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Violent knockoff kids cartoons have YouTube strengthening review process

YouTube Kids
dennizn / 123RF
Upcoming policy changes and an expanded review process will help keep YouTube videos mixing popular kids characters with adult content away from young eyes. This week, YouTube shared a new policy that will go live in the next few weeks to keep the unusual segment of videos mixing kids characters with violence and sexual content away from the YouTubes Kids app, as well as inaccessible to users logged into a desktop account not registered to an adult.

While an article by The New York Times pointed out the growing issue earlier this week, YouTube says it was already working on a solution and the update is not a result of the recent news. Once the update launches, videos that are flagged in the YouTube main app will automatically be age-restricted, which prevents the video from appearing inside of the YouTube Kids app.

The changes involve a mix of both computer algorithms and human reviewers. First, the computer system will flag any videos with potentially harmful content. A team of policy reviewers will then review any flagged content. Since flagged videos are automatically removed, those videos won’t appear inside the kids app unless a human reviewer finds the video isn’t in violation, though YouTube’s statement on having thousands of reviewers in different time zones suggests flagged videos won’t remain in this limbo for very long.

The knockoff cartoons won’t be deleted from YouTube, but videos that violate the new policy will be age-restricted. Along with not being part of the YouTube Kids app, age-restricted videos also are not available to users who are logged into an account that lists an age under 18. Along with the mix of algorithms and staff reviews, YouTube says it also has volunteers looking for inappropriate content as well.

Earlier this year, YouTube removed advertising from these types of videos, which means creators no longer have a monetary motive for creating this kind of content. The change was launched along with adding videos designed to stir up hate to the list of content not eligible for revenue.

Last week, YouTube launched a redesign of the Kids app, with individual profiles for each child and a user interface that changes based on the age of the child. The company says that YouTube Kids now has more than 11 million users that are active every week.

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