) are a way to force me to subscribe to Red. And that's even with YouTube for kids.

How on earth can parents willingly expose their children to any kind of advertisement is beyond me. Adblocking is a must. Especially at such young age, you should know and control all manipulative media your kid consumes.

In my jurisdiction, any and all advertisement aimed at children is illegal, full stop. It continuously amazes me that this is not the norm in the rest of the world.

Whereas in my jurisdiction (USA), corporate media conglomerates employ PhD trained child psychologists who research the exact pattern and timing of flashes and other stimuli to catch an iron grip on a child's attention.

Our children do not stand a chance.


>Our children do not stand a chance.

They do but it requires the parents ban any and all media with advertising.

I second that, and would like to bold caps scream IT REQUIRES PARENTS!

Sometimes I think that if speach was truly, literally unlimited and free (beer & otherwise) the problem wouldn’t be Nazis, hate speech, or trolling, but advertising and spam overwhelming everything else.

Imagine grey market viagra emails stomping on human cukture, forever.

Nor our adults, now.

I find myself uncomfortably watching the threshold of will power and competence to use the internet safely creeping up slowly, but very steadily over time.

Sometimes I use a browser in a context where I have my ad-blocking shields down (someone else's system, a browser after an upgrade briefly trashes my config), and it's disturbing to me that despite being fully armed with HN-grade world-weary cynicism and the fact that I've been online for coming up on 25-ish years now (starting with BBSes before I could get on the Internet proper), that Taboola crap still sometimes takes conscious effort to not click on it, because it's that good. Goodness help me if they were any good at delivering what those articles promised, because what usually saves me is remembering that it's just straight up a lie. To be clear, this is still a sub-second process in my head, but it still disturbs me that they can get even that far.

I have two children, 9 and 6. I find myself wondering how long it's going to be before I can trust them on the Internet at all; is the necessary competence receding at a rate greater than one year per year? Ten years ago I would have confidently said "no", and my primary threat model would have been "don't do stupid things that get you computer viruses". Now it's ads, and this sort of crap.

By HN-comment standards this my reply is probably useless. But as a human being to another (who also has kids), well put. And creepy - I wonder the same.

Nor our adults, in 15-20 years

Where is your jurisdiction?

Sweden, but on closer inspection it seems I was mistaken. There are, however, very strict rules:

• No junk mail addressed to anyone under 16 years of age.

• No TV advertisements directed towards, or meant to catch the attention of, anyone under 12 years of age. Additionally, in TV shows aimed at children below 12, there can be:

1. No commercials preceding or following the program, nor any commercial breaks in the program itself.

2. No product placements of any kind.

• People or characters from TV shows aimed at children below 12 are not allowed to do any product endorsements, in any context.

• All the above rules for TV shows also apply to the internet.

• Commercials aimed at anyone under 18 are not allowed to directly instruct the child to buy, or to ask anyone else to buy, the product.

• Commercials aimed at anyone under 18 can not be disguised as anything else; it must be clear that it is a commercial and nothing else. This includes in-app advertisements, which are therefore not allowed.

Source: https://www.konsumentverket.se/for-foretag/marknadsforing/re...

Out of curiosity, when no commercialization of childrens' shows is allowed, what is the financial incentive for the creators? Are the channels purchased and/or part of a subscription? Is there government funding? Do children shows suffer from lower quality of effort than adult shows since they are likely to make less money for the creators? All of that is probably fine, I am just curious as an outsider.

Creators are not paid by advertisements, they're paid by the channel that broadcasts. Either the channel will be subscription based, publicly funded, or are doing something like placing the children's content directly before adult content such as a news program.

In the case of Sweden there's a TV license funded broadcaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sveriges_Television

>> People or characters from TV shows aimed at children below 12 are not allowed to do any product endorsements, in any context.

I wonder how this is handled when the ad context is implicit. Isn't Spiderman's image, for example, always an implied advertisement for Marvel, his movies, action figures, and whatever cereal box he is appearing on this month.

I'm from The Netherlands, and I can't say for certain, but I can't remember a product being sold at a grocery store that had characters from a children's TV show/movie on the label to try and sell it.

Cereal is less of an issue in the first place (that's a very US thing, didn't even know it existed till I moved to the US when I was 10), but you just don't find brands associating themselves with characters from movies/tv shows.

The closes you get it Sinterklaas/Zwarte Piet on seasonal items and Santa Claus.

Action figures are something you have to get at a specific toy store. Large "super store" like WalMart/Target/others don't really exist. I can't go buy a couch at Albert Heijn. I don't go buy a TV at Aldi. In the US however going to Walmart for electronics is as normal as going to get groceries.

"I'm from The Netherlands, and I can't say for certain, but I can't remember a product being sold at a grocery store that had characters from a children's TV show/movie on the label to try and sell it"

What? You mustn't have any children. There is cereal of Frozen and Moana here, Paw Patrol sprinkles, k3 stuff (forgot which), there's various franchise stuff in the dairy section, ... That's not even counting the non-food section in supermarkets. Next time you're at albert heijn, take a good look around.

Here's the cereal shelf of one of the larger supermarkets in the city centre of Copenhagen (still a fairly small supermarket).

Kellogs' products are on the bottom, only two boxes have child-appealing designs.

There was nothing worth photographing in the dairy section. One product was designed for children (cheese stick thing). A chocolate milkshake had a cartoon logo, but it has probably had that logo since 1950.


Wasn't that way when I was a kid...

>Large "super store" like WalMart/Target/others don't really exist. I can't go buy a couch at Albert Heijn. I don't go buy a TV at Aldi. In the US however going to Walmart for electronics is as normal as going to get grocerie

You don’t get a TV at Aldi in the US either, and many (most?) Walmart stores don’t sell groceries

It's not implicit, cobranding just usually doesn't use words.

Does "No product placements of any kind" apply to animated shows that are themselves placing a product? Do they not have shows like Pokemon, Bionicle or Transformers in Sweden?

It's funny that the TV ad part has the "meant to catch the attention of" clause, but the junk mail part doesn't. So you could likely send a house flyers, or catalogues addressed to "homeowner" or whatever, of exclusively kids' toys, and that'd be fine.

How about sugary foods in the supermarket, advertised with e.g. superheroes or idols on the packaging?

I’m guessing that those characters then are not deemed to be from media aimed at children younger than 12.

Sweden ?

RIGHT. People complaining about these bizarre violent videos but they'll sit their kids in front of mind control all day.

Don't know why you got downvoted, have an upvote

Probably because the people complaining are not the same ones who are leaving their kids unattended with these videos. This thread is full of parents saying that they banned youtube for their child because these algorithmic videos have began to fill all youtube searches for kids.

I think it's more of a "why did bots and inattentive parents fuck it up for the rest of us."

>I think it's more of a "why did bots and inattentive parents fuck it up for the rest of us."

The main complaint is that Youtube Kids (an explicitly kid-friendly subset of youtube, with its own app and parental controls) is being targeted in this way. I assume "the rest of us" are not generally using this version of youtube.

"The rest of us" parents, not "the rest of us" people.

Enough with the victim blaming. I think this is a serious problem and I don't have any children to leave unattended.

I'm pretty convinced the victim here is the children and the perpertrators are the parents.

Think about it: scientific consensus is pretty clear that the content makes no difference there should be no exposure to any kind of screen for kids under 6, then maybe a tiny bit until 10-12.

I assume that comment got down-voted for making a broad generalization about a huge numbers of strangers without any supporting evidence. And also for just sounding kind of like an asshole.

I'm guessing your assumptions get you riled up fairly often?


I don't remember seeing "whomever" before, so I hope you don't mind me trying to understand where it is used.

I see that it is used for the object of a verb, and whoever for the subject of a verb, but I am a bit confused here, because here it is the object of "downvote", but the subject of "doubts", so I am confused.

In the sentence "I will look at whomever Bob greets.", I think I understand why it is "whomever", and in the sentence "Whoever enters the room next, they will encounter a surprise.", I think I understand why it is "whoever" and not "whomever", but in the case of your sentence, I don't know what the rule is.

Could you (or anyone else) please explain it to me?

It's an interesting corner case. I believe it's "I will look at whomever Bob greets." (as you note) and "I will look at whoever greets Bob." The object of the preposition is the phrase "whoever greets Bob," so subject-to-a-verb wins.

Thank you!

According to [0], it seems that "whoever" would be correct here.

> Rule 1. The presence of whoever or whomever indicates a dependent clause. Use whoever or whomever to agree with the verb in that dependent clause, regardless of the rest of the sentence.

> Examples:

> Give it to whoever/whomever asks for it first.

> He asks for it first. Therefore, whoever is correct.

[0]: http://www.grammarbook.com/grammar/whoever.asp

Try substituting him for whom and he for who. That'll see you through most of the time.

I'll go out on a limb and guess you don't have kids, right?

It's more "I haven't been able to do laundry/dishes in days and 30 minutes of Sesame Street videos won't hurt".

Unfortunately, decent adblock on Android requires root, which most can't have, and most of those who can would still need to unlock the bootloader, flash recovery, flash supersu, install fdroid, and install adblock. That leaves us with a very small subset of users that can use adblock.

This problem is exasperated by the fact that phones/tablets are particularly well-suited to, and popular with, young children. Children like to carry things around.

I have no idea what you are talking about.

I have installed a ublock origins on a few dozens of android devices of all kind and it always works like a charm.

uBlock Origin seems to work fine on Android Firefox.

I forgot about that. You can, in fact, use firefox with adblock on android, so long as adblock is distributed with the app itself.

Unfortunately though, it does not work globally.

You can setup a DNS proxy with the android sdk (no root), I thought.

You mean like TV ads, billboards, bumper stickers, magazines, newspapers, NPR sponsors, ....

Just because it is ubiquitous doesn't mean that it shouldn't be railed against.

Yes, indeed. Like in São Paulo.

Now we have ads on bus stops and digital clocks.

Which seems really ironic with "adgate" going on where YouTube demonetizes videos with the message "not suitable for all advertisers". Seems like all advertisers aren't suitable for all videos...

It reminds me of the surprisingly-high proportion of content available without subtitles/captions. It's 2017 and plenty of people are deaf, and yet the BBC, Netflix, Amazon, etc. regularly pretend this section of their audience doesn't exist.

My guess is that is an instance of poor diversity within the team that set the early direction for YouTube. Maybe a team with a higher proportion of parents respresented might have made different decisions.

I'm not sure what you mean? Netflix got sued for not following the ADA over that exact issue, and it looks like they came into compliance years ago after settling and landing on a captioning framework with the National Association for the Deaf.


I regularly find stuff on Netflix that is only subtitled in a language not spoken in the movie. It's very frustrating. Combined with Netflix's increasingly shitty catalog and I'm sure I should cancel.

