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Child Exploitation on YouTube

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Two terrorized children in a viral video

Two terrorized children in a viral video

Two terrorized children in a viral video

Trenton Kozel, Reporter

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YouTube is making another appearance in the news regarding its handling of inappropriate content involving children. Earlier this year the platform made headlines for explicit content on YouTube Kids. Now, YouTube is under fire once again for a new wave of videos exploiting children in violent and sexual ways.

YouTube quickly responded to the accusations by shutting down videos and channels showing children being exploited and abused. Some videos showed children tied up by their parents, in revealing clothing, or even being hit or pushed. Throughout these videos, themes of sexualizing and terrorizing children arise. Hate for these videos is not a partisan issue, and YouTube received cries from almost all of its users to deal with these videos. They even went as far as to remove comments from some 650,000 videos in hopes of preventing them from being havens of pedophilia.

 

Earlier in the year, viewers were horrified by thousands of inappropriate videos targeted at children on the YouTube Kids platform. The videos usually starred popular cartoon characters, such as Elsa from Frozen and Spiderman, but in this case they were engaged in sexual and violent activities. The videos’ titles were a “word soup” of highly-searched words which took advantage of YouTube’s algorithm. This called for a massive overhaul YouTube’s system and raised questions about the company’s role in monitoring content.

These questions primarily revolved around what extent YouTube or the government should be involved in this platform, which relies on the free speech of its creators. The fact is, the world has never seen something quite like YouTube. Never have we seen a private company have such an important role in worldwide public discourse. This is truly the “public square” of our generation, and needs strict regulation to inspire positive content. There needs to be a system in place which weeds out content that ruins this platform, yet also rewards content and creators that do not. What YouTube does in the coming months will be crucial in determining exactly what this means for them, and hopefully they use their unique position of power for good, not evil.

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