Would you believe YouTube is in trouble again this week and frantically attempting to dig itself out of its mess? Crazy, right? The latest tinderbox issue is that YouTube has — as has been pointed out amid similar scandals over the years — a problem with covert child predation. In a video posted on February 17, onetime YouTuber Matt Watson — who returned to the site just to post this 25-minute video — claims to have “discovered a wormhole into a soft-core pedophilia ring on Youtube.” As Watson explains in the video’s description, “Youtube’s recommended algorithm is facilitating pedophiles’ ability to connect with each-other, trade contact info, and link to actual CP [child porn] in the comments.”
Watson’s video has been viewed nearly 2 million times since he posted it a few days ago, and YouTube is on the defensive. Advertisers, including McDonald’s, Nestlé, and Epic Games (the creators of Fortnite), have begun to put their pre-roll ads – the ads that play before a video — on pause while the situation is investigated further. Others, like Disney, have pulled their advertising money out of YouTube entirely. In the past few days, according to the Verge, YouTube has already deleted some 400 channels in connection with child exploitation. The company has also removed millions of comments. “Any content — including comments — that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube,” a spokesperson said. “There’s more to be done, and we continue to work to improve and catch abuse more quickly.”
Meanwhile, YouTube also said it was going to be making changes to stop recommending “borderline content” that could be harmful to users. (Think videos about 9/11 conspiracy theories or anti-vax schlock.) A recent BuzzFeed investigation found that the company is, well, not doing that. At least not yet.