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

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 1,363,365— Total deaths: 76,420 — Total recoveries: 292,425Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10:30 a.m. ET: 368,533 — Total deaths: 11,008 — Total recoveries: 19,972Map.
  3. Trump administration latest: Peter Navarro warned White House colleagues in late January about the massive potential risks from the coronavirus.
  4. Public health update: Funeral homes are struggling to handle the pandemic.
  5. 2020 update: Wisconsin Supreme Court blocks the governor's attempt to delay in-person primary voting until June.
  6. Tech update: YouTube has removed thousands of COVID-19 videos for violating policies related to spreading medical misinformation.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Stephanie Grisham out as White House press secretary

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham is departing her post to return to the East Wing as First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff, the White House announced Tuesday. The news was first reported by CNN.

Why it matters: Grisham will leave after nine months without ever having held a formal press briefing. Her departure follows the arrival of new White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who has a chance to overhaul a communications shop that's kept a low profile since President Trump ended the tradition of daily press secretary briefings.

WeWork board sues SoftBank

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

SoftBank was sued Tuesday morning by a special committee of WeWork's board of directors for alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duty related to SoftBank's decision to cancel a $3 billion tender offer for WeWork shares.

Why it matters: SoftBank is viewed by many in the private markets as an unfaithful partner. If this reaches trial, that reputation could either become widely cemented or reversed.