YouTube’s System for Reporting Sexualized Comments Has Been Broken for More Than a Year

Youtube has a group of “Trusted Flaggers” who are volunteer moderators who help to identify and flag inappropriate content that is against YouTube’s Community Guidelines. The Trusted Flaggers group includes volunteers, some charities and law enforcement agencies. YouTube says, “reports of violations by Trusted Flaggers are accurate more than 90% of the time.” In November of 2017 a group of Trusted Flaggers anonymously contacted BBC Trending to informed them that YouTube has allowed at least 100,000 predatory accounts to leave inappropriate comments on videos with no repercussions as YouTube’s system for reporting sexualized comments left on children’s videos has not been functioning correctly for more than a year.”

Many of the comments left on videos are shocking and often extremely sexually explicit. Other comments will include the phone numbers of adults, or requests for more videos that will fulfill their sexual fetishes. This is the type of content that should be removed immediately from YouTube to protect its users. However, through a BBC Trending Investigation and with the help of Trusted Flaggers they identified 28 comments “directed at children that were clearly against the site’s guidelines.” Over the course of several weeks only 5 of the comments were removed by YouTube. It wasn’t until the remaining 23 comments were reported by BBC Trending did YouTube delete the predatory accounts.

Trusted Flaggers claim that often times the inappropriate content and users who are violating YouTube’s policies that they flag are not facing any consequences. The group of Trusted Flaggers told BBC Trending, “that they felt their efforts in taking down such accounts and comments were not being fully supported by the company…”There are loads of things YouTube could be doing to reduce this sort of activity, fixing the reporting system to start with. But for example, we can’t prevent predators from creating another account and have no indication when they do, so we can take action.””

Not only is YouTube not reviewing flagged material by the Trusted Flaggers but sources also told BBC Trending “that after members of the public submitted information on the form, the associated links might be missing from the report. YouTube employee could see that a particular account had been reported, but had no way of knowing which specific comments were being flagged.”

YouTube relies heavily on users reporting content that goes against the community guidelines, but how are we supposed to trust that inappropriate content is being removed after being flagged if the system isn’t even working properly.

It’s no wonder that YouTube has become an unsafe hotbed of sexually explicit content that exposes kids to inappropriate, and harmful sexually exploitive behavior.

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