YouTube to ban ‘harmful or dangerous’ content like the 'Bird Box' challenge or drive-by shooting prank videos

Associated Press

The policy update comes after popular videos spurred copycats in which people were injured.

Associated Press |

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The video-sharing network owned by Google is cracking down on harmful or dangerous pranks.
YouTube is bringing down the hammer on “harmful or dangerous content” in the wake of viral challenges that place content creators in potentially serious danger.



The company recently announced the content crack-down, and singled out videos that present an apparent risk of death, videos that cause children to experience emotional distress and videos that make “prank” victims believe they’re in real danger, like a home invasion or drive-by shooting prank, as those that would be getting the boot.
 
YouTube said that users will have a two month grace period to review their videos and remove anything that violates the new policy. After that, videos deemed dangerous will receive a strike, and three strikes will lead to the removal of a channel.
A spokesperson told NBC News that it was not one specific viral trend that led to the implementation of the new policy, but that it’s been in development for several months.



Still, it comes at the same time as the “Bird Box” challenge, which has been criticised for its stupidity: users are encouraged to complete tasks while blindfolded, as inspired by the Netflix film of the same name. Users have done things like climb down stairs, apply makeup, and in some cases, like a 17-year-old girl in Utah, drive a car. The teen crashed her car while attempting the challenge, though no one was injured.
A Bird Box challenge, inspired by the Netflix film saw YouTubers imitating scenes in which characters must perform tasks while blindfolded.

It’s not the first dangerous challenge to take off. Over the years, people have filmed themselves doing all sorts of ridiculous stunts, like the Fire Challenge, which saw people pour flammable liquids onto their bodies and light themselves aflame, the Tide Pod challenge, which involved eating detergent, and the salt and ice challenge, which asked people to pour salt on their bodies and quickly cover it with ice, causing a burning sensation akin to frost bite.

The policy regarding children also comes after alarming videos that made national headlines. Maryland couple Michael and Heather Martin were convicted of child neglect and lost custody of two of their children after they filmed themselves screaming at their children until the kids broke down in tears in sick YouTube “pranks.”


YouTube made it clear, however, that safe pranks, like the water bottle flip challenge, still have a place on the popular platform.