YouTube Kids rolls out new parental control features

YouTube Kids rolls out new parental control features

Content for YouTube Kids is pulled from the main YouTube platform using machine learning and algorithms. Parents have the ability to monitor what their children are watching, to set timers, to block certain channels and to report videos they see that are inappropriate. Most adult content on YouTube is already flagged as restricted, requiring users to sign in and confirm that they want to view the videos. They appear to be targeted at kids who search for basic popular keywords (such as "Elsa") and then mindlessly watch the videos, letting them autoplay into other similar videos. It's in the process of training its team of moderators, which review videos on its site, to recognize and flag such videos.

YouTube said it has been aware of issues for the past year, and has "thousands" of staff working around the clock to eliminate unsuitable content from YouTube Kids.

YouTube has announced a clampdown on disturbing and inappropriate children's videos, following accusations that the site enabled "infrastructural violence" through the long-run effects of its content recommendation system. There is a place, the company is arguing, for satire about Peppa Pig drinking bleach, however distasteful you might find it.

YouTube also made sure to clarify that the number of inappropriate videos within the YouTube Kids app is very small, with most of those videos claiming the majority of their viewership on the all-ages version of YouTube. YouTube Kids, Google's standalone video platform for children, has additional protections that are supposed to filter out all restricted content. Google even added more protection features to the platform last week, but it appears that some inappropriate videos are still slipping through.

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Along with filtering content out of the Kids app, the new policy will also tweak who can see these videos on YouTube's main service.

The policy announcement comes after a New York Times article earlier this month highlighting how violent and lewd videos had managed to fool the YouTube Kids automated censors.

A Medium post made rounds this week from writer James Bridle, who detailed the content he's noticed on YouTube Kids for "some time". "If you find a video that you think should not be in the app, you can block it and flag it for review".

The move to restrict access to the flagged videos was not a direct response to the recent press reports but has been in the works for some time, YouTube told The Verge. In August, the company updated its advertising policy to bar such videos from including ads.

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