The YouTube app and its Kids variant have long had an issue with numerous strange and outright inappropriate videos popping up with keywords that target kids and use family-friendly characters, but YouTube is reportedly planning to start filtering those videos out of the YouTube Kids app by age-restricting them when they’re found. These videos typically feature absurd scenarios and content that may mesmerize kids, but may also be wildly inappropriate, such as beloved characters wielding firearms, singing strangely out of place nursery rhymes, or having bizarre experiences stemming from eating something. The new rule covers any inappropriate usage of family-friendly characters, meaning that bizarre videos meant to reel in kids on the brand power of well-known characters can be excluded from the app even if they don’t have any content that would otherwise be considered inappropriate. A YouTube representative clarified that this change has been in the works for a while, and is not a response to recent media coverage of the strange genre of videos.
The types of videos being targeted are extremely specific. They normally use a long string of keywords as a name, meant to attract young searchers or parents looking for a quick fix to occupy their children. Terms like nursery rhyme, children, and the names of popular characters are often used back to back to cast the widest possible net. Fishing for hits by using keywords is not in and of itself against the rules, so long as those keywords are somehow relevant to the video, but the videos in question cross the line by virtue of their extremely bizarre content, which often takes advantage of common tropes in pediatric psychology to get and keep kids hooked.
YouTube had previously put a policy in place that saw videos such as these largely demonetized, but they could still be found in the YouTube Kids app, making them too easy for children to stumble upon. Even with those videos demonetized, makers could still profit from more subscriptions and higher view count by putting out other videos that can make money and waiting for fans to stumble upon them. A great many videos of this sort had previously been barred from YouTube Kids simply by way of their inappropriate content, but this expansion of the rules to include any inappropriate usage of family-friendly and iconic characters should help to rein in the trend further.
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