I can't comment on BBC, but I can't remember the last time I watched something on netflix or amazon that had missing subtitles.

BBC Live Subtitles are available on all channels apart from BBC Parliament, BBC Alba and S4C. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/help/using_subtitles

Most of the programmes on BBC iPlayer now have the option to turn subtitles on. I think a very rare, old, program that does not have it. As the standards state MUST http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/guides/subtitles/

The standards are clear. 4.1. Full-length scheduled programmes and their associated broadcast subtitles MUST be made available online through iPlayer.


Not sure where you get the information about the BBC, but all of the shows on its main channels are available with subtitles.

Channels... I remember those.

I'm sure it's just more hours to them; on something they're trying to get out the door yesterday.

I take your point that they're time constrained, but I dispute the implication that a differently proportioned team may make different decisions. That's an assumption that goes against the balance of evidence.

Actually advertisements are not something kids should be exposed to at all. At least if you have the sake and health of the kid in minf.

If what you have in mind is to target kids while they have not yet developed their mind to the point of dealing with advertising then this is something they should be exposed to.

I tend to be of the first mindset.

Google's adfilters are broken or can be gamed: I keep getting advertising for a subject I've explicitly banned.

I was searching for UV diodes another day and now I see on mobile ads (Google Adwords) for "Bank notes that pass UV pen tests", so either scam or they sell fake money. I have screenshotted it and I get these ads on reputable sites. I live in poorer country so I guess the bidding fe is not that expensive.

Agree with this. It makes me very angry.

Also, in case you glazed over the link to the recent Medium article, here it is:


I read it last night after the wife recommended it ... and wow.

Thanks for posting this article and it is indeed disturbing. It looks like there is just an insane amount of mind scrambling content that nobody should let themselves or their children experience. Given the Medium author's informal but useful initial analysis, this seems like a ripe topic for a formal psychological and technological analysis by some poor dissertation student or group of students who could survive the content and uncover much more about the origins, intent, extent, and consequences of this type of media.

I'm reading the article and trying to figure out exactly where the horrible "mind scrambling" is happening.

The article seems to say "back when I was a kid, my parent entertained me with contentless saccharine trip from sources we trusted (Disney et al) but now contentless saccharine trip is autogenerated (duh duh duh) and who knows what effect that is going to have on 'developing brains'"

And would suspect, contrawise, that if there's a problem, it began at the point when the TV became the primary babysitter for modern children and things escalating to youtube is a step but a less significant step than this.

Edit: OK, the complaint is video moving from simplistic saccharine junk to the same thing with violence. I get that this is the step that disturbs parents lazy/busy enough to consign child rearing to video but controlling enough to think kids will parrot whatever they see. I would still see consigning kid-hood activity to video as where the damage comes. But maybe "that's just me"

Disney movies generally makes sense and have some logic rooted in the real world. Yes there are talking animals and magic but the stories ultimately relate to the human experience.

I think the problem with the crap the author finds is that – it is nonsensical. These videos addict kids by triggering their innate desire to seek out novel/scary situations and explore them. This instinct exists so kids learn about the real world around them, as quickly as possible. But when kids watch videos with no sense, no logic, and no relation to the real world, their brains learn and reinforce nonsense. It delays their development while reducing their attention for more wholesome – and more boring – exploration of the real world.

Kids' brains are amazingly plastic, they have amazing memories, and they ruminate sometimes for months on novel/strange concepts. Watching, say, Peppa the Pig eat her own father even once can have a profoundly negative effect on a young child.

Absolutely parents should not let YouTube babysit their children. But a child watching, say, Sesame Street, will tell you about how Oscar helped Elmo do such-and-such, or Grover had a bad day and Big Bird comforted him, and they'll apply that to their own life. A child watching Marvel character heads buried in sand will prattle on about random creatures' heads buried in things, and will fail to apply that lesson to anything in their real-life experience.

EDIT: Not to imply e.g. Disney is flawless – remember Dumbo's pink elephants?

Sounds like the same complaints that were made about the greatest children's book of all time -- Alice in Wonderland. A book entirely based on illogical nonsense.

A book entirely based on illogical nonsense.

Not so.

Alice in Wonderland is a book set in illogical nonsense. The world is illogical, the characters are illogical, but the story is cohesive. That is what makes Alice in Wonderland so wonderful.

To contrast, what we are talking about are generated associations between familiar things. Instead of Alice in Wonderland's illogical nouns and cohesive story, we have familiar nouns and illogical story.

Alice in Wonderland took us on an unfamiliar trip, and made its strange self relatable. These videos are the reverse: they take relatable things, and shove them together in incohesive, unrelatable, and sometimes frightening ways.

Actually I was thinking of the Disney film adaptation of that as an example of the kind of nonsensical visual stuff that can linger in a kid's head forever. I still distinctly remember the scene with the cards marching angrily. Why were they cards? Why were they angry? Why were they scary? Didn't matter then, doesn't matter now, but to my 3-year-old brain it was really important to try to answer those questions.

I haven't read the book, but given that it's based much more on wordplay as a means of humor (and therefore the exploration of what is, and isn't, sensical in the real world -- the core of humor) than on... algorithmic garbage..., and that it's intended for 8-13 year olds (the ages of its first audience) rather than 2-6 year olds (the target audience of nursery rhymes etc. that the videos in the article are based on), it's somewhat tangential to the point that I and the article are trying to make.

The nonsense in Alice in Wonderland is quite logical - a lot of it is allegory based on math, linguistics and theology.

I had to Google the Peppa Pig eating her own father video, and I can say without a doubt I would rather have my child watch that than Peppa Pig.

What's more, it is hilarious how this was shown as an example of the videos targeting kids. As a native spanish speaker, it seems overhwelmingly obvious to me that this is just a standard parody animation targeted for teens and young adults. Equivalent in tone to SpeedoSausage and much of the Newgrounds crowd.

Great explanation!

Human beings begin learning to speak by babbling - producing nonsensical language gradually begin to make sense.

It seem illogical that a sense stream of images would innately dangerous by itself. Indeed, most of the things that a child sees at a young age are senseless to the child even if they have a logic to them. Moroever, a child is going observe a senseless stream of images whenever an adult begins channel surfing in a determined manner.

> Human beings begin learning to speak by babbling - producing nonsensical language gradually begin to make sense.

That analogy is flawed. Children don't learn to speak by listening to each other babble. They learn by listening to adults speak in cohesive, logical sentences.

> It seem illogical that a sense stream of images would innately dangerous by itself.

If it causes the child to ruminate on a nonsensical topic, it is. Children have very limited time to learn about social norms and human behavior.

> Moroever, a child is going observe a senseless stream of images whenever an adult begins channel surfing in a determined manner.

You seem to misunderstand the amount of time children spend watching adults change television channels, versus say, literally anything else that occurs in their life.

You seriously claim that streams of nonsense is by itself damaging to the brain of a child? Just on it's face it seems unlikely.

I'm surprised no-one in this entire thread has even mentioned the possibility that autism, OCD, ADHD, etc. might be, in part, caused by such streams of nonsense.

Human sociality needs to be boostrapped. Kids watching this all-day-every-day are /definitely/ gonna grow up funny. Why do you think daycare costs more than a mortage?

What makes you think that that's unlikely? I find it completely absurd that a child can adopt our culture and language in such a short time. Kids learn and adapt at an extreme pace. why wouldn't you think throwing nonsense in there would affect development?

The author is British. I don't know about the US, but our children's television represents the highest aspirations of broadcasting. Cbeebies and CBBC consistently produce programmes with the utmost of thought and care.

If kids TV in the US is genuinely no better than the pap on YouTube, then you guys need to picket the FCC until something radical happens.



It is not just you, but my youngest is 27. I am not currently raising small kids. So I try to respect the fact that if parents are complaining, then it must be an issue for them.

My bigger concern is that we are happy to let automation take jobs while talking about UBI as the solution. Does no one but me see a connection here? This is a way for people to make money using automation in the face of fewer regular jobs being available due to automation. If people need money and can't make it some other way, duh, they turn to doing this stuff.

Are you even trying to compare a Disney film or similar "saccharnine contentless" media to the sheer acid trip nightmare fuel that is videos like these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXjJdv5fj5k

I don't get what is so bad? If you watch the video it has a story, it is just really poorly animated.

You seriously don’t see what is wrong with a five year old watching that? Did you even watch it?

Perhaps you could explain it rather than making an argument to incredulity?

I don't think it does have a story. Things happen in it, sure, but not for a reason. In one skit, the bad guys bring a tiny shark, then enlarge it with a magic wand. At first, it chases them in a pool, but after they get out, the shark flies after them. The shark eats punch and turns red. The Narrator says, "Red." They run into a room, and the shark phases through the wall. They run out of the room. They run outside, and the good guys shoot at the shark with guns. The shark changes color again. Finally, they shoot the shark with a wand, which changes it back again. This last part is the only part within the skit where something is stipulated, and then becomes relevant again. Every other time, something happens for no reason, and then that thing doesn't happen again.

In another skit, a girl want to play with all of the other kids. She tries to take away one child's toy, but he gets angry, and pushes her to the ground. She runs away, and finds her magic wand. The magic wand turns a red toy into an evil red ghost. The kids shoot at with guns until it pops. The magic wand creates a green ghost. The kids shoot it. Wand creates a pink ghost. The kids shoot it. Wand creates a yellow ghost. The kids shoot it. The girl runs away.

There's also no continuity or story between the skits. In one skit, the Joker sneaks into someone's house and kidnaps them. In another, he's a good guy, changing all of the watermelon into rainbow watermelon.

TL;DR: Shell out for PBS. Don't let your children watch this.

So it's nonsensical? I can understand that. But how do we go from nonsensical to harmful?

Watching that is tantamount to reading Act II from The King in Yellow.

Watching that was worse than August Underground's Mordum.

The main different between this and say the "Road Runner" series is Road Runner is somewhat better quality. But either way you've a series of exploding cartoon figures - what age wasn't Road Runner appropriate for?


Isn't it possible that autogenerated saccharine trips might be even sweeter than anything a human mind might generate?

You know how machine translation is often hilarious when it produces word combinations that wouldn't even _occur_ to a normal humanmind? We think it's funny because we're _aware_ of the difference between normal word sequences and word salad. Small children are not aware of the ways in which these algorithmically-generated videos are, well, weird. Who knows how children's minds react to these supernormal stimuli?

Isn't it possible that autogenerated saccharine trips might be even sweeter than anything a human mind might generate?

It seems unlikely.

