A new age-restriction policy should keep these videos away from young viewers.
The reasoning behind this decision has to do with the relationship between the main YouTube app and YouTube Kids (which has its own dedicated app). Before any video appears in the YouTube Kids app, it’s filtered by algorithms that are supposed to identify appropriate children’s content and content that could be inappropriate or in violation of any YouTube policies. YouTube also has a team of human moderators that review any videos flagged in the main YouTube app by volunteer Contributors (users who flag inappropriate content) or by systems that identify recognizable children’s characters in the questionable video.
If the human moderator finds that the video isn’t suitable for the YouTube Kids app, it will be age-restricted in the main YouTube app. No age-restricted content is allowed in the YouTube Kids app at all. As for those using the main YouTube app, age-restricted content cannot be viewed by anyone not logged into a YouTube account, anyone under the age of 18, or anyone with Restricted Mode turned on. According to a report from The Verge, YouTube claims this policy has been in the works for some time now and is not in response to the recent online concern.
Also, all age-restricted content is not eligible for advertising, which will undoubtedly hit the wallets of the creators making these videos. While it’s hard to understand why anyone would make a video about Peppa Pig drinking bleach or a bunch of superheroes and villains participating in a cartoonish yet violent “nursery rhyme,” it’s been a decent way to make money on YouTube. Some of these videos have amassed hundreds of thousands (and sometimes millions) of views, gleaning ad dollars and channel popularity.
The unnerving reality is that it’s possible that many of those views came from YouTube’s “up next” and “recommended” video section that appears while watching any video. YouTube’s algorithms attempt to find videos that you may want to watch based on the video you chose to watch first. If you don’t pick another video to watch after the current video ends, the “up next” video will automatically play. Since some of these inappropriate videos showed up on YouTube Kids (and on the main YouTube app as well), it’s possible that any one of them was an “up next” video that automatically played after hours of kids watching other appropriate yet categorically similar content.
This new age-restriction policy should prevent that from happening by stopping inappropriate content from ever making it to YouTube Kids. It takes a few days for content to transition from the main YouTube app to YouTube Kids, and the company is hoping the work of human moderators, Contributors, and the new policy will prevent any more of this content from getting into its safe place for children.
Even though the new policy is geared toward making YouTube Kids a safer place, it does have implications for audiences of the main YouTube site as well. But these videos aren’t going away, and some would argue that many of them are satires or parodies, both of which are permissible under YouTube guidelines. Families that use the regular YouTube app instead of YouTube Kids will want to check their account restrictions if they don’t want these videos popping up unexpectedly.