YouTube has announced a clampdown on disturbing and inappropriate children’s videos, following accusations that the site enabled “infrastructural violence” through the long-run effects of its content recommendation system.
The new policy, announced on Thursday evening, will see age restrictions apply on content featuring “inappropriate use of family entertainment characters” like unofficial videos depicting Peppa Pig “basically tortured” at the dentist. The company already had a policy that rendered such videos ineligible for advertising revenue, in the hope that doing would reduce the motivation to create them in the first place.
How Peppa Pig knock-offs bring home the bacon for Google
The motto “don’t be evil” has always seemed to me to be a daft mantra for a public company, but for years that was the flag under which Google sailed. It was a heading in the letter that the two founders wrote to the US Securities and Exchange Commission prior to the company’s flotation on the Nasdaq stock market in 2004. “We believe strongly,” Sergey Brin and Larry Page declared, “that in the long term, we will be better served – as shareholders and in all other ways – by a company that does good things for the world even if we forgo some short-term gains. This is an important aspect of our culture and is broadly shared within the company.” Two years ago, when Google morphed into Alphabet – its new parent company – the motto changed. Instead of “don’t be evil” it became “do the right thing”.
Heartwarming, eh? But still a strange motto for a public corporation. I mean to say, what’s “right” in this context? And who decides? Since Google/Alphabet does not get into specifics, let me help them out. The “right thing” is “whatever maximises shareholder value”, because in our crazy neoliberal world that’s what public corporations do. In fact, I suspect that if Google decided that doing the right thing might have an adverse impact on the aforementioned value, then its directors would be sued by activist shareholders for dereliction of their fiduciary duty.
YouTube to restrict 'disturbing' children's videos, if flagged
YouTube is to restrict the availability of videos showing children's characters in violent or sexual scenes if they are reported by viewers.
Last week, a blog post by writer James Bridle highlighted how YouTube was still being swamped by bizarre and indecent videos aimed at children.