YouTube is to switch off comments on all videos featuring children and under-18s in a move designed to “better protect children and families” on the platform.
It comes after advertisers pulled out of the platform due to pedophilic behavior in the comments sections.
Several major brands, including AT&T, Nestle, and Hasbro, said that they would no longer advertise on the platform after they discovered pedophiles were leaving comments on videos of children, meaning both YouTube and its content creators would be penalized.
YouTube was quick to respond, and disabled comments on videos that included predatory and obscene comments and messages, but has since disabled comments on virtually all videos that include minors.
The company said it would take several months for all comments to be removed, and that it would be working with content creators to find a way forward.
Speaking in a blog post, YouTube said: “We recognize that comments are a core part of the YouTube experience and how you connect with and grow your audience.
“At the same time, the important steps we’re sharing today are critical for keeping young people safe. Thank you for your understanding and feedback as we continue our work to protect the YouTube community.”
The company added that a “small number of creators will be able to keep comments enabled on these types of videos” but that those creators would be responsible for moderating their comments, and “demonstrate a low risk of predatory behavior,” taking the liability and blame away from YouTube.
In other YouTube news, the company has said that “no form of content that endangers minors is acceptable on YouTube, which is why we have terminated certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way,” and added that they were taking “action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and community”.
Since YouTube’s announcement, many creators have hit back in anger and disappointment, telling fans and followers that they’re being punished as a result of predatory comments that were outside of their control.
In the YouTube world, comments are a primary metric used for measuring engagement, with YouTubers regularly asking users to leave answers to questions in the comments section to encourage debate and encourage further engagement outside of the video.
It’s unknown whether videos will comments disabled will see lower placements and feature less in ‘Recommended for You’ as a result, which could have a negative impact on their channels’ monetization and push them off of the platform.
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