YouTube users who watched erotic videos on the platform found videos of underage girls in their recommended videos, CNBC News reports.
The streaming platform does offer plenty of adult content, content which is only accessible to users who have verified their ages. However, according to a recently-published report from The New York Times, the platform’s algorithms — which look at keywords and other factors related to videos its users watch — have resulted in recommendations that not all adult audiences necessarily want to see.
Some YouTube users call the practice “going down the rabbit hole,” a scenario in which one watches a video, then watches a recommended video based on the first clip, then watches another recommended video based on the second bit of footage — and so on. Many YouTube users might say that, sometimes, said experiences end in strange places. But for some consumers of adult content on YouTube, those recommendations eventually included videos of underage girls — including some as young as 5 or 6 — wearing bathing suits or getting dressed. Other recommendations included videos of adult women dressing up as babies, or as little girls.
The situation appears to have been partially fixed, however. A YouTube spokesperson said that the lines of code which resulted in the sketchy recommendations were “probably a result of routine tweaks to its algorithms, rather than a deliberate policy change.”
One thing YouTube may not be doing, however, is disabling the recommendation of child-centric content altogether. That’s because creators of such content rely on recommendations to get views and subscribers, a process which not only helps those creators, but also YouTube as a whole.
YouTube has been called out by some critics who charge that it has become a gathering point for pedophiles, per The New York Times. Some users are known to use the platform to watch videos of children performing gymnastics or yoga, for example. Other users watch children engaging in such mundane activities as playing at the park, or eating. However, banning such videos may hurt the children who post such videos without any sort of salacious agenda.
In fact, several children are heavily invested in their YouTube content. One popular child YouTube channel, Ryan’s Toy Reviews, can dictate a given toy’s success based on his reviews. Other children post videos simply because they enjoy creating content, sharing their creations with other kids.
To combat the problem of pedophiles lurking about, YouTube has instituted a couple of measures. Weeks ago, the company disabled the comments section of all videos that include children. This step was ostensibly taken in an attempt to prevent pedophiles from making contact with the children in said videos, perhaps attempting to groom them.
Today, as Comic Book reports, the platform has banned “younger minors” from streaming video content — unless accompanied by an adult.