YouTube is taking new steps to increase child safety on the video-sharing platform.
The Google-owned firm announced Thursday that it will turn off comments on all videos that feature minors.
The decision comes as YouTube found itself ensnared in a child exploitation controversy, wherein pedophiles were discovered to be leaving predatory comments on videos featuring young minors.
YouTube acknowledged that comments are a ‘core part of the YouTube experience,’ but that disabling them would be ‘critical for keeping young people safe.’
‘Over the past week, we have disabled comments from tens of millions of videos that could be subject to predatory behavior,’ the company said in a blog post.
‘These efforts are focused on videos featuring young minors and we will continue to identify videos at risk over the next few months.
‘…We will be broadening this action to suspend comments on videos featuring young minors and videos featuring older minors that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior,’ the firm continued.
Some channels will still be allowed to have comments enabled on videos featuring minors, but they’ll be ‘required to actively moderate their comments,’ in addition to YouTube’s AI moderators.
It hopes to open up comments on these types of videos for more channels over time.
YouTube is also ramping up its focus on launching more advanced AI moderating technology.
The moderating technology is capable of identifying and removing predatory comments, according to the firm.
YouTube ‘accelerated’ the classifier’s launch and now has a new version in place that is ‘more sweeping in scope.’
It’s also capable of identifying and removing double the amount of comments compared to the previous version.
The firm also addressed issues with users uploading harmful videos catered toward minors.
‘No form of content that endangers minors is acceptable on YouTube, which is why we have terminated certain channels that attempt to endanger children in any way,’ YouTube explained.
‘We will continue to take action when creators violate our policies in ways that blatantly harm the broader user and creator community. Please continue to flag these to us.’
The controversy erupted last week when YouTuber Matt Watson, who posts videos to his channel MattsWhatItIs, claimed to have found a ‘wormhole’ into a ‘soft-core pedophile ring’ on the site.
Pedophiles would comment on the videos with timestamps linking to when children were shown in sexually suggestive positions and would also link to other videos.
In turn, YouTube’s algorithms would recommend videos related to those topics.
Advertisers weren’t happy about the revelation and quickly ended their advertising spending on the site.
Disney, Nestle, AT&T and Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite, all suspended their advertising on YouTube.
It’s also not the first case of YouTube being in hot water over child safety issues.
In 2017, the firm received backlash after it was revealed that creators were publishing videos to YouTube Kids with inappropriate and, at times, disturbing scenes.