YouTube will now take stronger action to prevent predatory comments posted on children's videos. According to a blog post, YouTube will suspend comments on videos featuring minors who "might be at risk of attracting predatory behavior." This measure is designed to prevent predatory commentators from meeting in the comments section of such videos.
Although the word "everyone" is not used to describe videos that can not be commented on, YouTube explains that only a "small number" of creators can keep comments sections enabled on videos that include children.
"These channels will be required to actively moderate their comments, as well as use our moderation tools and demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior," says the YouTube blog post. "We will work directly with them and our goal is to increase that number over time as our ability to receive violent comments continues to improve."
How did we get here?
YouTube continues to double after last week's controversy over a pedophile wormhole discovered on the platform. A few clicks on video results for search terms like "bikini haul" would produce a recommended section full of suggestive, provocative, and disturbing videos for minors. Many comments left in these videos were correctly cited as predatory and encouraging pedophilia.
Some of these predatory videos had ads on display, and these companies were not happy with YouTube when they discovered this controversy. What followed was ad-pocalypse 3.0 (Maybe 4.0? We lost the account.) Like companies like Nestlé, Disney and Fornite Creator Epic Games has withdrawn its ads from the platform.
In response, YouTube has decided to combat predatory video creators and commentators by temporarily disabling comments from tens of millions of under-age videos and deleting hundreds of channels. However, non-predatory videos have been caught up in the wave, sparking outrage at top creators and vloggers "moms and dads" who mostly post videos including their children. This did not lessen the fears when YouTube limited the ads appearing on some underage videos.
Enter the YouTube blog post today, which was probably written to clarify the company's stance on comments and videos about children and teenagers, as well as instituting new policies. However, it's unclear yet whether the new YouTube policy means that it will automatically disable the comment section on newly uploaded videos with minors or will retroactively disable commenting on existing videos. We assume that YouTube will do both, but we contact the company for clarification. YouTube has also just released a new comment sorter, which will detect and remove even more predatory comments than before.
Why the creators were (and will continue) frustrated
Although the thought of losing advertising dollars has frustrated some content creators, others have been so passionate about keeping sections of their comments alive – and rightly so. Many content creators use the comment sections of their videos to interact with their followers, and for some, comments are the most interactive part of their YouTube channels. Losing this places a great barrier between many creators and their viewers.
But YouTube does not have many other options in this scenario. YouTube and Google generally do not want to be seen promoting pedophilia or perpetuating content that could harm minors, so comprehensive policy was inevitable.
But like most major policy changes on YouTube, small creators will be the ones who will feel the most. This is good in some ways because some YouTube channels are created exclusively to create and share predatory videos. But parents of vlogs for the first time probably will not be able to use the comment section to increase the number of followers.
Notably, there is no word on whether certain creators can request that their comment sections be re-enabled. But YouTube has updated its original statement to make it clear that historically predatory channels will lose comment privileges once and for all.
"Based on our review of historical comments, a small number of channels we identified as having a high level of risk for predatory comments will not be able to re-enable comments, even in moderation," the updated statement says. "The owners of these channels will be notified of these actions."