According to news reports, YouTube has blocked comments on most videos featuring minors to combat child exploitation, following the unveiling of pedophilia rings on its platform.
“To the cynical eye, it appears that YouTube could be trying to retain the ability to monetize videos of children with hundreds of thousands, and millions, of viewers who are eroticizing them,” said Haley Halverson, Vice President of Advocacy and Outreach at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. “Disabling comments is a significant improvement, but it should only be phase one of YouTube’s clean up plan. Next, they need to make sure that none of these videos of minors being sexualized are being monetized, and that their algorithm triggers a warning to the users’ account when their viewership spikes rapidly to alert them to the dangers of online predators.”
Unfortunately, sexual harassment, pornography, and grooming for sex trafficking and prostitution will remain a problem on YouTube for users of all ages until better algorithms and AI can be used to proactively keep the site safe, instead of YouTube waiting for the problem to get so bad that users or, more often, the media bring it to their attention.
“We hope that YouTube is beginning to realize that making their platform safe needs to be a #1 corporate priority,” Halverson stated.
Haley Halverson previously made the below video on February 22nd, (edited to not endanger children’s identities) displaying proof of pedophilia and online grooming.
The research also found that as of February 22nd, some of these videos were being monetized with ads from O’Reilly Auto Parts, Google CS (a computer science curriculum,) WikiBuy, Promo (a social media video tool,) and even a LinkedIn ad about how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.
Google has been placed on NCOSE’s 2019 Dirty Dozen List which names 12 mainstream facilitators of sexual exploitation.
Google is named to this list due to sexual exploitation on YouTube, including pornography, sexual harassment and grooming, in addition to Google Image and Video search results that display pornographic results for innocent searches like “bondage” or “happy teens,” in addition to problems with Google Chromebooks in schools.