Autogeneration is done for quality but for quantity. Humans have been crafting "high" and "low" brow content for a while and while I might call low brow content trash, I recognize very specific talents and strategies go into things like horrible jingles, it seems unlikely the marketeer could make something with more of qualities they're after just by accident.

When I was young, quite a long time ago, guns and military toys were huge - obviously that implied violence and it all went into my brain.

I would expect that the extreme flexibility of a child's brain would tend to allow them to select between the huge variety of things they're exposed to. And thus I'd suspect the worst part of modern child rearing is the things children aren't allowed to do, such as play outside in the part by themselves (insert horror stories here).

I think the reason you're so sour is because you didn't see enough Disney films growing up.

Jesus Christ, I just read that article and... wow, that is some Black Mirror shit. AI nightmares delivered at massive scale directly to the minds of infants, at a rate of tens of thousands (?) of views per second. I had no idea we were living in a dystopia already.

Well said. I find your last sentence hard to believe though.

My 5 y/o has found all of these videos, I guess they're linked by recommendation. And even weirder ones in the past month. One positive might be that I haven't noticed violent or sexual content aimed at children, it's just very strange. Not sure what to make of it.

If you watch long enough (I left it running on the side while at work, muted, out of curiosity) and some of that stuff will come up eventually.

It gets weirder when you have the live action stuff with kids' favourite characters murdering and raping each other. Somebody put in actual effort to put some of that stuff together. Other animated pieces are just a bad accident.

It seems kind of circular. Somebody writes an algorithm to try and take advantage of kids' love for popular cartoons. It grabs keywords, phrases, characters, tones, sound clips, etc. It puts them together into a short (or too long) animated video. The YouTube algorithms pick up on some common tropes and then those autofab end up in kids' watching queues, they end up getting enough views because they keep kids numbly watching (not knowing what it is their taking in), other groups start noticing and decide exploit the algorithms in the same way. At least that's how it appears to me...

Purely algorithmic generation seems less likely to me than Southeast Asian video factories that use cheap labor to churn out a bajillion variations of the same thing with different keywords and characters slotted in.

You are probably right ATM, but the technology is improving rapidly. At any rate, it is entirely plausible that the story themes are autogeneratrd (using a neural net to identify hot topics, then curating what it can produce on its own).

The kind of people pushing content like this are not using neural nets. They’re probably using Markov chains and PHP YouTube uploaders from 2012.

There’s a very distinct internet marketing subculture, and for some reason it’s always had a lot of cross over with script kiddies and semi technical Wordpress marketers.

You'd probably do a cheaper and better job just spending 15 minutes browsing youtube, then calling your buddy in Macedonia.

Sure, if many of your competitors aren’t already doing that.

This is just the latest iteration of how any website is only 7 Kevin Bacon clicks away from rotten.com.

The net is vast and infinite and funnels the human id.

Autotegenerated content will never be a clean feed until machine learning evolves.

Or to put it another way, teach your kids to talk with you if they see or experience something icky.

And also don't allow access to an internet-enabled device without direct supervision until they are fairly mature.

Good luck with that one.

My niece's dad bought her a phone. She's 3. What the fuck. My sister is not happy with it, but I don't think she feels like she has much power over the situation.

"Uh-oh honey, looks like little Alice dropped her phone in the toilet again. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"

so sneaky. that's just the kind of sneaky thing a benevolently manipulative, savvy mother might do.

You're not going to be able to convince people who benefited greatly from unfettered internet access in their youth to do that.

I too benefited from relatively unfettered access to the internet as child, but as a 14-year old, not a 4-year old.


No! This is not about degrees of separation. It is about systematic abuse for profit.

> systematic abuse for profit

Autogenerating content targeted at kids is "systematic abuse for profit" in the same way that Disney holding focus groups is "abuse". The content is clearly entertaining to kids, or else there would be no economic incentive to create it.

The algorithm occasionally picks up some nasty troll content by accident (hence degrees of separation). It is clearly unintentional as it goes against the financial interests of the channels.

This is a long way from "zomg illuminati bot conspiracy subliminal evil content child abuse".

I wonder how much of this is kids not realizing they can skip videos. I'd like to do an experiment to see how quickly kids change the video for different categories of videos. Maybe they just like videos, and clicking randomly on child's links at the end of videos will eventually drop you into this maze.

They 100% know they can. I've watched a 2-year-old with a phone skip through dozens of videos until they found a channel just saccharine enough to hold their attention for minutes until the phone was taken away.

But you could use this to change the human id over time, not just reflect it.

The article seems to never get to the point. What was the disturbing thing?

Three main things:

- Surrealist gibberish videos made with cheap render assets that feature whatever will show up in kids’ content search (thus a predominance of Marvel and Disney characters)

- Gross-out and violent troll videos that imitate the surrealist gibberish videos well enough for the algorithms to think they’re kids’ content

- Live-action content that tends to include borderline child abuse in the name of “funny” content (for example, children vomiting or visibly in pain)

I work for an online reading platform. Our number one kids books are mostly about bugs, poop, and bugs that eat poop, followed closely by murder investigation.

Kids love things that make them slightly uncomfortable. A feeling they get a lot more often than adults. A feeling most adults avoid.

These videos are not that. Some quotes from https://www.reddit.com/r/ElsaGate/ which fit what I saw so far:

> Adult themes repeat themselves throughout these videos. They're subtle, and require interpretation which makes our analysis vague, but they are too pervasive amongst videos of different channels, countries of origin, and even advertised content that I cannot help but suspect a correlation. :Imagery of fear and life-threatening circumstances. :Medical play, roleplay or real, involving pregnancy and needles. :Ideas of dominance and power, submission. :Magic, wands, spells being used negatively on others. :Acting on an unconscious party, non-consent. :Visual innuendos and gags and even inappropriate touching. :Naughtiness and misbehavior conducted in secret. :Showers and bathroom imagery. :Colored plastic balls! In every video, regardless of content. :Kids eating inordinate amounts of things for no reason.


> I am 20 with no children but am definitely a scared soccer mom at this point. Having first hand experience with being a Kid On Youtube and now being an Adult With Trauma, I think a lot of people aren't thinking about the severity of the effects of these videos on children, and I'm thinking that's probably because a lot of people in this sub are older and didn't get to experience being a kid on youtube w little/no parental supervision.

> Tons of people are saying "well, I saw porn as a kid, and im fine." That isn't the point! The point is /all of this is already kid targeted/. Seeing porn as a kid on my own accord/exploration did nothing bad to me for the most part. Seeing screamers on kids videos, as a kid? Totally fucked me up. Seeing early-stage elsagate-esque videos as a kid? Not so much, but that's only my experience, and the technology to make videos like this wasn't really available yet. The long term effects are serious and traumatizing and there's more to do w the issue than just "well, its BAD PARENTING" (or, alternatively, people saying the kids watching these videos are "just bad kids". also, not all parents care about being bad parents. just throwing that out there.) Youtube provides a direct service of "you want to hurt kids? well, heres your platform." and it's always been like that. even when youtube wasnt that big. people have been reporting kid-targeted screamers for yearssssssssss and nothing gets taken down. and there are people that want to make this content. that is /incredibly scary/ and exploitable, even if these videos are just a case of "AI gone rogue".


> I watched those Elsa, Spider-Man, The Joker and Maleficent videos for over 4 hours and I lost count how many had steady themes of kidnapping there were, normalizing being tied up and injected with REAL SYRINGES. One especially disturbing video showed a live girl no older than 6 being held down against physical discomfort while a blurred out syringe seemingly penetrated her butt while she lay on her stomach. Mind you all of this is taking place while cheery music is being played couple with laughter and the actual live screaming of the child present in many of the videos.

Spend one hour watching skipping around in videos (it's not like you would be able to refrain from skipping anyway, and if you can go one hour you can stomach a lot more than I can, and that's from someone who saw people getting sliced up on stileproject in 2000). Then do some very superficial math. Then see if you just want to shrug it off.

And animated sequences of popular kids show characters murdering and raping each other... or so I've heard (and seen commented on up thread).

I wouldn't watch it myself so just hearsay.

Also a strange fascination with giving crying children injections. (some with live children and actual needles)

    > What was the disturbing thing?
That we as humans work under the assumptions that the things we consume have at least a basic level of curation involved in them. This assumption is now no longer true.

Sitting a child in front of YouTube is now essentially equivalent to running a fuzzer / AFL on an infant mind. Who the hell knows how the human brain will react?

We know how the human brain will react. We already know how the human brain reacts to lack of good parenting and social environment, and how beyond a certain degree it reacts to it like it does to more active abuse. It's not like this isn't being studied for ages by people who genuinely care, but we as "non-professionals" just refuse to seriously understand and tackle the spectrum of psychopathology without also risking all the relationships and the houses of cards ultimately built on it respectively (i.e., a more than fragmentary understanding would require us to reorder our own lives and relationships, and tackling it in earnest would endanger financial interests), so once again we try to make this a special case and see where it gets us. Spoiler: it will get us nowhere.

There isn't anything actually disturbing in this article, the author and everyone here are freaking out over nothing. And it's odd too, because you can literally go to any child's vlog on Youtube and find tons of pedophiles making lewd comments. Are people not aware of that? That's disturbing, not this algorithmically-generated clickbait stuff.

As far as I can tell the first specific thing that the author calls out as something that should disturb all humans is that the Aladdin characters are joined by a character from a different IP. Truly terrifying to any company or copyright holder.

Algorithmic reward system within YouTube results in infinitely many nonsensical and non kid appropriate videos targeted at kid viewers.

Discussed a few days ago at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15637504.

What I found especially interesting in the Medium post that (it seems) spurred this is the suggestion that algorithmically-generated content seems very easily to become nightmarish without any malicious intent.

It makes sense to me that systems which randomly throw things out and react to clicks of kids with not much superego quickly fall into dream-logic. Isn't this roughly the canonical explanation for how dreams work anyway?

I did this intentionally recently by only listening to spotify’s discovery playlist for a few weeks in a row. I started out with some r&b and electronic music, and ended up weeks later with a playlist of bland, uninspired rock music, apparently the fixed point of my discover playlist adventures.

I wonder if the result would be different had I started out with different preferences, or if The Algorithm pushes everyone to the same place (cheap music for Spotify)

It would be different if you started out with different preferences (note: all new rock music is uninspired rock music, and Discover Weekly pushes newer music).

I don't believe in this kind of censorship and that medium article just reads like a bunch of alarmist nonsense to me.

I was exposed to tons of super-weird stuff on TV an the internet (adult swim, fat-pie, etc) and so were most of my friends growing up. I don't think it was problematic for any of us.

When you're a kid and something feels disturbing, you turn it off. Our society really doesn't give kids any credit for being autonomous and resilient.

Most of all, I don't like that one corporation has the power to "crack down" on a whim about what's appropriate for kids to watch on a global scale.

