SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – YouTube says Thursday it will turn off comments on almost all videos of children – potentially affected millions of posts on the site – after reports last week that pedophiles left inappropriate comments on innocent videos of children. 19659002] The change comes as YouTube grapples with moderating content across the platform in terms of hate, violence and conspiracy theories continue to plague it.
It will take YouTube several months to disable comments on all videos with minors, the company said. It already started the process last week when it turned off comments from tens of millions of videos.
Advertisers, including Nestle, AT & T and Fortnite maker Epic Games, drew YouTube ads last week after the inappropriate comments about kids being discovered by a popular YouTuber and media reports. At least one company, Nestle, was happy with YouTube's responses and restored ads last week.
A small number of channels that have videos with children are allowed to keep comments turned on. But they must be familiar with YouTube and must actively monitor the comments beyond the standard YouTube tools provided.
Turn off comments on such a large number of videos seems like an "extreme reaction," said eMarketer analyst Paul Verna. But the question involves child safety, so it makes sense that YouTube would like to act quickly, he said.
Comments are not the main focus of the video publishing site, but turning them off will probably reduce the experience for many users and video players, he said.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recognized the concerns Thursday, tweeting: "Nothing is more important to us than to ensure the safety of young people on the platform."
The company said it has also released an updated version of its automated moderation system that it expects to identify and delete twice as many inappropriate comments.
YouTube, like Facebook, Twitter and other sites that allow user publishing, has faced increasing calls to monitor what's on their sites and get rid of inappropriate content. The companies all say that they have taken measures to protect users. But problems continue to emerge.
Concerns about YouTube comments were not even a top priority for advertisers and viewers a few weeks ago, Verna says.
"It just makes you wonder what is next that will happen?"