So YouTube appears to be cracking down pretty heavily on underaged users of their services with a new set of restrictions and policies which take effect immediately. Children will effectively be locked out of streaming on YouTube with this new policy.
The announcement comes just months after multiple controversies involving the potential exploitation of underage users on the video sharing site. The “Adpocalypse” reared it’s ugly head once again a few months back after multiple users keyed into groups of disgusting people leaving explicit comments on videos featuring children. This development led to YouTube using an algorithm to detect videos featuring children, and mass-disabling of comments on these videos.
The fact that Google removed over 800,000 videos during this period alone for the above reasons is reason enough to suspect deeper problems the service hasn’t adequately dealt with. And the fact that many advertisers once again fled the platform was the real incentive that kicked YouTube into gear, we all know they only care about their bottom line after all.
Now, YouTube is applying that same moderation technology in a different manner to it’s livestreaming segment. The livestream segment of YouTube will now automatically detect streamers and judge their ability to stream based on their apparent age. In essence, this means that any users under the age of 13 will be unable to stream.
The company is also terminating any accounts found to be run by children under the age of 13 outright, though many young folks who make YouTube videos likely registered fraudulently as adults in an effort to avoid this. However, there is a legitimate way around this policy. Children who wish to stream must have an adult present and visible on their stream in order for the algorithm to unlock their accounts.
Of course, YouTube and by extension Google could work on actually cleaning up their services and handing out stiff penalties to predators and other toxic actors on their sites, but the ease of flouting such measures would render them largely ineffective. Although it still wouldn’t hurt to ban pedophiles, racists and outright Nazis from the service entirely, even though the company will never do that. The ongoing ignorance of homophobic harassment by pundit Steven Crowder is itself indicative of how Google and the rest of the internet don’t really care about the power of their platforms and the damage they can cause. So yeah, don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting on Google to enforce accountability.
So while the requirement for adult supervision is a step in the right direction to protecting children online, Google and the rest of the social media ecosystem could absolutely do more. And no, personal responsibility on the part of victims is not the only viable solution here, as I can predict someone decrying harsher punishments saying. At some point, the internet has to hold bad influences like bigots and sexual predators responsible for their behavior.