> I don't believe in this kind of censorship and that medium article just reads like a bunch of alarmist nonsense to me.

Agreed, to some extent.

> When you're a kid and something feels disturbing, you turn it off

One of the arguments made in the original Verge article on this from February is that young children don't actually behave this way. In fact, if they did, this wouldn't be an issue, since the videos wouldn't be watched, and the motivation for making them would be gone.

I love mildly disturbing, uncomfortable and awkward entertainment. Salad Fingers and others were some of my favorite things when I was 12 or so. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. But the children this article mentions are much younger than that.

just as an anecdote, when my 3yo saw some videos she didn't like (i.e. she came across me watching something violent on TV) she asked me to turn it off, or backed in a corner where she couldn't see them, or walked away.

She also saw some odd nursery rhymes on youtube, but those didn't seem to annoy her.

Not all kids are the same, but I agree with the OP that we should maybe give the kids more credit.

These are some of the "most popular" child videos on YouTube. While I'd love to give the kids more credit, data shows otherwise.

the point was more that maybe most are not as disturbing to kids as we assume they are, not that kids will stop watching all of them.

My little brother watched "fist of the north star" with me when he was 5, where people literally explode and evil guys routinely lick blood off their blades, and he still grew up to be a balanced person, as far as I can tell.

Whether the videos are disturbing to kids is not the point, at all. Tons of things are not disturbing but harmful.

Your little brother grew up just fine doesn't mean my (hypothetical) kids will grow up fine.

Is it at all possible that these "weird" videos are not disturbing to children?

When you're a toddler, your brain is strongly updating all the weights and biases encoded inside the lump of goo behind your eyes. It's literally a years-long neural network training exercise, with all sorts of back-propagation and pruning. I can imagine very strong feedback loops between algorithmically-generated content and neural development with weird side effects.

I don't care that the content is violent per se. Whatever. We're robust against that. What I do care about is how the content is inhuman and engagement-optimized. We, as humans, are as defenseless against that sort of thing as the Dodo was to hunters.

It's one thing when you discovered porn in the 90's at the age of 12, versus being 5 years old and watching Spiderman rape & murder Elsa.

My guess though is that a lot of the kids watching that searched for just that because kids are a lot weirder than we like to believe.

I'm sorry, but how is that difference?

Unless I take you wrong, do you claim that a child that watch cartonish spiderman forcing himself on Elsa, will end up child molesters or murderers themselves, then I would love to see some statistics, other that the fact your argument sounds reasonable on its face.

I don't know about rapists and murderers, but very young kids have started to rub against each other and according to my kindergarten teacher, it has exploded and happens a lot more than before. Anecdotal evidence, but if you believe her it doesn't only happen in that specific place. Spiderman shagging Elsa or playing with her tits certainly doesn't make the problem letter.

When you're a kid and something feels disturbing, you turn it off.

[citation needed]

Common-sensical dismissals of something are often just a way of declingin to address an actual problem. I find it really easy to think of contexts in which kids keep watching this stuff even though they don't like it an its scaring them. You might not have done it, but you might not have any experience of autistic spectrum disorders, for example.

It's like saying people should just ignore trolls on the internet or any of many other nominally helpful cliches that actually dismiss the concerns of people who are dealing with problems.

>When you're a kid and something feels disturbing, you turn it off.

Do you realize these are the "most popular" child videos on YouTube? Gosh, the fact that these people are making money off of it is proof that "kids" are watching these videos, and are apparently not capable of "just turning them off". Yeah right, maybe that happened to you. I'm not confident my (hypothetical) kid watching these videos can turn them off, at all.

Can you please not claim "censorship", "evil corporation", "global scale", "alarmist", and look at this issue directly? GOSH, these are objectively bad issues, and why can't you just not let children see them? Not everyone out there is trying to "brainwash" your kids. The world is a better place without these videos.

These are bad videos. Children should not be shown these videos. I applaud YouTube for "censoring" these things.

If you're the kind of parent that feels "this is censorship", "no one should tell my kid not to watch these videos", and "my kids are totally okay with watching these videos", then I really think you need some serious help.

The kids are choosing what they want to watch and it doesn’t fit societies made up ideal for what children should want to watch. It’s scary just like rock and roll was scary 50 years ago.

I am only hearing the exact same moral panic arguments given about Elvis’s hips.

Just because you don’t like something and can’t understand why someone else would, doesn’t make it bad.

You are just too old to see the value in things your child likes. It’s a tale as old as time.

You’re very insistent these are bad but I don’t really see why. I would consider many of these absurdist works of art, yet we don’t cover children’s eyes from the likes of Pollock.

Yes, these videos are bad. The reasons are clearly listed in the article and the video in it.

"5 years old and watching Spiderman rape & murder Elsa" is never something you should let a child watch. I'm sorry, but this is not something Pollock would ever cover. This is child pornography level of stuff. Or, are you saying that is also something perfectly fine for any audience?

I'm really amazed by the mental gymnastics one has to perform to compare these videos to Pollock and Rock and Roll.

Explain the actual harm. Enumerate it. I get that you don’t personally like it, and thus don’t want your child to watch it, but do you think it’s going to make your child a rapist?

I'll cite a fellow HN user: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15674870

Or this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15674305

Or how about this medium article? https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-in...

Many people have presented their case on this issue. In this thread or elsewhere. Please don't pretend they don't exist by saying "Explain the actual harm. Enumerate it." Where's your proof that these videos are harmless or even beneficial to children?

Again, you are only proving the Elvis moral panic argument. Other commentators agreeing with you doesn’t make a case.

I'm sorry, but this is not just "Other commentators agreeing with you". Those arguments are, in fact, sufficient for me to believe that these videos are harmful to children.

I appreciate that they crack down on content that is obviously designed to hurt and traumatise.

Not one of the cited videos in the article was a example of something that is 'designed to hurt and traumatise'

I agree. They are designed to get as many views from kids. Them being traumatic may be a side effect, but not the goal.

'traumatic' is way overstating it.

no, sorry, you've lost touch with reality or don't have kids you care about or both. if i read this stuff and my mind goes "holy crap this is just sick, the !@#$ who created that content has to be executed" - it is enough of an indication for me that no kid should ever be exposed to that.

not only creators of such content should get jailtime, youtube has to pay fines for each child-minute streamed even if it drives alphabet into bankruptcy.

No. You lost touch with reality. None of the cited videos were traumatizing. It's an insane statement to make. Kids live through wars and horrific abuse or neglect. Those things are 'traumatic'. You're freaking out over YouTube videos that are kind of weird.

TIL if kid's not injured by a grenade or raped - he's fine, nothing to worry about.

How do you know you and your friends turned out fine?

I don’t mean to be accusatory, but I wonder what scale we’re using when we’re saying that this sort of content is “harmful”. I doubt people are implying that watching these videos will turn kids into psychopaths.

Well, violence is a pretty good metric. And that has not budged one bit since the introduction of the internet or violent games for that matter.

A lot of claims, both in the original Medium article and in this thread, are made on the effects disturbing content has on humans.

I am not saying that these videos are something we should allow, but let's get our facts straight on its effects first.

> Most of all, I don't like that one corporation has the power to "crack down" on a whim about what's appropriate for kids to watch on a global scale.

This is the real problem. We need to break the platform monopoly ASAP.

But how do we know you're not some maladjusted weirdo?

I agree with this. When I first started browsing the Web I'd occasionally see weird and disturbing things. I'd then try to avoid them, recognize the signs of things that looked "off". I think this might have lead me to develop more careful browsing habits that make me a safer user today.

How can you possibly avoid it if the only thing you know is the home screen and sb always filled it with those pretty .. fuck.

Thats the problem with somebody else filling the homescreen. I never saw it that way.

So what kind of homescreen would be best for a kid?

I agree. When I read the original I expected violence and gore videos put together by trolls to freak out kids. And I thought the article was a total waste of time. We live in the age the mob.

Videos where peppa the pig gets tortured by a dentist and turns into a robot don't count as violence?

Yeah, and it's tamer than pretty much any episode of Ren & Stimpy.

If I had a kid, I would not want them watching Ren & Stimpy until they were mentally prepared for it.

I remember the show being a wonderful subversive work of art. I also remember it being nightmare fuel when I was as old as 11. If a young child ends up watching a Ren & Stimpy equivalent just because YouTube recommended it, or more likely, watching something just as edgy but without the quality -- that too is a problem.

>I also remember it being nightmare fuel when I was as old as 11.

You were a sheltered, sensitive child.

Jesus. When you write it like that I have visions of a horror film full of gore. It's an intellectually dishonest statement because the video is so tame - at best, slightly weird.

>After that, there is a team of humans that review videos which have been flagged.

The last line of defence is depending on toddlers flagging their videos? Here's your golf clap, YouTube.

Those are very annoying and dangerous. Glad Youtube is doing something.

If you have young kids, be careful on what you allow on their devices (ipads, xbox, iphones, etc).

Just the other day, I noticed a young kid (~9yo) watching some type of porn on an iPad, while the parents were paying attention the other kid play softball. I told the mom and she freaked out.

What I am doing for my own kids lately:

-Enable Parental control on their devices, so they can't install, delete or modify any the apps.

-Force a Family Filter through DNS: OpenDNS, Norton, CleanBrowsing ( Lately I have been using CleanBrowsing - https://cleanbrowsing.org - as it enforces SafeSearch + Safe Youtube by default.

-Disable Flash & Java.

-Install an adblocker.

-Check their browser histories from time to time to see whats up. They are all pretty young (under 10), so didn't learn how to clear history yet. I wish there was a way to prevent cleaning up history on the ipad.

Any other things I might be missing?

I would rather give them something else to do instead of going through so many control measures for internet access (Not saying it should be banned). There are so many things they can learn without internet and so many things they can learn with just computer and no internet too.

I don’t have kids yet (on the horizon) but my plan is to do what my father did to me: make me play outdoors as much as possible. They will learn programming, but on a machine I set up and control. Hopefully Boy Scouts can Bridge the gap.

Please do that. And do, i.e. don't just have that ambition now, which will easily whither in the wee hours of the night. Prepare beforehand so you are equipped to execute your plan when the day comes. Plan days off or whatever it takes to make your plan a reality.

Me too. But easier sad, than done. At least for us.

Thanks for your comment. I have been using opendns family filter,but I didn't know about clean browsing.org. The safe search enforcement via DNS looks handy. I will consider switching. Looks like they block Reddit too.

It's (un)surprising how fast YouTube responds to this somewhat mild criticism, while holding steady on their radio silence regarding the large amounts of huge creators who are getting demonetized and community strikes against their accounts. Nearly every big channel I watch has posted a video complaining about it in the past 2 months, with many just this week.

