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YouTube making changes to help protect children online

26 April 2018, 12:40 | Hattie Nash

Facebook has beefed up its counterterrorism team | Lionel Bonaventure AFP via Getty Images

Facebook has beefed up its counterterrorism team | Lionel Bonaventure  AFP via Getty Images

After getting bombarded with criticisms over videos that showcase inappropriate content for children on the streaming service's Kids platform, as well as other objectionable clips, YouTube decided that it was finally going to take action.

How it works is that YouTube makes use of machine learning to flag and remove videos. In addition to the comments, some YouTubers were posting disturbing and sometimes violent videos with keywords targeting kids.

This means any video uploaded to YouTube can also appear on YouTube Kids if the company's algorithms decide it is suitable.

YouTube is under huge pressure to stay on top of inappropriate content, with the company being criticised for carrying videos promoting terrorism and child abuse. As the biggest video source on the Internet, YouTube creates a dedicated YouTube Kids app to become a safe haven for children, basically anyone under 13 years old, to enjoy the treasury of the service's content. "When we launched the YouTube Kids app three years ago, our goal was to give kids around the world a place to access videos that were enriching, engaging and allowed them to explore their endless interests". YouTube had been able to remove about 76 per cent of the flagged videos (automated process) before it had any views.

YouTube Kids now offers a set of trusted channels that have been chosen by the YouTube Kids team and delivered by partners such as Sesame Workshop and PBS KIDS.

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YouTube Kids still has its main library available by default for now, and the company says it is working on more controls for parents. It may be labourious, but with this new feature you'll be able to lock down what the kids are watching to only what you have pre-approved.

"For parents who like the current version of YouTube Kids and want a wider selection of content, it's still available". Beser went on to add, "While no system is ideal, we continue to fine-tune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more open version of our app".

These channels are verified by the YouTube Kids team and there will be no recommendations shown which point to content outside verified channels.

It's the kind of control parents have been asking for from the popular app, but it also puts the onus on them to filter content.



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