WARNING: This post describes videos that appear to show children distressed or being abused. However, it does not contain disturbing images.
YouTube is the home of cat videos, beauty reviews and goats bleating Taylor Swift songs – all the good things in life. But recently the video sharing platform has been the subject of reports about disturbing videos that could be described as depicting child abuse.
So what’s going on and what is YouTube doing to stop it?
Listen: People are creating fake Peppa Pig videos and your child could be seeing them.
Children in exploitative positions.
News sites Buzzfeed and New York Times were the first to lift the lid on this seedy side of YouTube this month, with Buzzfeed providing the site itself with channels and videos they found questionable, which the site has since removed.
Buzzfeed describes the videos it saw, many of which came from eastern Europe, as featuring “young children, often in revealing clothing, placed in vulnerable scenarios”.
Many videos showed children restrained with ropes or tape – sometimes crying or visibly distressed. Other times they were “kidnapped” or made to “play doctor” with an adult, or simulated receiving an injection, eating feces or peeing on others. It’s terrifying to note that many of these videos came from YouTube ‘verified’ channels and had tens of millions of views, according to Buzzfeed.
Popular channel Toy Freaks, which featured a single dad and his two daughters, was one of the channels deleted last week.
"We’ve terminated the Toy Freaks channel for violation of our policies,” a YouTube spokesperson told Variety in a statement. Owner Greg Chism told the publication YouTube had informed him it had concerns his videos "were attracting audience members who do not have childrens' best interests in their hearts".
Reading between the lines here, we can only assume that the videos, which showed the girls acting as "bad babies" with dummies in their mouths, and throwing food or pretending to vomit - were being viewed by some with the same lens as that of image-based child abuse material.