Gives you some good insight on where their priorities are.

Fast? This stuff has been talked about for months

Here's a reddit thread from 8 months ago


or a tv report on how its being called out on twitter 4 months ago


Based on who the complainers I’ve seen are, I’m sure that at the very least youtube threw out some baby with bathwater. But that said, their monetisation has not been successful. They do need to make big, hard changes.

A lot of what monetisation did was encourage spam, or content quality just above the spam threshold. Meanwhile, patreon (though obviously which a much smaller footprint) seems to encourage the kind of content youtube should want to encourage.

I'm really surprised Youtube hasn't implemented some sort of Patreon-like payment scheme. Seems like they are off making Youtube TV because no one learns anything and we must repeat the same mistakes indefinitely.

I think an interesting question is whether kids raised on this content "barely above the spam threshold" have different cognitive functions and/or appreciation of content later in life. Maybe these kids raised on mass-produced low-quality content will care less about aesthetic integrity or NPR-type content as adults?

If by aesthetic integrity, you mean the quality of production or a more traditional, even and smooth style of film cutting, then that's not what I mean by quality. You can have serious documentary style cutting with crap content or amateur-reality-TV-promo cutting with great content. But I think that on that front, yes. If you grow up on a style, you might like it later too.

What I meant by just above the spam threshold is just a mishmash of content thoughtlessly cut together to match a keyword result, game the "up next" suggestion engine and/or draw clicks through shameless clickbait.

A couple channels I used to enjoy have clearly limited their swearing, probably because they are afraid of losing their livelihood. I just see this as yet another reason to have adblock installed.

Hope you're learning to enjoy cable TV again, folks!

I think that's an overreaction. You can still see plenty of monetized swearing on YouTube. Go look at Hell's Kitchen videos.

YouTube hosts, monetizes, and promotes their content for free, and you're upset they can't curse as much anymore.

People like Philip Defranco, while still pointing out the damage YouTube is doing to the ecosystem, monetize outside of YouTube to maintain control of their product. If the people you watch don't have a Patreon / Sponsors / merch, they are willingly submitting to the YouTube monetization algorithm. It feels kind of entitled to want to get money from YouTube ads, but not produce content that those advertisers are willing to place ads on.

> YouTube hosts, monetizes, and promotes their content for free

No, YouTube takes a cut of their ad revenue. YouTube isn't a charity, it's a business.

> It feels kind of entitled to want to get money from YouTube ads, but not produce content that those advertisers are willing to place ads on.

Advertisers historically haven't really cared much about language. This whole mess was triggered by ads on a terrorist video iirc.

> No, YouTube takes a cut of their ad revenue. YouTube isn't a charity, it's a business.

YouTube lets anyone upload videos to their site for free. All of the ad revenue is theirs, as they have the direct relationships with the advertisers. They give content creators a cut of YouTube's ad revenue, not the other way around. When creators manage their own connections to advertisers (sponsors, native, merch) YouTube doesn't get a cut.

> YouTube lets anyone upload videos to their site for free.

Yes, YouTube doesn't charge you to upload a video.

> All of the ad revenue is theirs, as they have the direct relationships with the advertisers.

All of the money goes _through_ YouTube but it doesn't belong to YouTube. There's a (formal, legal) agreement between YouTube and creators that predetermines how much of that revenue belongs to YouTube and how much belongs to the creator.

> There's a (formal, legal) agreement between YouTube and creators that predetermines how much of that revenue belongs to YouTube and how much belongs to the creator.

Yes, that is the cut that they give the creator. Not the cut that they take from the creator. Advertisers are not talking to hundreds of thousands of creators, they're talking to YouTube. They give YouTube money and YouTube places advertisements on videos. The value that YouTube provides is necessarily greater than the portion of the advertising revenue they keep, otherwise creators would host their videos on their own sites / DailyMotion / Vimeo. And some creators do host on those sites, because they've decided that they aren't getting more value out of YouTube than elsewhere, that's a decision they're always free to make.

That's because big brands outsource a lot of the mundane stuff and they think youtube is just like display

You have a pretty curious definition of "for free" here.

My understanding is that YouTube sells billions of dollars of advertising against this content and keeps quite of bit of that money for themselves.

Not charging you for something is a pretty conventional definition for "free." Of course, they have their own motives to not charge you for hosting videos--which includes making money off associated advertising.

"I'll allow you to give me a lunch, for free." might be true (if I wouldn't charge you money to allow you to give me a lunch), but it seems like an odd statement to make.

Of course, this is not a super close analogy, because you wouldn't be gaining anything by giving me a lunch.

I think a closer analogy might be barter, maybe? Or, here is an odd analogy that might fit fairly well, but which maybe goes against the point I was trying to make:

If one person wants to interact with a pet dog, because they like dogs, and another person wants their pet dog to be taken care of for a while, so the first person agrees to take care of the other person's dog for a while. This case does seem to capture a fair bit of what is happening, but it seems like it makes sense to call it "for free".

Here is a variation on that idea though, which seems a little closer, but a bit less clear cut:

What if the person who is taking care of the dog for a while also said that they were going to enter the dog in a dog show (and that maybe if they got prize money they might share it with the dog owner), and that the owner of the dog was pleased by this idea. This would be a quite strange situation, so maybe intuition based on this example might not be the best guide to other things, but my intuition in this case is that it seems like it seems a bit more strange to say that they are doing this for free, though it would still be technically true.

(The dog show is analogous to showing the video(the dog) to other people, and the prize money is analogous to ad revenue, in case that wasn't clear.)

I don't know.

Swearing seems such a light reason though

Youtube is built entirely on their content, but they have to censor themselves because otherwise youtube might screw them.

What communities are you seeing this in?

In the firearms/gun rights communities, it seems like the prevailing opinion is that YouTube is specifically targeting them based on political bias.

I've not really considering it much, but your comment makes me wonder if their issues are part of a much larger pattern.

This may be extremely shocking for Americans but most international companies do not in any way, shape or form want to be associated with guns.

No IKEA doesn't want to put an ad under your video of your daughter's first AR-15.

The persecution complex comes directly from the NRA's uncompromising lobbying and ad strategies, and the perception of threats is based on received wisdom formulated entirely through the gun industry's profit motive.

What? You sure it doesn't come from the steady erosion of gun rights? Calls from all sorts of shifty politicians to restrict things, even when it makes no sense. Like after the LV shooting, when there is still no explanation available, just lies, yet people still use it to justify taking away more rights?

I used to think the NRA was nuts, then I saw that there's no negotiating with the other side. Gun owners only stand to lose, and have consistently had their rights destroyed. If they didn't have a persecution complex, they wouldn't be paying attention.

have consistently had their rights destroyed.

They absolutely have not, and this formulation illustrates the extreme positioning that the NRA has fostered for you to adopt.

If you think the NRA stands for gun owners' rights more than the profits of the manufacturers, explain their response to the Philando Castile murder.

Really? California lawmakers that literally invent terms write anti gun laws. Hell in Canada we had people flip through a magazine and cross out scary guns. There's even non existent guns banned by name.

The only NRA response I found echos what I first thought. Gun pointed at you? Don't move a single bit unless exactly directed. I figured that out in real-time, because I'm not going to trust some stressed out cop to stay chill. Particularly more if I appeared to be part of the highest crime demographic. It's still unfortunate and the cop should have had more training perhaps. But I guess I'm falling for propaganda.

> it seems like the prevailing opinion is that YouTube is specifically targeting them based on political bias

That's because they like to be victims. It's all about the narrative.

If you look around you see this happening broadly. You see a lot of people concerned about it who don't even mention politics.

Generally its the left that tends to play the victim card for sympathy points. Clearly both sides do this however because its(unfortunately) a powerful card to play. If you look at independent conservative youtubers such as Lauren Southern in particular you'll see the clear bias YT has.

> If you look at independent conservative youtubers such as Lauren Southern


> Lauren Southern (/ˈsʌðərn/; born 16 June,[3] 1995) is a Canadian far-right political activist, book author, and internet personality associated with the alt-right.[4][5][6] In 2015, Southern ran as a Libertarian Party candidate in the Canadian federal election. She worked for The Rebel Media, a far-right online media company based in Canada, until leaving in March 2017.

She also tried to physically prevent refugee rescuers with a far right "identitarian" group

Now she doesn't sound so innocent and the reason for YT decision seems pretty clear and uncontroversial

The left likes to play victim about other things.

Conservatives love to push the idea that they were targeted purely for being conservative. Look at the reaction around Damore, for example. It's all about how conservatives are being oppressed, how you can't trust the media and tech because they hate conservatives.

As a parent I must say if they acted quickly here I would like to know what acting slowly looks like. The creepy, scammy, sometimes illicit toy video thing has been going for years and this is the first I have heard of any crackdown.

2 weeks ago: https://www.polygon.com/2017/10/27/16556980/youtube-demoneti...

People also need to realize that the alternative is massive amounts of ad dollars simply being removed from YouTube altogether. The demonetization drive came from advertisers' outrage over the lack of control over where their ads appear. Without the demonetization push, they start pulling out en masse and everyone loses out.

Ooooor, Google could pony up and have a human look at AI flagged demonitized videos (or even just those whose appeals are consistently succeeding) instead of their usual "kill them all and let God, err, appeals sort them out" routine.

They're effectively sacrificing an entire genre (Gaming) at the alter of advertisers. A great way to lose the very content that brings advertisers and viewers to the platform in the first place.

I think you underestimate how many hours of videos are uploaded to YT every second. YT requiring lots of human interaction by moderators kills the profitability.

Or, they could create two separate ad categories by including an option like "Allow ad to be displayed on potentially controversial, offensive or profane content". That way instead if being demonetized videos could simply be moved to this bucket and get ads from less high profile brands, that don't care about this.

Advertisers from France will never agree with advertisers from America on what is controversial. Not even speaking about advertisers from Saudi Arabia.

Excellent point. Saying vagina in the Netherlands isn't a big deal, in the US the FCC would be calling your boss.

"Vagina" is actually allowed. Also, this is among the gems of the google infobox: https://www.google.com/search?rls=en&q=fcc+forbidden+words


Some serious double think right there.

What a shitty fucking law.

> how fast YouTube responds to this somewhat mild criticism

Fast? People have been complaining about this for ages.

The article even mentions an early report on the trend, from february:


I must be out of the loop here, can you post some context for this?

Another, experiencing a 90%+ drop in YouTube revenue since the latest update:

Sid Alpha: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe5eODFxwy0

This guy is as wholesome as wholesome can possibly be and he was still demonetized. Wears suits, is cordial with his viewers, doesn't curse... what more could YT want?

