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YouTube Cracks Down on Dangerous Challenges and Prank Videos

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YouTube is updating their policies and enforcement process when it comes to dangerous challenges - like the Tide Pod challenge and other pranks.
tide pod challenge

It’s interesting to me how and when people decide to issue a challenge based on something from popular culture. Take the “In My Feelings” challenge, for example. Who decided that it was a good idea? In fact, many law enforcement agencies were warning people that it wasn’t ok and people were getting injured. Watching the blooper reel of those challenges were kind of funny, but at the same time, actual people got hurt. It wasn’t Drake who issued this challenge, so it makes me wonder how and when this got started in the first place. That challenge wasn’t quite as dangerous as others – like the Tide Pod challenge where people were eating laundry detergent. While these are certainly entertaining, they don’t always seem like a good idea.

And YouTube agrees. They made several policy updates this week, including more stringent enforcement of their ban on videos of dangerous challenges and pranks.

“We’ve updated our external guidelines to make it clear that challenges like the Tide Pod challenge or the Fire challenge, that can cause death and/or have caused death in some instances, have no place on YouTube”.

YouTube FAQ

Is YouTube merely protecting people, or taking this too far? I ask this question because there is a fine line between protecting people and censoring what they can do. Now, I’m not supportive of anything that can physically harm someone, but as adults we have to be able to take a certain level of risk for ourselves. And maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps the bigger concern is that these videos aren’t always being produced by adults? In fact, YouTube has said that it already vans videos of pranks that can “cause children to experience severe emotional distress, meaning something so bad that it could leave the child traumatized for life”.

Their policy also extends to pranks “with a perceived danger of serious physical injury”, such as a home invasion or a drive-by shooting prank. What YouTube didn’t mention is the fact that just this week, a teenager crashed their car while driving blindfolded and participating in the Bird Box challenge. Bird Box is a popular Netflix movie, where the premise of the movie is based around an individual being blindfolded. The “challenge” that is coming from that movie is people blindfolding themselves and then attempting different tasks. Netflix has also issued a warning, as they are sure to become liable at some point.

But is YouTube taking this too far? I don’t think they are. In fact, this whole idea of banning certain videos is probably the best way to stop it. If people know that they have a platform to be stupid, then they’re going to take the challenge. For example, the psychological well-being of children gained attention in 2017 when the YouTube channel DaddyOFive was taken down. This channel showed two parents playing abusive pranks on their children. They ended up losing custody of two of their children, which I feel like is in the best interest of the children, but I also think that it could have been prevented. And that’s where YouTube comes in.

While it’s not YouTube’s fault that these people are posting these kinds of videos, it does give them a platform to do it. Just as I said that I think Twitter or Facebook can be a platform for hate speech, I think YouTube does need to monitor who is posting videos and the nature of those videos.

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