YouTube has allegedly been facilitating child exploitation through a wormhole in its censorship algorithm. YouTuber MattsWhatItIs uploaded a video titled “Youtube is Facilitating the Sexual Exploitation of Children, and it's Being Monetized,” noting that once one of these videos depicting children in compromising positions is accessed, several others are then recommended through the suggested section. Many of these videos simply depict young girls and boys doing gymnastics or stretching, but at times they show sexually suggestive content that users time-stamp in the comments section. Many of these videos have millions of views and are being monetized through advertisements.
Several advertisers, including Nestlé, Epic Games, and AT&T, pulled their advertisements from YouTube following reports that they were being promoted alongside these objectifying videos. Some of the companies have stated that until Google, YouTube’s owner, can fully ensure that their advertisements are not being promoted alongside offensive content, they are pulling them all out indefinitely. In 2017, hundreds of companies pulled money from YouTube after concerns about ads placed alongside troubling content, such as videos made by hate groups. But they returned to the site last year after YouTube confirmed that measures were being taken to flag and ban this type of content through a more efficient system.
According to Wired magazine, YouTube claims their algorithm is 99 percent effective in ensuring that advertisements appear only with appropriate content, yet this does not seem to be the case with many of these exploitative videos. The issue has raised concern before and has left many wondering why this “wormhole” hasn’t been properly resolved. The comments left on these videos are also serving as a platform on which pedophiles engage with each other, listing Whatsapp numbers and links to child pornography and promising to deliver more illegal content. Even more troubling, some of the children who upload the videos respond to comments from users which ask intimate, highly suggestive questions, including where they live. The majority of the comments are posted in foreign languages, including Spanish, Russian, and Portuguese, which indicates that YouTube’s flagging system may not work as efficiently with non-English languages.
Despite the allegations and the recent withdrawals by advertisers, YouTube maintains that the company “aggressively” ensures its policies are followed and reports any content endangering minors to authorities. Taking into account the thousands of videos along with comments that are threatening children’s safety, the question about whether YouTube is fully addressing this pedophile problem raises several red flags.
Given the website’s accessibility, parents are often unaware that their children are posting videos to YouTube and are therefore oblivious to the dangers they face. With many of these videos, comments are not disabled, and advertisements lure what should be considered illegal money into a system that is profiting from the exploitation of minors. While these recent allegations have been circulating for about a month now, this is not the first time YouTube has come under fire for enabling access to sexually explicit and unethical content. These issues have yet to be addressed fully in the public light, and YouTube should definitely enforce a stricter system in order to fully erase these videos and terminate the pedophilic activity on the platform.