HOW? This guy is basically a 1950's white-picket fence gentleman. I think we are seeing a concerted effort to attack major YT channels into leaving YT.

My pet conspiracy theory regarding Youtube is that Google wants to pivot it to compete with Netflix and Amazon, and replace user-submitted content with exclusive, licensed content that might actually make money.

But Google doesn't want to risk the PR nightmare of admitting that they no longer want 99% of their userbase poisoning the well for the 1%, so they use pretexts like demonetizing content to encourage them to go elsewhere.

It's probably not true, but Google either seems to be fantastically inept or malicious at this point, when it comes to their interactions with content creators and their UX.

You can Google "Adpocalypse" for more info on this. Here are a couple of articles on it:



It started when some big advertisers made waves about their ads being placed on "extremist" videos on YouTube. Some quit Google's network at the time, too. To beg them back, Google essentially started removing anything that might upset those big advertisers. Like anything at all.

The "demonetization" actually came a bit later when there was backlash against those removals from users, so it was Google's way to "compromise". It wouldn't remove the more "sensitive" (but not extremist) videos, but it would demonetize them without much thought.

Is this even slightly surprising (or unreasonable)? An ad placement agency--which is effectively what google is acting as from an advertising perspective--wants safe, uncontroversial placements for at least most of their clients, especially big mainstream ones. They're mostly not looking for "edgy." The main surprise to me is that advertising support for a fair bit of non-mainstream content has held up as long as it has.

No its not. Companies care about their brand and have always wanted some assurance that their ads don't show up in something controversial.

There is actually a really simple solution here that nobody wants to talk about.


The boundary for what gets demonitized are arbitrary and ridiculous. It's not just people dropping racial slurs or showing graphic violence. It's comedy channels, science channels, etc...

It's probably the only thing they can do, but it really is an awful way to treat people who should be your partners.

Just this week: Popular science channel "Cody's Lab" got his account suspended.


Absolute shame and I cannot wait until TY dies its inevitable lonely death.

Also Bro Science Life and Gaad Sad.

Creators aren't paying google. Creators are the product.

No, creators are the bait that bring the real product (our eyeballs) to the site in the first place. Those eyeballs; those are the real product being sold.

I was going to say something just like this, only more wordy and less to-the-point. This is perfect.

Without creators Google doesn't earn money.


Here's the official YouTube twitter account promoting a video after demonetizing the channel. Warning: the comments are awful. https://mobile.twitter.com/YouTube/status/927958836308299777

Standard political maneuvering. Change the conversation by focusing on other problems and tooting your own horn in the process so loudly that people can't think straight

YouTube is trying to become TVTube. That's why.

With all the child-friendly content available on Netflix, Hulu, and HBO (the home of Seaseme Street), I think I'm going to skip youtube until my son is older.

Also Kindle Fire Kids edition is great for young ones. I have a completely locked down profile with only hand-picked shows/videos for my toddler. Mrs. and I are going through some medical stuff so it helps tremendously when he is able to stay quiet for 30-40mins at doctor's office watching Daniel Tiger. We don't let him play on his Kindle often but it is definitely one of the best purchases I made.

I have been pretty selective with Netflix shows because some of them seem pretty repetitive. I had high hopes for Word Party ( http://nypost.com/2015/07/01/netflix-to-stream-kids-word-par... ) when I first heard about it but it is honestly the same 3-4 songs repeated over and over in each episode. Instead we prefer to let him watch shows for slightly older kids that involve better story-telling and more complex concepts. E.g. We Bare Bears in Hulu is great.

I've noticed that 2d animation content is often much better than 3d and I think the medium post corroborates it.

Youtube should really offer a mode where the parent gets the whitelist specific channels. There are plenty of channels full of amazing educational content, and with a whitelist, there's a near zero chance that these channels would suddenly start uploading bad content.

This. My 7 year old watches some awesome Lego building channels and some gamers that I've checked to be OK.

For at least 6 months we have forbidden our 3 year old to watch YouTube because he ended up at some (harmless, but totally braindead) Spiderman nursery rhyme video and I figured he would be caught by bad algorithms.

Sometimes the 7 year old wants to be nice to his brother and searches for spiderman. He knows they shouldn't watch violent stuff, but it feels like a drug somehow to watch autogenerated content at all.

> it feels like a drug somehow to watch autogenerated content at all.

I'm a child of the 80's, and many of the cartoons I watched still hadn't been censored of their racist imagery.

I don't believe it harmed me, though oddly enough when I play Cuphead, I do occasionally expect a caricature of someone in blackface or stereotypical japanese to show up, simply because the game shares it's art style with Max Fleischer era cartoons.

> I don't believe it harmed me

That's very hard to know though. We all have unconscious stereotypes.

> there's a near zero chance that these channels would suddenly start uploading bad content.

Probably not a threat, but Youtube channels are really only protected by the strength of their owners accounts.

For netflix et al, not only is the content curated, the content is created by known companies.

Youtube went the wrong direction with ad targeting. It chased after huge brand advertising budgets while essentially trying to portray Youtube as equivalent to TV.

If they had instead aimed to make Youtube more similar to Adwords in terms of trying to show content-relevent ads on the right content, much of this wouldn't have become an issue later on with people basically spamming Google and the wrong ads showing up on irrelevant content.

I must confess my 7 year-old saw one of these Peppa Pig videos and I haven't seen him laugh so hard in his life. I think he is of an age where he realises this is something someone has created as a joke, I can see how a younger child would be upset.

It's weird. Some people get it, and some people don't. My dad is pretty tech-illiterate but he understands trolls perfectly and has an understanding of Poe's Law that predates the internet. My mom is the one who helps him use the computer, and she just doesn't get the combination of humor and malice. Are they being mean, or are they laughing? Which is it? She can't imagine it being both at the same time. And she totally gets all the other forms of pleasure that go along with malice. She doesn't have a problem watching a crime movie (or the news) and understanding that the bad guy was killing people for sexual gratification or the pleasure of revenge or the pleasure of humiliating another person. She totally gets it that doing bad things to other people can feel good. It's humor, specifically, that she can't recognize as a motive, and it makes her vulnerable because she can't spot trollish intentions and can't really process them after the fact either, which makes trolling doubly hurtful.

For example, you probably have a friend that you would trip to create a hilarious pratfall, knowing that he won't feel deeply hurt by it, because he understands your intention and might have done the same thing given the opportunity even though you both really like each other. My mom is the other kind of friend who you would never ever do that to, because she could only imagine that your intention was to hurt her and make her feel bad. Trolls feast on that kind of blindness. My mom is old enough that she's beyond being able to be hurt by the internet, but now I have a couple of nieces under three, and I can't imagine what the internet will be like for them if they take after her.

The attention being brought to this by journalists wouldnt be happening if Youtube were being more accountable.

Its fine if they do not want to offer a product for children, but when you do offer something for children you take on a massive responsibility.

Youtube admitting the mistake and fixing it is the only answer they can give of course. But it is a major point that they should responsible in the first place, so responsible that a journalist isn't needing to write a story on this.

> you take on a massive responsibility.

The problem is centralization. There is only one YouTube, and therefore YouTube is responsible for way too much.

Unrelated to the news article, but I'm alarmed that the usual HN balanced-skepticism is largely buried in this thread:

Almost no-one has questioned whether these videos are indeed harmful to children.

The top comment is a Medium article that sensationalizes these videos to the point where I was afraid the video would destroy my brain a-la Snow Crash.

I'm picking up a lot of "please think of the children" and "you would understand if you had children," and comments that read like a call-to-arms for a moral outcry.

On the other hand, there's almost no introspection about what OTHER things (that don't make adults strangely uneasy) might still be detrimental to children. if I'm being uncharitable, I might quote Neil Postman's view of Sesame Street: “Parents embraced “Sesame Street” for several reasons, among them that it assuaged their guilt over the fact that they could not or would not restrict their children’s access to television.

I didn't see any discussion by the article or comments about censorship.

I think you are sensationalizing the article. What exactly is there to be skeptical about? The article simply brought up a point that many of us are unaware of.

The problem is that YouTube is something of a monopoly, and that what is explicitly made for very young children is not what any of us would expect. It's simply important to be aware of that fact.

I might not have been clear enough, sorry, but my very first sentence was 'Unrelated to the news article.' I make no comment to the article.

> Almost no-one has questioned whether these videos are indeed harmful to children.

Then feel free to question it. Since this refers to a large body of videos, make sure you did your homework. Just some random things from the top of the pile if you will (but it's a big pile and frankly, even just the amount of very messed up things on the surface doesn't exactly make me want to measure out this particular ocean in full detail, I am scared less of watch lists than just poisoning my own brain or making myself sad for no reason or rather, with no constructive outcome -- but at least I'm not gonna be the guy/gal you chose to be, who hears a sea gull sample on the radio to tell us off for being fascinated by marine life)



Though I agree with you in that this hardly is some magical line beyond which stuff becomes harmful, but it's a very high concentration of it. We let marketing instill "brand loyalty" in kids, now they use cartoon figures and brands babies are likely to know to groom them for other purposes:


We live in a world where people physically throwing out poisoned bait for dogs is a thing. So apart from ad revenue or considerations about pedophile cults, even "just" producing this stuff en masse for the "fun" of destroying minds is a real possibility. You can roll your eyes at that, but when it's this big and obviously laced with known themes of abuse and methods of grooming, that says nothing about the issue and all about your superficial knowledge of it. Why would the reaction to something you can't even be bothered to actually look at "alarm" you either way?


No, I didn't watch most of these videos either. The titles are enough. "bad babies playing doctor toys put an enema song nursery rhymes for children". Thanks. And actual real human beings dress up and play weird [<-- that's an euphemism, it means what they actually do show in the videos, not what people read into it, or other things that have been previously called "weird" in other contexts] things, often in mansion like houses with flashy cars in the driveway.

This is a specific phenomenon. We don't really fully know what's going on and who does it why or bandwagons what. Which we aren't exactly to blame for, having asked for none of it, but at least making a better job at taking it seriously than you. Whatever it may remind you of, it's only what it actually is. Look at the actual specific stuff or don't. But nevermind parents, just as a human being I would tread lightly here before informing myself better.

> that sensationalizes these videos to the point where I was afraid the video would destroy my brain a-la Snow Crash.

The video? As in singular? How do you make the connection from you watching one full video (since most are above 10 minutes I doubt even that) as an adult to the harm that might be done to children ranging from 0 to infant who might watch hours and weeks of them being "sensationalized"?

How many hours of these videos across how many individual clips and accounts have you seen? Would you let your kids watch these things unsupervised, if yes, for how long per week at most? These three questions should be the entrance requirement to take part in this discussion, because if you belittle this without even having actually looked it, well, don't put that on yourself. Because it reads like people who belittle or rationalize atrocities that happen under their watch and with their implicit support. "Detrimental to children" in light of these videos, and their sheer amount, is like calling mass murder "not very nice".

