Feb 28, 2019

YouTube disables comments on videos of children to root out pedophilia

Photo: Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

YouTube announced Thursday it is disabling all comments on videos of young children to deter a pattern of behavior by pedophiles originally reported on by WIRED.

Between the lines: Google-owned YouTube can't rely on simply rooting out “bad” content, since many of the videos pedophiles are exploiting can seem innocuous to human ratings teams, per WIRED. For example, many of the offending comments sections are on videos of children doing gymnastics or dancing. Some of the comments are seemingly innocent as well — such as “swimsuit” or “nice” — and may not get flagged as inappropriate.

  • Context: The announcement comes after advertisers, including AT&T, Disney, and Nestle, started pulling their ads from YouTube to boycott having their ads placed next to harmful content.

What’s next: YouTube said it will be launching a comment classifier that will identify and remove comments of a predatory nature at twice the current rate. YouTube also said it will soon be disabling comments on videos of older minors that may be at risk of attracting predatory behavior.

The bottom line: YouTube drives recommendations based on watch time. But as watch times on these videos of young girls stack up, sometimes totaling of hundreds of thousands of views, the platform's algorithm will need tweaking in order to protect children online.

Go deeper: The internet reckons with kids

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Pelosi: "As the president fiddles, people are dying"

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ramped up her criticism of President Trump's coronavirus response on CNN"s "State of the Union" Sunday, claiming that his downplaying of the crisis has cost American lives.

The big picture: The U.S. is now reporting the most positive coronavirus cases in the world, with 124,686 confirmed as of Sunday morning. Pelosi argued on CNN that Trump's initial denial and subsequent delay in getting life-saving equipment to state governments has been "deadly."

Trump pulls tighter with Biden in nationwide polling

Photos: (L) Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images; Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump gained ground on Joe Biden in the WashPost/ABC News poll this month, going from 7 points down in February to a statistical tie — Biden 49% to Trump 47% among registered voters.

Why it matters: Preferences among all adults has Biden standing at 50% and Trump at 44%, though the poll also tests national sentiment and not state-by-state competitions for an Electoral College majority.

Podcast downloads drop during coronavirus outbreak

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans have been listening to fewer podcasts since the coronavirus pandemic started to worsen in the United States, fashion trade publication Women's Wear Daily reports.

Why it matters: Podcast downloads have dropped about 10%, and the number of total unique listeners also dropped around 20% since the start of the month, according to data from Podtrac.