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YouTube Overhauls Children’s App After Complaints About Content

YouTube Overhauls Kids' App

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YouTube
YouTube bans dangerous, harmful pranks. Pixabay

YouTube is overhauling its kid-focused video app to give parents the option of letting humans, not computer algorithms, select what shows their children can watch.

The updates that begin rolling out April 26, 2018, are a response to complaints that the YouTube Kids app has repeatedly failed to filter out disturbing content.

Google-owned YouTube launched the toddler-oriented app in 2015. It has described it as a “safer” experience than the regular YouTube video-sharing service for finding “Peppa Pig” episodes or watching user-generated videos of people unboxing toys, teaching guitar lessons or experimenting with science.

Failure of screening system

In order to meet U.S. child privacy rules, Google says it bans kids under 13 from using its core video service. But its official terms of agreement are largely ignored by tens of millions of children and their families who don’t bother downloading the under-13 app.

Also Read: Facebook, YouTube dominate social media use in US

Both the grown-up video service and the YouTube Kids app have been criticized by child advocates for their commercialism and for the failures of a screening system that relies on artificial intelligence. The app is engineered to automatically exclude content that’s not appropriate for kids, and recommend videos based on what children have watched before. That hasn’t always worked to parents’ liking — especially when videos with profanity, violence or sexual themes slip through the filters.

Representational image for YouTube.
Representational image. Pixabay

Updates give parents option

The updates allow parents to switch off the automated system and choose a contained selection of children’s programming such as Sesame Street and PBS Kids. But the automated system remains the default.

“For parents who like the current version of YouTube Kids and want a wider selection of content, it’s still available,” said James Beser, the app’s product director, in a blog post Wednesday. “While no system is perfect, we continue to fine-tune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more-open version of our app.”

Beser also encouraged parents to block videos and flag them for review if they don’t think they should be on the app. But the practice of addressing problem videos after children have already been exposed to them has bothered child advocates who want the more controlled option to be the default.

Also Read: YouTube videos may not help toddlers learn new things

Cleaner, safer kids’ app

“Anything that gives parents the ability to select programming that has been vetted in some fashion by people is an improvement, but I also think not every parent is going to do this,” said Josh Golin, director of the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “Giving parents more control doesn’t absolve YouTube of the responsibility of keeping the bad content out of YouTube Kids.”

He said Google should aim to build an even cleaner and safer kids’ app, then pull all the kid-oriented content off the regular YouTube — where most kids are going — and onto that app.

Golin’s group recently asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether YouTube’s data collection and advertising practices violate federal child privacy rules. He said advocates plan to meet with FTC officials next week.  VOA

Next Story

YouTube Bans Dangerous, Harmful Pranks From its Platform

Recently, a challenge inspired by a scene in Netflix show Birdbox involved carrying out activities - such as driving - while blindfolded. At least one person is known to have crashed as a result

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YouTube
YouTube bans dangerous, harmful pranks. Pixabay

YouTube videos that depict dangerous or emotionally distressing “pranks” have been banned from the platform.

The move comes in response to the so-called “challenges” that have sometimes resulted in death or injury, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

The Google-owned video sharing site said such material had “no place on YouTube”.

But enforcing its new rules on pranks may prove to be difficult, given ambiguity over what may or may not be considered harmful.

“YouTube is home to many beloved viral challenges and pranks,” a message added to the site’s FAQ section read.

“That said, we’ve always had policies to make sure what’s funny doesn’t cross the line into also being harmful or dangerous.

YouTube
YouTube. Pixabay

“Our Community Guidelines prohibit content that encourages dangerous activities that are likely to result in serious harm.”

From now on, the site said it would not allow videos that featured “pranks with a perceived danger of serious physical injury”.

This includes pranks where someone is tricked into thinking they are in severe danger, even if no real threat existed.

Also Read- Now Comes an Assistive Robot To Help Elderly Live Independently

The site added: “We also don’t allow pranks that cause children to experience severe emotional distress, meaning something so bad that it could leave the child traumatized for life.”

Recently, a challenge inspired by a scene in Netflix show Birdbox involved carrying out activities – such as driving – while blindfolded. At least one person is known to have crashed as a result. (IANS)