> make sure you did your homework

I don't even have the foundation to do my homework; I'm not a psychologist.

I watched several of the videos. I can't say they kept me up at night (but that doesn't mean anything in the context of the discussion). I have no idea by what mechanism these would traumatize children; perhaps someone more familiar with child psychology could think of something similar? If these videos are completely unlike anything before them, any conjecture is meaningless. I'm in no way saying that they are or are not harmless.

I'm more concerned that any knowledge that can be gleaned about this phenomenon is being buried under emotionally charged moral outrage

> We live in a world where people physically throwing out poisoned bait for dogs is a thing.

Red herring.

> As in singular?

I mistakenly mixed my tenses, I said "videos" and then "video." My apologies.

> "Detrimental to children" in light of these videos, and their sheer amount, is like calling mass murder "not very nice".

To be clear, are you comparing the effect of these videos on children to 'mass murder?' I can't make heads or tails of your analogy.

As a thought exercise, there are a lot of commonalities between these videos and the average commercial that plays at 8pm: - 'sheer amount' - revenue makers - children might watch hours of them if unsupervised by parents - people think they will destroy the minds of the youth using some unexplained power - mass murder for young minds (unverified)

> I have no idea by what mechanism these would traumatize children

Well, you just watched a bunch. You didn't watch the theme of drugging and raping people, mutilation, dissociation, murder, incest, blood, and on and on and on, over a stretch of TEN THOUSANDS of videos, produced in concert by hundreds of channels.

You basically are comparing the effect of you as an adult watching a few videos \* with toddlers aged 0 to x, the more neglected of them watching who knows on them, on a site where the people who create the tech to make this happen by itself reside, enabled by the company that is owned by our favorite future shaping company. This isn't obscure, this isn't at your doorstep, this is in your house, and this is how seriously you take it.


You at least know that neural pathways are still formed when outside the womb, and how crucial the first few years are for brain development and the whole life? You're not a psychologist, you say? You are a human being and therefor amateur psychologist by default, you are literate, and you have internet access. There is no excuse.

Even just the fact that they might overhear adults, some of them pointing out that abusing children on purpose is wrong, and others excusing their own apathy with the shoddiest sophistry they can drag up, could be damaging for a child. It might consider that a viable option, instead of the fucked up thing it is.

\* (a few 30 or 60 minute long ones? I doubt, so what does several even mean? this is like someone talking about microplastic and bioaccumulation and you sniffing your fleece sweater saying you don't see a problem, and expecting to be delivered everything on a silver tablet instead of getting off your own butt, and that's generous, and seeing how we're not talking about harm nobody could have foreseen but deliberate assault, automated and on a mass scale, I simply don't feel burdened to convince you. I have to organize with those who don't need convincing (because they don't need to be pushed to take a closer look, and don't easily give up because they know the energy their child can have getting glued to things), to bring this to the attention of parents, and the rest can sleep with their conscience and their response to the question how they reacted when someone said there is something here, it's really really fucked up, please leave your convenience and attention span at the door and stand with me for long as this issue that others unleashed on us against our will takes. How could I ever break bread with these people ever again before, you know, clearing this up? You weren't there when it was against toddlers and when all it took was to cut back on your regular entertainment for a week to get up to speed. Will you be there if worse things come? Or side with the abuser even quicker, having conditioned yourself to do so in "little" cases like this? This is a historical moment and like all of them, those on the wrong side are totally unaware during it, and make up even more BS afterwards. Been there, done that, this issue is too big, too easy to research (just put it on autoplay and do chores and wait until you get really disturbing vibes, no need to bother yourself with reading a book about abuse or brain development), and targets too defenseless people. You think I'm abrasive and maybe really nasty, I think that I replied at all was generous. After all, if you can get over being offended for calling you out, it contains information and constitutes another chance, as does every free minute of every day from now on. Over and out.)

> You at least know that neural pathways are still formed when outside the womb > You are a human being and therefor amateur psychologist by default, you are literate, and you have internet access. There is no excuse.

So, by logic, if a child hasn't been taught to read and write by the time they're 3-years-old, they will never recover, they will always be less successful? That's my excuse then, I'm arguing with you because my neural pathways weren't well formed when I was 2-years-old. From my experience, most people who claim to be experts on toddler brains aren't neurologists, they're flash card salesmen.

What I'm trying to say is that when we're talking about neurology and psychology, LOGIC is not useful.


But I digress. I can see this hits close to home for you, and that I'm raising your ire by wanting to discuss details when you see a large threat that needs to be eliminated, not examined.

I concede that you may be right on this point. I completely agree, these videos should be removed from Youtube (for several reasons). But that doesn't preclude discussing the videos objectively.

My apologies, and I wish you the best of luck.

Google "elsagate" for the full backstory here. Most of these videos are essentially grooming tools for pedophiles, and the creators make substantial amounts of money on YouTube monetization. It's absolutely sickening.

I blocked youtube in my house with dd-wrt on my router because I saw some of the bizarre videos my children were watching. There is too much NSFC (Not Safe For Children) crap floating around.

Yep, those are annoying. What I found useful is to force Safe Search + Youtube Kids across our house via DNS.

Similar to this: https://cleanbrowsing.org/articles/configuring-google-safe-s...

But for www.youtube.com and m.youtube.com (it is actually the same IP).

There are so many bad kid's videos on YouTube, and I'm not even talking about the algorithmically created or "Peppa drinks bleach" kinds.

For example, while there are a ton of real Fireman Sam videos, there are also many that are just an endless concatenation of action scenes from different episodes. It goes on for about an hour, instead of the ten minutes of a regular episode. If you take it away from my kid he gets angry, if you don't he'll probably fall over from exhaustion after a while. And in any case I don't want him to vegitate in front of a nonsensical video for so long.

There are also tons of unboxing videos of toys. There are videos where some guy plays with toys and acts out new episodes with his weird voice. You never know if it is for children, or a satire/joke video for adults.

Then there are just videos that are buggy, stop early, have random parts cropped... etc. and are just frustrating.

It would be trivial to hire a couple of students and find and flag all of these videos (though not all mentioned in the posted link). DMCA and copyright would provide an easy mechanism to remove this content. Adult TV shows that are uploaded are removed immediately.

I have a sinister theory about this: This is tolerated by the copyright owners, or at least someone in the content distribution chain. The goal is to frustrate people enough that they will ditch YouTube and buy the DVDs.

I have since started to create a curated list of the good videos, and also moved to a Kodi setup where I can put known good episodes - it helps a lot to control the quantity and increase the quality of what the kid is watching.

>just an endless concatenation of action scenes from different episodes

These videos are basically electronic drug trips for 3 year olds.

There is no teaching going on, just attention and reward psychology. Any form of structure or coherence is removed, leaving just reward-inducing bright colours and fast movement. I really do wonder what affect this has on the human brain when consumed for hours every day.

Don't let an algorithm-controlled, attention hyper optimised marketplace control what your children see.

Am I the only person who's thoroughly tired of YouTube attempting to be family friendly? I'm not defending the videos with the kids characters doing sick things, that's NSFL stuff, but the constant focus on family friendly content is killing basically all of the channels I really enjoy watching.

I thought YouTube was supposed to be for everyone, not just the same lowest-common-denominator mashed potatoes content you can get from daytime television.

Their focus on family friendly content does not affect anything else - it even has its own app, YouTube Kids. This is the correct way to do it.

If you are seeing channels die then it's for some other reason than YouTube trying to make a separate kid friendly app.

Well, not quite. Channels are dying because their revenue is going away. That revenue is going away because their videos are unfairly (see following) being flagged as un-monitizable - which boils down to not being family friendly.

I say unfairly, because any number of creators can appeal the demonitization and have all of those videos re-instanted... but re-instatated too late to provide any real monetary value to the creator.

Family friendly? No, advertizer friendly in the most generic sense is the issue. There are plenty of places that aren't family friendly and still bring in lots of advertising revenue. The problem is you can't really do both at the same time.

Yeah, they want to go advertiser friendly and are being ridiculous about it.

This is entirely predictable under capitalism. Read Manufacturing Consent.

They don't care about being family friendly, they want to be advertiser friendly. It's harder to sell ads on a controversial platform.

I find it hard to blame youtube for that frankly. They're a completely rational actor here. If you decide to tie all your income from a 3rd party platform who doesn't care about you and what you're doing you have to have a contingency plan for when you'll get screwed over. It's the same story with people developing app store apps, except arguably worse because it's more straightforward to monetize your applications without having to rely on ads or 3rd party services.

I think this complaining by big creators is rather pointless because they have nothing to bargain with. Most of them need youtube a lot more than youtube needs them, with the possible exception of maybe a few very high profile youtubers.

As long as Youtube won't have any serious competition nothing will change on that front I'm afraid. The network effect is too strong, you can't just start self-hosting and expect to get a similar exposition.

I subscribe to a bunch of channels (mostly focused around Brazilian jiu-jitsu, powerlifting and video games) and I have not noticed any attempts at "family friendly content" having any impact on those channels. Where are you seeing it?

Gaming channels. Most gaming channels are having serious issues of one sort or another.

One example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pe5eODFxwy0

It's hard to really isolate it to any given channel, it's everywhere, all of the creators I follow from people who stream video games to people who comment on current events to people who make just dumb videos that are amusing, all of them seemingly are saying that their view counts are in the toilet and a bunch have had many videos demonetized, usually over the mythical "family friendliness" of their content (or lack thereof).

I grew up on YouTube, it's just a shame to see what was once such a democratized and "everybody get's in" service has turned into just an Internet TV, browse the home page without being signed in and it's nothing but celebrity shite, clickbait content, and the sort of faux "internet randomness" that marketers crap out in all of it's corporate sanitized glory.

It's just sad. Maybe I've got the rose colored glasses on but it feels way different than even a few years ago.

It's not a family friendliness issue causing this, it's an 'advertiser friendliness' one.

Anytime an ad was shown on a slightly controversial video, an internet outrage mob would descend on the advertiser saying how dare they provide money to <odious cause>.

Advertisers pressured Youtube for ways to advertise only on non-controversial videos. Youtube responded by demonetizing anything even halfway controversial.

> It's not a family friendliness issue causing this, it's an 'advertiser friendliness' one.

What's the difference? In my mind those are the same thing.

Take something like the Rubin Report [0], which is reasonably family friendly but that covers socially/politically controversial topics and/or speakers.

