Free Hess thought she had stumbled on another video about gaming.
But imagine her surprise when (spliced between a couple of clips from a very popular Nintendo game) she found someone giving out instructions on how to self-harm — to the extent that it results in suicide.
“Remember kids, sideways for attention, longways for results,” the man says, miming cutting motions on his forearm. “End it.”
CBS News identified the man in the video as Filthy Frank, a popular YouTuber who calls himself “the embodiment of everything a person should not be.” His real name is George Miller, and there is no evidence that the video Free Hess watched was created by him. But when CBS tried to get in touch with him about who might have doctored the video, they didn’t receive a response.
But for Free Hess, the buck had to stop somewhere. So she decided to document her findings on her blog, where she warned other parents to monitor what their kids were watching on YouTube Kids. Apparently, the video had been found about eight months prior by a number of parents, who had even reported the video.
“Looking at the comments, it had been up for a while, and people had even reported it eight months prior,” Hess said.
Shortly after the blog post was published, YouTube took down the video citing the violation of community guidelines. But Hess and other parents had spotted a similarly disturbing video last year as well, which was also taken down by YouTube after it being reported.
Hess and other parents remain concerned about YouTube’s inability to censor the content as soon as it is uploaded. While she does understand that sorting out so many videos is a Herculean task, the platform has a lot of responsibility when it comes to content that kids can access.
“I had to stop, but I could have kept going,” Hess said.
“Once you start looking into it, things get darker and weirder. I don’t understand how it’s not getting caught.”
Warning: This article features disturbing content and mentions of suicide. https://t.co/SVSr01o3Cs
— 10 daily (@10Daily) February 24, 2019
Recently, YouTube has been the target of a lot of anger from parents who have found disturbing content on the platform. Several users have complained about the growing pedophilic content on YouTube — with users who report them being blocked on some occasions — while parents are regularly finding videos which mention or contain visuals of self-harm, suicide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and gun violence, including a simulated school shooting.