Not too long ago, a large amount of their back catalog was demonetized. It's not 'advertiser friendly' because sometimes even just the presence of a controversial speaker is enough to bring a hate mob down on anyone advertising on a video with them in it.

0: https://twitter.com/RubinReport

I watch a lot of video game content that is advertiser friendly (a conclusion I make since I see ads before it), but is not "family friendly."

While you don't have any inherent right to, in practice you can post a pretty wide range of content to YouTube without charge. But certainly no one has an obligation to pay you for that just like no one has an obligation to pay you for writing a blog on pretty much any topic you desire.

CodysLab is the most recent one to experience this, which is really bizarre, and his explanation video (after his channel was turned back on) reveals that Youtube automation had a lot to do with it.

They are carving out a Youtube Kids channel rather than filtering content for everyone, so you should at least be indifferent to this.

It's a business, they are going to do things like this to make money.

> the constant focus on family friendly content is killing basically all of the channels I really enjoy watching

If you're not paying for YouTube, they have to get money from somewhere and if those somewheres don't want to advertise on non-family friendly content, what are YouTube supposed to do? Go bankrupt on principle?

Something like Patreon where people pay for premium content would work.

They could set something up so creators could mark videos as premium, and then people have to pay a certain amount to watch.

Google already has the payments side of things covered from their other services, it really wouldn't be a stretch to add something like this.

Creators are basically having to do this anyway using a different site (Patreon) so Google should look at how to bring that internal to them.

That also neatly sidesteps the whole demonitized for being advertiser unfriendly issue, because the only people paying for various content are people who want to watch and support such content.

Alternate take: video creators can already use Patreon; Google adding an equivalent feature doesn't help them. It would actually be harmful if Google decides to pressure creators to move off Patreon onto their own system, since the creators would need to rebuild their paying subscriber base from zero. The only party that would benefit from Google adding that feature would be Google.

> They could set something up so creators could mark videos as premium, and then people have to pay a certain amount to watch.

Isn't that basically YouTube Red? Which almost no-one pays for...

I thought Google wasn't allowing patreon links anymore?

I am paying for YouTube.

Oh noes, poor YouTube, poor Google. Their prime motive is making money. They are not forced to distribute it all for free. If they didn't, then maybe people would go back to the great days of selfhosting or distributed systems would finally become commonplace. I would prefer that.

> The company also says the reports that inappropriate videos racked up millions of views on YouTube Kids without being vetted are false, because those views came from activity on YouTube proper, which makes clear in its terms of service that it’s aimed at user 13 years and older.

They need to take responsibility for YouTube proper as well, and not hide behind a ToS. Kids is not even available on the Web as far as I can tell.

> that the issue is relatively minor. It says that the fraction of videos on YouTube Kids that were missed by its algorithmic filters and then flagged by users during the last 30 days amounted to just 0.005 percent of videos on the service

Any parent will tell you that you can read your child 199 good stories and 1 bad/scary one, and it's that 1 bad one that gives them recurrent nightmares.

I remember reading and seeing a demonstration of how the youtube recommended videos had significant tendencies to tend toward the worst, were it be fake news, click bait, dumb stuff, mindless conspiracies or else.

IIRC it was linked to the business model of youtube and that it was an effective way to keep the audience captivated longer hence shown more ads.

This is just a bizarre level of incompetence on Alphabet's part. I can understand being an open platform and allowing people to post content without moderation, but don't sell a curated subsection without a human gatekeeper - especially not one geared towards infants.

This could have been an ideal add-on to the YouTube Red brand. I hope instead their reputation takes a hit from this oversight.

For a company that has its roots in search, youtube is soooo easily taken advantage of by keyword stuffing it's incredible. You'd think that'd be the first thing they fixed when they purchased the site.

If they just fixed that a lot of the related video spam would go away. Ideally, related videos should come from the channel you're watching the video from. Really frustrating to be watching one video and find out you're not watching a clone account.

Example, Good account: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7wAJTGl2gc

What shows on related looks like content from the same guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HwGnpaiepCM

I suggest that kids use sites such as Starfall.com. They do not track kids or apply any algos. They simply let kids explore at their own pace.

0-7 years is critical. Most of us were exposed to controlled media. This is not the case anymore.

Some of this imagery and content can have lasting and damaging impact. Parents should absolutely watch this period carefully and either supervise consumption or have controlled environments.

It's depressing that popular sentiment on HN is generally in agreement with "X should be banned in case it corrupts the minds of gullible people". Whether X is fake news, political speech they don't agree with, computer generated animations, advertisements, or whatever.

Why not treat other people with respect and leave them to manage what they do with their own lives themselves instead of trying to force them to do what's best according to an arbitrarily chosen American-left-wing-parent-friendly culture?

Yes, this is children, but parents can manage what media their children consume. Let them make their own choices.

That's a pretty strong up thing to say in light of child abuse grooming videos. Which is why I assume you say it ignorantly since you are nowhere near up to speed.

I happened to watch a couple YouTube Kids videos with my nephew and they were horrifying. Immediately switched over to PBS and let my sister in law know that she should remove YT kids.

The most interesting bit, for me:

>YouTube says it has thousands of people working around the clock in different time zones to review flagged content.

That's a lot of work, I imagine.

I first heard about this over a year ago from the YouTuber Cr1TiKaL. This has been going on for a while now. I'm amazed that YouTube didn't address this sooner.

https://youtu.be/3iq1TK3I2vc (explicit language)

It was kind of disturbing to see my young infant cousin watching stuff like this without his parents noticing how bizarre these videos are. A kid's youtube browsing can start with a normal kid-friendly video, and then end up with this garbage.

Finally! I'm usually against Youtube's heavyhanded censoring, but these videos are sick and disgusting. I'm removing Youtube for my kids until this is satisfactorily fixed.

Finally! My 2 and 3 year old girls stumble on these when watching baby videos.

Is this about that "Spiderman & Elsa have a baby" videos?

Don't these people do any market research? They would do a lot better having Elsa's baby be fathered by Jack Frost, Hiccup, Harry Potter, or Thor.

I base this on the relatively popularity of crossover fan fiction involving Frozen. Frozen/ROTG is about 500 times as common as Frozen/Spiderman, Frozen/HTTYD about 40 times as common, Frozen/HP about 18 times as common, and Frozen/Thor about 12 times as common.

Needed more fupa

I warned a friend about these weird videos maybe 2 months ago, since he has a 2.5yo who watches a lot of YouTube Kids.

This is a speedy response?

the content in question drives a large portion of Youtube's traffic from what I understand. are they sure its a good idea?

honest question: why is it OK if it's adult that's targeted but not OK if it's children? Literally any argument you apply to the latter applies to the former:

1. still developing -> adults technically are, too.

2. more naive -> naivete is a function of life experience. there are plenty of naive adults.


how about we just not advertise, at all. this is virtue signaling at its finest. as long as advertising is targeted, children will be targeted. marketers will just make their efforts more opaque.

Because children are dependent, but an adult, presumably, has the capacity and capabilities to make their own informed and mature decisions. It's often not true, since emotionally and spiritually many adults are still kids, but that's not the point.

What is the point then? Why not just stop targeting people in general?

You sound like a pedophile.

Police your children properly.

Youtube is a place where you can monentize content or you have to censor heavily. Pick one.

Need better categories:

under 5



13 to 18

over 18


It's ok for video games, movies, TV but YouTube kids shouldn't categorize better?

give authors a chance to categorize their own content.

That doesn't remotely address the problem we're talking about, which is videos that are wildly inappropriate for the age groups they target.

I find most tv shows targetted at children to be weird and bad for children, they show adults behaving in an infantized way. This subliminally teaches children that this kind of childish behavior is appropiate even as an adult. It shows that caring about whatever papa baba bear on his little adventure circus is still something you could concievably care about as an adult. You may think children dont make that connection but brains are specifically wired to understand what is and isnt okay to do and to mimick adults.

By that logic, kids have been taught that adults are out to kidnap, kill, and otherwise cause mayhem and the only way to stop them is fearless children, preferably one that talks to animals.

If you think this is an issue you are a bad parent. Or a bad parent in the making.

I guess since most people don't get training in parenting it make sense most people are bad. Shrug.

Try to articulate in you mind why this is bad (looking at evedence). I think you'll find it hard.

Hacker News is not a battleground for tediously dumb ideological skirmishes, so please stop commenting as though it is or we'll ban the account.


We can do without homophobia, thanks.

Once again us crazy conspiracy theorists aren't so crazy.

I'm sure this will be done with the sensitivity, professionalism, and human touch which has characterized all of Google's attempts to filter content, and in the end be met with nothing, but success.


So, when tech giants fire employees en masse and talk about Basic Income as the answer because they don't want to be held responsible, you get people churning out this kind of shit to make a few bucks because you can no longer get an honest wage for honest work.


A business owner who supports a basic income is also implicitly supporting the greater taxes that would need to be levied on them to pay for that basic income. I'd call that being responsible, in the general sense.

They also implicitly support their "right" to fire people at will and say "not my problem because you have your UBI" even though the proposed amounts for it are far below wages of jobs that are being eliminated.

It is a known fact that countries with insufficient opportunities to sell legitimate exports are the highest exporters of illicit items. When people are desperate for money and lack respectable opportunities, they lower their standards or they starve.

Edit: In response to your added sentence, so many rich people do all they can to find tax loopholes, I am not convinced that your assertion holds any water at all.

They already have the right to fire people at will, and it already isn't their problem. Now those people have some income instead of none.

Currently, UBI does not exist. So, no, they do not "now" have some income.

Additionally, I am aware they can fire people at will. But how laws and social contracts get interpreted changes when policies change. Welfare made it vastly more acceptable for women to have babies out of wedlock. It was intended for "the deserving poor" and designed to help poor single mothers at a time when most single moms were widows. The language did not specify widows. It changed the de facto social contract and altered social behavior.

The net result was an increase in poor single moms and an increase in the number of American children growing up in poverty.

Most pro UBI articles are pretty disingenuous. They say up front that UBI is intended to compensate for a permanent lack of jobs. Then they tell glowing tales of how wonderful it will be to have UBI to supplement your underpaid job. They don't actually explore the horror of living in a world with little to no hope of getting a job while inflation erodes the value of UBI.

I don't get it, honestly. The casually dismissive rebuttals here seem to be blithely oblivious to the dynamics I am commenting on and not genuinely engaging those things.

> They don't actually explore the horror of living in a world with little to no hope of getting a job while inflation erodes the value of UBI.

Better than the horror of living in a world with little to no hope of getting a job while also having no income at all.

What I am suggesting is that we could focus on redistributing work. It isn't inevitable that jobs should simply go away.

But I think I am going to throw in the towel on this discussion. It seems pointless. Folks are pro UBI, and let's not let any facts get in the way.

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